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BTC Celebrates 40 years of technology leadership

BTCL MD: Anthony Masunga

Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTC) kicked off a program to mark its 40th Anniversary as Botswana’s leading and pioneering technology and telecommunications company enabling the socio-economic development of Botswana.

History

BTC was established in 1980 by an Act of Parliament to operate and manage Botswana’s national and international telecommunications services. Before then, telecommunications services were provided by the Department of Post and Telecommunications. BTC has made great strides from offering analogue microwave links to fixed telephony to become a converged telecommunications operator offering fixed (voice and data), mobile (voice and data) and broadband services.

Nteletsa Project
In 1999 BTC in partnership with the Government embarked on the Nteletsa project to bring telecommunications services to previously underserved areas. Phase two of the project which commenced in 2008 established Kitsong Centres (Internet Cafes) in 148 villages, as part of a rural telecommunications programme to bridge the digital divide.

Establishment of mobile service

In 2008, BTC launched its mobile service following the liberalisation of the industry awarding network operators service neutral licences. The network grew and expanded to cover almost 90% of the population.

BTC Listing

In 2016, the listing of BTC on the Botswana Stock Exchange, was a watershed moment in economic inclusion, bringing more than 50,000 Batswana into BTC ownership, the broadest shareholding of any company in Botswana.

Leader in digital and communication services

From providing rotary dial phones and operating manual telephone exchanges in 1980, BTC has now completed a digitalisation journey that started almost two decades ago. The company has evolved to partner with Government as the Nation transitions to a knowledge- based economy.

BTC Managing Director Anthony Masunga said: “We state in our purpose that ‘we exist to provide superior digital solutions to our people to enable them to live connected’. Our team of over 1000 people are exceedingly proud of our track record spanning 40 years. We are looking forward to celebrating a unique milestone of four decades with our customers and communities across the length and breadth of this country.

“We have transformed the business beyond telecommunications and broadband solutions, into all forms of digital and ICT solutions. In 2019, we commissioned the Sentlhaga Data Centre, the only local Uptime Tier Two Certified Data Centre in Botswana housing local and international content such as Facebook, YouTube Google and Classmate. We take the bold view that speeding up digital transformation is critical to helping the local economy bounce back from the debilitating effects of COVID-19,” he added.

Enhanced customer experience

To kickstart the transformation journey, BTC has launched a programme to reinvigorate BTC’s internal culture and customer experience to drive a positive trajectory into the future. “We are putting in place measures to offer excellent quality service to all our stakeholders; offering exciting products and services while giving back millions in prizes through various promotions such as our Hawkers Challenge, Recharge & Win and many more,” said the BTC Managing Director.

BTC Foundation 
Over the years, BTC has also supported a number of key local projects in the form of donations and sponsorships ranging from sport to the arts and skills development. Through the remainder of 2020 and beyond, the Foundation will continue to be the vehicle through which BTC delivers its CSI agenda with a focus on impact and sustainability to help the Nation, emerge stronger and more resilient in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mr. Masunga.

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Business

BancABC’s new brand promise places prominence on enhanced customer experience 

30th March 2021
BANC-ABC

BancABC, the BSE-listed bank, today announced the launch of its new brand promise, “We Understand You” to further encapsulate the Bank’s commitment to its customers and their needs.

The rationale for the launch comes at a time that requires innovative and agile financial solutions in order to improve customer’s banking experience, deliver consistent quality service and solidify relationships established over the years.

Commenting on the launch, BancABC Managing Director, Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “The launch of our new brand promise follows a deep dive into our employees, customers, partners, and investors’ expectations, which was prudent in order to understand their evolving needs.  We have taken heed of all the feedback received and remain committed to continuously seeking ways to offer improved products and services, reinventing financial solutions and above all, a seamless banking experience.”

The launch of the three year “We Understand You” campaign, comes on the back of the Bank’s 10th anniversary, and in these rapidly changing and tumultuous times, the Bank has moved with dexterity to fortify its value proposition to its customers. Through the launch of this new brand promise, the Bank seeks to strengthen its offerings within Retail, SMME and Corporate banking.

