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BTC strategic focus to 2020 espouses technology

The strategic intent pursued by Botswana Telecommunications is to create shareholder value and gain competitive advantage through the delivery of innovative solutions, increasing mobile and broadband market share, and to fix the basics in order to deliver a superior customer experience.

BTC has identified five broad thematic areas central to execute this intent. These key result areas are innovation, customer experience, efficiency, growth and a high-performance culture. BTC growth will be driven by an improved mobile and broadband customer experience, new products, and new market growth both locally and regionally. Innovation is anticipated to develop new products and lines of business that gives the company a competitive advantage, while at the same time BTC seeks to transform itself into a high performing company that is characterised by superior leadership ability and talented people who are results oriented.

The group’s three-year strategic focus to 2020 remains one of growth and transformation, themed around technology, commercial and culture. As for the technological transformation, BTC is transforming and modernising its network at the same time improving the quality of user experience. The company says it continuously invest in its networks in order to give its customers the widest coverage, fastest speeds and the best network quality, while making its services more affordable. Investing in the latest generation network technology allows the company to lower operating costs while improving their capacity to handle increased traffic volumes.

Further, BTC indicated that its approach to the market is segment based, as it wants to engage with customers and gather essential insights to improve its value proposition and provide a seamless customer experience. BTC has developed an integrated commercial strategy with the intent of growing revenue and gaining its market share and it seeks to transform into a high performing company that is characterised by superior leadership ability as well as results oriented people with the requisite skills.

According to BTC Annual report 2019 released this week, the company has identified strategic programmes to anchor the three transformation pillars. Converged billing being the first strategic programme has seen phase 1 of the platform being implemented in March 2018. Mobile prepaid, mobile post-paid and fixed prepaid platforms were migrated. Migration of fixed post-paid customers was implemented in June 2019.

As part of the BTC digitisation program, Data Centre and IT infrastructure Consolidation project was commercially launched in March 2019, and there has since been an increase in uptake of customers hosted in the Data Centre. Investment in the Mobile Broadband network is achieving the desired results of improved quality of customer experience, and BTC has rolled out 281 sites to date. The deployment of MBB has resulted in BTC 4G being the best in the country, both in terms of coverage footprint and download speed.

This has led to an upsurge in mobile data usage and an increase in 4G subscriptions. The quality of voice service on the mobile network has also improved and exceeded set targets with reductions in network congestion rates and drop call rates. In the Fixed Broadband space, BTC says it has deployed and commissioned a total of 81 Fibre to the Cabinet FTTC nodes in Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane and Maun, and has extended Fibre to the Home FTTH in Phakalane Golf Estate and Gaborone North, providing fibre-based connectivity to hundreds of households.

The FTTx service was launched in major centres and customers are now able to experience high-speed internet connectivity. The company further indicated that it upgraded its VSAT system to a state-of-the-art platform which is capable of delivering high speed and affordable internet connectivity up to 50Mbps. As a result, of improved service quality, BTC noted that it has seen an increase in customer retention. VSAT service, the group claims, has seen increased uptake particularly from farming communities, as well as tourism and hospitality facilities countrywide.

The roll-out of the 4G sites, according to the report, enabled BTC to introduce new mobile data products targeted to different segments of the market. ‘’we launched new propositions such as Live Social bundles, revamped turn up bundles and video bundles. For post-paid we were able to offer customers Pro connect bundles which offers them a range of bundles, voice and an option of 4G high-end device’’ reads the report

Moreover, BTC has launched its money financial service called SMEGA. ‘’this allows customers to deposit or withdraw money, pay bills, buy electricity and airtime from their wallet. The service has a bank to wallet feature and a new innovation called Motshelo group as well as bulk payments. We have also introduced mobile app that gives customer’s convenience to access our services through their phones and online application for services’’.  Efforts to improve customer experience for the company are beginning to bear fruit, a s following an introduction of a day service, customer satisfaction index improved from 66% to 68%. The service is aimed at improving customer service turnaround times.

 BTC continued to enhance the ability of the transmission network to support the radio access network by connecting more base radio stations with fibre and high-speed IP microwave transmission, thus improving the quality of service and extending access. This is according to the company’s Annual Report 2019 released this week.

 The continual enhancement of the telecommunications environment is a basis for competitiveness in the sector and is an important element of improving customer experience and ensuring customer satisfaction. As a customer-centric and proactive mobile network operator, BTC says it has implemented an integrated Fault Management and Performance Management Solution as a strategic initiative of the integrated network management platform. This was done to improve the quality of and ensure overall visibility of the network performance. Continual monitoring of these has helped in guiding the installation of additional capacity to where it is most needed, thereby resolving capacity constraints.

BTC network coverage continues to be the widest in the country and covers over 96% of the population. BTC has significantly increased its LTE coverage footprint, covering urban and semi urban locations and village across the country, with over 365 sites commissioned as at end of the year under review. Additional sites will be deployed during the 2019/2020 financial year to address coverage gaps and for densification in the two cities, Gaborone and Francistown. BTC has also improved its fixed broadband services with fibre to the ‘’X’’ deployed in urban areas. The company stressed that it commissioned its VSAT service that uses a High Throughput Satellite delivery high speed broadband connectivity across the country.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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