ICT Africa Headline News

Internet Use on the Rise in Botswana

05 March, 2013
Botswana is one of Africa’s wealthiest nations with a thriving economy mainly based on diamond mining and tourism which recovered quickly from a recession during the global financial crisis (GFC). Regulatory reform has turned the country into one of the most liberalised telecommunications markets in the region, including a service-neutral licensing regime which takes into account the increasing convergence of technologies and services.

Although at well over 100% Botswana has one of the highest mobile market penetration rates in Africa, the average revenue per user is also one of the highest on the continent. In a bid to generate new revenue streams and secure market share, the three mobile operators – Mascom Wireless (an affiliate of South Africa’s MTN), Orange Botswana (backed by France Telecom) and BeMobile (a subsidiary of 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. Here they are competing with a large number of ISPs, some of which have rolled out their own wireless access infrastructure.

After stagnating for three years, the number of internet users has been rising since 2012, as a 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.
The planned privatisation of BTC has been postponed in the wake of the global economic crisis and is now expected to be completed in 2014.

Market highlights:
• One of the highest levels of mobile and fixed-line penetration in Africa;
• Internet use on the rise following improvements in international connectivity;
• First LTE network launched;
• BTC privatisation expected in 2014.

Estimated market penetration rates in Botswana’s telecoms sector – end 2013
Market / Penetration rate
Mobile 184%
Fixed 8.5%
Internet 8.0%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)


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