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The unbanked millions of Pula

  • Mobile money offers mobile operators a big bite
  • Orange tops, beMobile prepares to compete  


As beMobile’s market share continues to grow steadily, the mobile company is also flexing its muscles to compete in other income generating segments like the Mobile money.

A report by Stockbrokers Botswana says Mobile money services show immense potential, with the segment among the prime drivers of financial inclusion as they make financial services accessible to the unbanked market. According to the report, as at March 2015, the sector had 412, 126 active mobile money accounts, generating revenues of BWP 206 million for the year.

With this potential, the report suggests that penetrating the Mobile money is the next big fight among mobile telephony companies. Currently Orange has 65% market share for mobile money services, Mascom 34%, and beMobile 1% market share. But beMobile is splashing over P110 million recently to boost its brand.

Following the listing of the parent company, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), it emerged that losses attributable to BWP522 million impairment charges of Property, Plant and Equipment were a result of technological changes on a global scale. beMobile is said to be pushing its technological acquisitions to up its game.

The Stockbrokers report further says the mobile telephony sector has seen substantial growth of subscriptions, from 823 070 in 2006 to 3 405 887 in 2015, representing a 10 year CAGR of 15.3%. Mascom has the largest share in the mobile telephony sector, with an estimated 55%, followed by Orange with an estimated 28%.

“beMobile, with an estimated 17% market share, has been growing steadily since its launch in April 2008, and had a subscriber base of 507 321 as at January 2016. BTCL expects to spend about BWP110 million developing its beMobile arm during the year. This will be done on the backdrop of 1% Universal Access Service levy on all identified mobile operators to raise funds towards the Universal Access and Service Fund,” reads part of the report.

Much of beMobile’s growth, which has seen it capture a meaningful share of Botswana’s mobile market is attributable to its low tariff rates and wider network coverage of the three service providers.

The market share between prepaid and post-paid telephony subscriptions is 98% and 2% respectively. Although prepaid calls are more expensive than post-paid calls, prepaid is a service of choice as it allows customers control over their spending through pre-payment of small denominations airtime units.

The Stockbrokers report indicates that Mobile penetration, measured by teledensity, was estimated at 168% in March 2014 (March 2014: 158%), higher than the Sub Saharan Africa’s average mobile penetration of 82.1%. It is estimated that the mobile telephony networks cover at least 95% of the population with varying network capabilities of 2.5G, 3G and 4G.

“Mobile broadband technologies such as 3G and 4G are mostly available in urban areas while in rural areas subscribers access the internet through other technologies such as 2G and Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) that are widely deployed throughout the country. Currently, 3G as a percentage of mobile market is estimated at 12.5%; while the newer technology, 4G, or LTE, has already been rolled out by Mascom and Orange. The 4G technology requires 4G ready handsets, which are quite costly, BTCL rolled out the 4G to its customer base in September 2015.”

However the stockbrokers report shares that the slowing annual growth rates of mobile subscriptions suggest increasing saturation in Botswana’s mobile market, while the relatively high penetration rates are likely to be driven by unique form of competition where consumers possess multiple Sim cards belonging to different service providers.

“The multiple SIM cards phenomenon allows subscribers to take advantage of product and price offerings across networks. This practice also ensures that consumers have access to other networks in areas of the country where some networks are not available.”
Internet services

There is no doubt that the use of mobile technology has surpassed fixed technology due to its convenience, with mobile internet penetration at 59% and fixed internet penetration at 5%. It is expected as captured by the Stockbrokers report that Mascom (78%), Orange (53%) and beMobile (39%) are fighting for this segment.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021
Botswana-economic-recovery-depends-on-successful-vaccine-rollout---BoB-

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021
Inside-the-UB-BDF-fighter-Jet-tragedy-report

Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021
JAKO HUBONA

A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.” 

Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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