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Botswana - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 20 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 105

Botswana’s government commits more funds for ITCs in 2019 budget

Effective regulatory reform has made Botswana’s telecom market one of the most liberalised in the region. There is a service-neutral licensing regime which considers the increasing convergence of technologies and services. Several operators now compete effectively, particularly in the mobile segment.

Botswana has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa, with growth in the number of subscribers having recovered from the sharp fall seen at the end of 2016. Popular use of multiple SIM cards from different operators has delayed the introduction of mobile number portability, with the telecom regulator not convinced of the facility’s economic benefits. In a bid to generate new revenue streams and secure market share, the three mobile network operators (MNOs) – Mascom Wireless (an affiliate of South Africa’s MTN), Orange Botswana (backed by Orange Group) and BTC – have entered the underdeveloped broadband sector by adopting of 3G, LTE and WiMAX technologies. In the fixed-line broadband market they compete with a large number of ISPs, some of which have rolled out their own wireless access infrastructure.

After a period of stagnation, the number of internet users has risen strongly in recent years, largely the result of lower prices following improvements in international connectivity. Historically, the landlocked country has depended on satellites for its international bandwidth, and on other countries for transit capacity to landing points of international submarine fibre optic cable systems. The landing of additional cables in the region in recent years has improved the competitive situation in this sector, while prices for connectivity have fallen by up to 70%. The stability and cheaper cost of fixed-line broadband services continues to attract subscribers, though mobile internet remains the preferred choice for most, particularly among the large proportion of younger people in the country.

The much-delayed privatisation of BTC has been facilitated by the transfer of network assets and the management of BTC’s involvement in two key submarine cables to the newly created wholesale operator Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet). BTC through this process has been transformed into a retailer of services. An IPO was completed in April 2016. There was considerable interest in the 44% of the company made available, with 5% reserved for employees and 51% being retained by the state. Some 50,000 private investors now have a stake in the operator.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Orange Botswana launches its Digital Schools Project;
  • Regulator ends off-peak mobile wholesale call rates;
  • MTN Group sells its majority stake in Mascom Wireless;
  • Korea Telecom advises BTC on LTE network optimisation;
  • Orange Money initiates cross-border m-payment platform;
  • Kometsi Telecommunications JV aiming to set up as an MVNO;
  • Government commits BWS461.35 million for ICT infrastructure in 2018-19 budget;
  • BTC reports 3% fall in revenue for fiscal 2018;
  • Orange Botswana partners with Barclays Bank to develop m-money service;
  • BoFiNet completes three fibre network expansion links costing BWP200 million;
  • Regulator introduces Unified Licensing Framework;
  • Report update includes telcos' data to Q4 2018, regulator's 2018 annual report and market data to Q2 2018, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC); Mascom Wireless (MTN); Orange Botswana (Vista Cellular); beMobile; Botsnet; MTN Business; InfoBotswana (IBIS); Broadband Botswana Internet (BBI); OPQ Net; Mega Internet; Global Broadband Solution (GBS); Tsagae Communications; Virtual Business Network Services (VBN); Bytes Technology; Fourth Dimension; Hi-Performance Systems; Microteck Enterprises; Tharinet; Netspread; First National Bank.

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