The Bank’s previous brand promise was “Changing For You” and has now evolved into the “We Understand You” that reflects BancABC’s commitment to understanding its customers’ needs, offering solutions for every stage of their life and business journey, as they strive towards achieving their financial goals.

In light of prioritizing customer experience, the Bank increased its transactional capabilities by launching a new 3D Secure programme called Verified by Visa. This online security protocol, which provides cardholders with an additional authentication layer that confirms the validity of their identity, prevents the unauthorised usage of payment cards. Additionally, BancABC introduced Contactless debit and credit cards, which give customers the convenience of making payments by simply tapping their card on contactless Point-of-Sale machines.

“These customer-centric solutions are a demonstration of our promise to positioning ourselves as the preferred bank for the people of Botswana. These are also proof points of the Bank’s efforts to enhance the transactional capabilities by offering customers hassle-free functionalities that encourage them to transact more; and as a result, improve the overall value proposition,” says Grace Setlhare-Mankanku, Head of Retail Banking.

BancABC also made significant efforts to increase its geographical footprint, by adding four new ATMs to its network at the various Sales and Service Centres across the country, to decrease traffic at the branches and services centres and provide customers with easy access to banking services.

To better serve customers who prefer remote banking and to promote social distancing practices, BancABC successfully its revamped mobile banking platform, SaruMoney which is accessible through USSD and as an App. The Bank continues to expand capabilities on the SaruMoney platform in line with its focus on innovative digital banking solutions.

Designed with the typical Botswana bank user’s needs in mind, SaruMoney has increased security features, ensuring safe, accessible, reliable, and universal movement of funds. Additionally, BancOnline, the state-of-the-art digital platform, tailor-designed for improving the digital banking experience for Commercial Banking customers has also helped spur growth in BancABC’s transactional volumes, further entrenching the Bank as Botswana’s bank of choice.

“We Understand You” is an outward expression to our customers and the communities we serve, and it affirms that we acknowledge them, hear them, and recognise their needs. This is particularly essential for us right now, as we are required to be nimble in order to adapt to market changes, trends, as well as customers’ dynamic needs.

I firmly believe that our new brand promise is a testament to our business’s ability to respond to the evolving market conditions while ensuring we deliver quality services for the next ten years and beyond,” concludes Bannalotlhe.

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Corporate

Digitalization safe to restore future economic challenges-Huawei

18th March 2021
Huwaei & Botho

Giant Information and Communications Technology service provider, Huawei Botswana and Botho University have established a partnership to bring a cutting-edge ICT gear to Botswana for the future use of teaching and research.

As the world continues to choke on COVID-19 contagious waves and economies declining, knowledge and digitalization could be key powers critical in bringing stability and fast restoration for both social and economic challenges, post the COVID-19 fever.

This was said by Huawei Botswana Managing Director, Ye Huihui, at the launch of Huawei Academy at Botho University on Thursday in Gaborone. Huawei Botswana has invested in the academy that will see two hundred students enrolled for ICT studies and research every year.

“Setting up the Huawei ICT Academy in partnership with Botho University was not an option, rather a must to enable the young generation to learn and use the expertise to safe work and also to bring economical balance to everyone. Huawei, as a solution in the global ICT space, we carry a lot of expertise from technology.

We established through our digitally linked business platform to build a robust internal knowledge community. We will be grateful to share our global cases to this nation and its citizens to help them to ease the way to the recovery process,” said Huihui.

Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe shared the same sentiments, saying COVID-19 has rapidly morphed into an unprecedented health, economic, sociocultural and geopolitical crisis. The education minister says the impact on the educational sector resulted in the disruption of learning at all levels of education (as evident by the poor performance in the BGCSE).

“The use of ICT has taken precedence in order for institutions to stay afloat in the space of training for the knowledge-based economy. The need to increase access to off campus online teaching and learning is seen as a measure which can support the learning never stops initiative.”

