Botswana - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics

BoFiNet secures control of national and international telecom infrastructure, signs its first network deals with telcos

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Botswana’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • The impact of the global economic crisis;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Internet and broadband development and growth;
  • Mobile data services, including 3G and LTE;
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
  • Average Revenue per User.

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Botswana is one of Africa’s wealthiest nations, with a thriving economy mainly based on diamond mining and tourism. The economy recovered quickly from a brief recession during the global financial crisis (GFC). Regulatory reform has turned the country into one of the most liberalised telecom markets in the region, including a service-neutral licensing regime which takes into account the increasing convergence of technologies and services.

Botswana has one of the highest mobile market penetration rates in Africa, approaching 160%. 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 at present. 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 France Telecom/Orange) and BeMobile (a subsidiary of the fixed-line incumbent BTC) – have entered the underdeveloped broadband sector with different strategies including 3G mobile, LTE, WiMAX, and bundling with fixed-line (ADSL) services. In this 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 2011 and 2012 has improved the competitive situation in this sector, while prices for connectivity have fallen by up to 70%.

The privatisation of BTC, much delayed and expected by the end of 2014, has been facilitated by the transfer of network assets and the management of BTC’s involvement in two key submarine cables to the newly create wholesale operator Botswana Fiber Networks (BoFiNet). BTC has been transformed into a retailer of services.

Market highlights:

  • Botswana enjoys one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa;
  • Internet use is rising following significant improvements in international connectivity;
  • LTE services have been launched by Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana;
  • BoFiNet launches as a wholesale provider of telecom services, signs its first deals with telcos;
  • The number of mobile money users has grown rapidly since the service launch in mid-2011, reaching
  • 283,000 the beginning of 2014.
  • After many delays, the privatisation of BTC is to be finalised in August 2014, with a listing on the
  • Botswana Stock Exchange in the following December.

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Companies covered in this report:

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC); Mascom Wireless (MTN); Orange Botswana (Vista Cellular); BeMobile; Botsnet; MTN Businesss; 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.