Digital migration is a significant milestone in broadcasting, much like the switch from people using public payphones to now using mobile phones.
The journey started back in 2000, when the International Telecommunications Union, requested that countries switch from analogue to digital broadcasting and set a deadline date of 17 June 2015, for African countries.
The Minister of Communication, Science and Technology (MCST) then established a Digital Migration Task Force to develop a road map on how the country can migrate from analogue to digital television and deal with the technical and policy issues as well as the development of content for television.
Botswana, like many other countries, is on a race against time to make the switch over. Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of State President, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, said that Botswana will start the first phase of the switch over by the deadline date.
Kaboeamodimo, told media practitioners this week on Wednesday that Botswana is at the stage where transmission equipment is being tested for performance and the expected delivery date is May 2015.
“Based on the technical requirements for digital migration, the approved budget for 2014/2015 is P130 million,” informed Kaboeamodimo.
“This budget is for the initial activities of the project including production and transmission equipment, digital content acquisition and skills development.
In 2010, SADC countries agreed in Lusaka, Zambia, that member countries were free to choose any standard different from the recommended DVB-T2, as long as it complied with the requirements of ITU GE06 Plan.
“After an evaluation of recommended standards, Botswana chose the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial ISDB-T which originates in Japan.”
Aaron Nyelesi, Deputy Director – Corporate Communications at the Botswana Communications Regulation Authority (BOCRA), told WeekendPost in an earlier interaction, that going digital will carry with it some benefits, for consumers of broadcast material.
Explaining what digital migration is, Nyelesi said that it “is a new way of transmitting broadcasting television signals in the form of information or data. The data is made up of discrete digital signal of “0” and “1” compared to the old analogue signal which was a continuous wave. At the transmission side, the television picture (video and audio), either from pre-recorded material or live camera are converted into data, which is made up of a series of “1”s and “0”s and it is then sent through a digital broadcasting medium, which could either be terrestrial, satellite or cable. It should be noted that in this case the digital migration process is limited to terrestrial only.”
“The digital signal is received by an aerial at home which is connected to the decoder, Set Top Box (STB) or Digital Television Receiver. The STB converts the digital signal to an analogue signal. The STB then feeds the signal to a conventional TV set which converts the signal to pictures for viewing. Digital TV can also be transmitted directly to mobile stations such as vehicles, buses and portable devices.”
Nyelesi said that digital migration will bring with it several advantages, among them;
Efficient Bandwidth Utilisation: Digital broadcasting allows multiple television programmes to be accommodated within an 8 MHz channel. In the analogue system, only 1 television programme can be accommodated in a single 8 MHz channel.
“For example, up to 16 television programmes, depending on the modulation, can be accommodated into one 8MHz channel which carries only one analogue television channel. Further, it is possible to design a Single Frequency Network which is much more spectrum efficient, compared to the traditional multi-frequency network,” said Nyelesi.
Enhanced Competition: Under digital broadcasting the broadcasting content provider and the signal distributor/multiplex operator can be separated. This allows for more efficiency in sharing of resources and allows more broadcasters to enter the market to offer innovative and diverse broadcasting services.
Multiple Reception Modes: It allows broadcasters to offer diverse and a variety of services to meet the different needs of the consumers. The broadcast can be coded specifically for mobile or portable reception ensuring that a small portable/mobile receiver with a small antenna is still able to receive a robust signal like a fixed rooftop antenna.
Value added broadcasting services: It enables broadcasters to offer new value added broadcasting services such as, e-services e-gov., e-health etc., data and interactive services.
Better Image and Sound Quality: Because of the different coding and error correction techniques, it is possible to deliver much better visual and sound quality which is also more robust against transmission interference and reflections such as High Definition Television and 3D TV. Digital Dividend: Because of efficient bandwidth Utilisation, the introduction of digital broadcasting will free some of the broadcasting spectrum for other communication services such as broadband services.
Thabiso Maretlwaneng, director of Deezone Productions told this publication that digital migration is coming at the right time for content producers and that there were ample opportunities to fill the space that would be made available for broadcasting.
“We don’t have soapies, reality shows, game shows in this country, noted Maretlwaneng. But as deputy PS Kaboeamodimo pointed out, the limited space for broadcasting will now be a thing of the past with opportunities for more television channels opening up.
“Digital migration will also allow us to broadcast in HD (High Definition),” said Maretlwaneng.
“At the moment we broadcast at 4 by 3 aspect ratio but we shoot our videos at 16 by 9 ratios so we always have to decrease our quality because of the limited capabilities of the current set up.
Maretlwaneng said that Government has been consulting and engaging television content producers to keep them up to speed on developments.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.