BTC’s technology transformation reaches new heights with investment in the telecommunications infrastructure that is unmatched in the market today. By onboarding the new satellite technology, which offers an improved broadband, broadcast and data services, BTC has entrenched its position as the network of the future.
The platform covers hostile remote areas with ease, providing high speed Internet even to the most isolated areas of the country. The launch of the new technology is pivotal in expanding coverage and enhancing the scope of BTC satellite services. It is predominantly used to provide communications in areas where the normal terrestrial communication like radios, fiber and copper cables are not available such as in swamps and national parks.
The platform will enhance superior customer experience offering faster downloads speeds of up to 50 mega bites per second (Mbps) at competitive prices, said BTC Chief Operations Officer (COO), Mr. Aldrin Sivako. Many of the existing BTC‘s VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) customers, he said, have already been migrated to the new service with competitive pricing and innovative packages.
Customers now enjoy high speed broadband services that include integrated data, and video, voice and multimedia applications. Some of the benefits and attributes of the satellite service include reliable communications, with high network uptime exceeding typical terrestrial fibre/cable lines. Mr. Sivako said BTC’s offering to customers provides a wide range of products, which can easily be scaled according to the customer’s requirements with low incremental cost.
The services emanating from the BTC advanced platform can be deployed almost anywhere, making it ideal for business continuity and connectivity in remote, hard to reach locations and temporary sites. “The upgrade of our satellite service using the latest technology will enable us to deliver high speed internet bandwidth to any customer in Botswana covering farms, tourism areas, towns and villages anywhere in the country. The service, allows us to provide fixed and mobile broadband internet services to a wider customer base which previously were beyond reach, ‘’ he said.
Whether it be a mining or engineering company, retail store, hospital, bank, media outlet or any business needing fast, reliable, broadband communications, the Chief Operations Officer, is upbeat that BTC’s VSAT platform is the solution. “Our VSAT service will provide an overlay and blanket broadband coverage over the entire country hence complementing our 4G coverage footprint enabling Batswana and our customers to always live connected. “
It delivers the capacity and frequencies required for a range of advanced broadcast and broadband services including Direct To-Home (DTH) TV, Video Distribution to cable heads-ends and satellite broadband internet. The hi-tech platform will enhance delivery of communication services to diverse industries situated outside cities such as agriculture, tourism and mining amongst others. The Anthony Masunga led Company, is on a huge infrastructure development drive investing millions to enhance its network.
“Our increased appetite for new more efficient technologies, and significant investment in our network blend well with our drive for building a future proof network to improve our customer experience,” said Sivako. The satellite has built-in redundancy that ensures continuous operations in case of failure. The technology offers improved satellite broadband, broadcast and data services to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
It has additional benefits of in-orbit redundancy and back up capabilities, ensuring highest satellite service reliability. BTC launched its first satellite services in 2004 providing coverage over Botswana and surrounding countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and the new investment further entrenches its agility and position as a market leader in communication services.
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”