Information Communication Technology Statistics Brief Q1 2019 indicates that fixed telephone line subscriptions increased marginally by 0.5 percent in Q1 2019 after having registered a total of 143, 481 subscriptions recorded in Q4 2018.
Mobile cellular telephone subscriptions also grew during the quarter, they rose from 3,381 228 subscriptions in Q4 2018 to 5,073 369 subscriptions in Q1 2019, showing an increase of 50%. This Statistics Brief presents a snapshot of Botswana Information and Communications Technology Statistics for quarter one 2019. It contains statistics relating to ICT Infrastructure and services as well as the contribution of Information and Communications Services Sector to the economy. Some of indicators are preliminary estimates and thus subject to revision when data becomes available.
Comparing Q1 2019 to the same quarter in 2018, fixed telephone subscriptions increased by 1% while mobile cellular telephone subscriptions increased by 59.5%. During Q1 2019, pre-paid mobile cellular cell phones subscriptions totalled 4,946 028 as compared to 3,295 636 subscribers in Q4 2018. This was a significant increase of 50.1%. Post-paid mobile cellular telephone subscriptions realized a significant increase as well in Q1 2019. They increased by 48.8 percent after registering 127 341 subscriptions compared to 85 592 recorded in Q4 2018.
Total Internet (mobile internet plus fixed internet), subscriptions increased by 11% in Q1 2019. It increased from 1.8 Million subscriptions registered in Q4 2018 to 1.9 Million in Q1 2019. Looking at the two types of internet individually, mobile internet subscriptions increased by 10.8%, from 1.74 Million subscriptions in Q4 2018, to 1,93 Million in Q1 2019, while fixed internet subscriptions went up by 6.3 percent (from 55,390 subscriptions recorded in Q4 2018 to 58,899 in Q1 2019).
Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, overall internet subscriptions increased by 9% in Q1 2019. Mobile internet and fixed internet increased by 9% and 10% respectively. Furthermore, telephone traffic comprises of domestic calls, international calls and short message service SMS. On-net fixed telephone domestic calls traffic increased in Q1 2019; they increased from 1,630 843 543 calls made in Q4 2018 to 1,630 877 925 calls in Q1 2019, registering a marginal increase of 34,382 calls.
Off net fixed telephone domestic calls traffic went down in Q1 2019 as compared to Q4 2018. They decreased from 1,923 390 968 calls recorded in Q4 2018 to 1,894 426 277 calls in Q1 2019, a decrease of 1.5%. With regard to mobile cellular telephone domestic calls traffic, on-net traffic reduced by 18.1% while off-net traffic increased by 2.2 percent in Q1 2019.
Mobile cellular telephones to fixed telephone traffic increased by 39.3 percent in Q1 2019.09.15 International calls outgoing from fixed telephones decreased by 0.7 percent from 206 052 643 calls made in Q4 2018 to 204 672 812 calls made in Q1 2019. Outgoing international calls from mobile cellular telephones increased in Q1 2019 compared to those made in Q4 2018. On-net short messages services SMS increased in Q1 2019 while off-net ones reduced.
In Q1 2019, the Postal and Communications Services sector contributed P1.2 Million in current prices, which constituted 2.6 percent of total GDP. In real prices, Postal and Communications Services Sector contributed P760 Million to the economy and this stood at 3.1 percent of the total GDP.
Fixed telephone lines refer to a telephone line connecting a customer’s terminal equipment to the public-switched telephone network and which has a dedicated port on a telephone exchange, while a mobile cellular phone refers to a portable telephone subscribing to a public mobile telephones services using cellular technology, which provides access to the telephone network.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”