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. Technology, Letsholathebe says, has made possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of people’s personal lives.

Huawei has provided fully equipped labs for the new academy and training materials for various courses worth P350 000. Through these labs, Botho University will target to train more than 200 students per year in the latest technologies such as routing and switching, cloud computing, internet of things, 5G technology, big data, storage and artificial intelligence. Further, students who have demonstrated interest in the ICT sector will get a chance to enrol for the various courses at Huawei Academy for free. The academy will host multiple creative learning resources such as books, lab guides, e-learning and online tests, along with various simulation tools.

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Business

Letshego delivers robust 2020 financials amid Covid-19 crisis

9th March 2021
Letshego

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Letshego demonstrated strong business resilience and effective risk management, resulting in robust financial performance for the financial year ended December 2020.

After a challenging first half, the second half of the year saw the start of a recovery in many economies across the group’s footprint, albeit constrained again by a second wave that emerged towards the end of the year, and into 2021. Despite the challenging economic environment, Letshego delivered profit before tax in excess of P1 Billion, bridging the net year on year decrease from 20% in H1, to a single digit of 9% in H2.

Performance was underpinned by 12% growth in net customer advances, and asset quality improved with an overall reduced Loan Loss Ratio of 0.3%. Business resilience was further demonstrated by a reduction in Non-Performing Loans to 5.3%.

Customer access was maintained and enhanced during the financial period under review, thanks to fast tracking of the digitalisation of systems and channels. The group also improved its business performance in the second half of the year compared to the first half.

Net interest income was P1.9 Billion (FY 2019: P2.1 Billion). The outcome, Letshego says, was better than expected with increased pay-out volumes experienced in the second half, improving on first half volumes that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Second half pay-outs peaked with the highest net pay-outs for the year of P647 Million recorded in October. According to financials released this week, borrowing costs decreased by 8% year-on-year, with the group progressing on its longer term journey to diversify funding.

Non-funded income reduced by 15% year-on-year, mainly affected by the change in Namibia’s insurance arrangement, which decreased by 21% year-on-year following the initial revision in October 2019 to meet new statutory requirements.

Letshego’s total operation income expenses of P1.9 Billion increased by 1% from 2019. Employee costs increased by 9%. These included one-off exit costs as well as the recruitment of senior resources. Other operating expenses decreased by 4%, although increased expenditure was incurred on advertising, COVID-19-related IT costs and consultancy fees related to building the digital platform, a statement on the financial reveals.

The group demonstrated strong full year 2020 credit performance despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Expected Credit Losses as a percentage of Gross Advances reduced from 7.7% in December 2019 to 5.4% in December 2020 in line with impaired portfolio.

“We recorded a low loan loss ratio of 0.3%, down from 1.7% in 2019 and this was attributable to the release of mobile provisions of P105.3 Million, reversal of COVID-19 provisions on the back of repayment holidays, improvement in asset quality, collections, recoveries and the recovery of single exposure employer partners,” reads the FY 2020 financial statement.

Overall, deposits from customers increased by 56% to P664 Million, as compared to the previous year’s P427 Million. Deposit growth was the result of retail deposits increasing by 46% to P315 Million. The group also saw an increase in corporate deposits (66% to P349 Million). In 2019, corporate deposits closed the year with P210 Million.

The financial statement indicates that liquidity remained stable with year-end cash and cash equivalents at P1 Billion. Letshego says sustained interest from international investors and developmental financial institutions continues to support its liquidity and effective management of debt maturities.

With the ongoing credit scorecard optimization, Letshego says mobile loans provisions reduced by P105.3 Million, with the portfolio enjoying increased stability and continued enhancement in credit risk management. The group indicated in its financial statement that, repayment holidays were granted for loans amounting to P683.7 Million at June comprising of 7% of the group’s total loan portfolio, with additional relief provided via loan restructures.

The group recovered P35 Million during the financial period, with major contributions from improved employer contributions in Eswatini and general provision reversals post closure of payment holiday support.

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