In its firm effort to encourage the use of internet in the mist of COVID-19 crisis, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) engaged telecommunications operators on discussions centred on reduction of data prices, a factor that has many on their feet during this predicament.
BOCRA as the regulator and an enabler of market development exists to enable choices to be made by both the market and the consumer, ensuring that there is full and healthy competition in the market. Every year BOCRA reviews prices of the services that they regulate and this year, the focus was centred on mobile data prices.
When addressing members of the media in Gaborone this week, Chief Executive Officer Martin Mokgware said in the advent of COVID-19, affordability of communications services is more critical than ever before, saying people need data to access COVID-19 related information.
‘’COVID-19 virus is relatively new to the entire world and more information needs to be shared. If they do not have access to internet it will be difficult for them to access such information on a number of issues that include how they can protect the deadly virus, would not be able to telework, they would not learn remotely and would not connect to their families and loved ones in the event they are quarantined,’’ he said.
Mokgware further indicated that as BOCRA, they want all citizens to be fully connected so as to be able to use the full potential of digital technologies. ‘’There is a need to address few factors in order to have full connectivity. Lack of relevant content particularly local content is one factor that prevents full connectivity, as well as lack of digital skills to operate these technologies. BOCRA found lack of good quality of internet service provision as a challenge that still surfaces even during this crisis.’’
He however stressed that BOCRA will in September 2020 invite internet service providers to apply for their spectrum that would allow them to invest in and provide fixed wireless technologies. ‘’Our mobile technology in Botswana is universal and we have surpassed the 95 per cent mark.
That means we are doing well in the telecommunications sector, therefore our focus is more on fixed wireless technologies. We will be rolling out this spectrum to our operators in September because we want people to operate from home. They are able to do their work from their comfort zones, and this will enable children to learn from home as well. This is one way in which as BOCRA we strive to help contain the spread of the virus. We encourage our operators to start investing in high quality internet’’
Further, Mokgware told fourth estate that BOCRA managed substantially to reduce mobile data prices across all products and services provided by their operators. For his part, Director of Business Development Noble Katse said some internet packages across all products have been discontinued, saying the newly introduced packages are now competitive. ‘‘Some of our operators dealt away with old packages and introduced new bundles, while for some packages volumes have been kept constant.’’
According to information from the communications regulator, most of the internet packages from all operators realized a significant reduction. Orange Botswana reduced the 1 month All My Internet package of 2 gigabytes by 43 per cent to be P34.50 per gigabyte. The 4 gigabyte data bundle also saw a significant reduction of 55 per cent, which is approximately P24. 75 per gigabyte.
The Orange Prepaid Konnecta saw the introduction of new packages with new prices that vary according to the data bundle purchased. The newly introduced 12.5 gigabyte is priced P199.00, while the 30 gigabyte is sold P349.00. Mascom My Mix prepaid packages also saw a reduction of its 1 month validity data bundles by 22, 27, 32 and 41 per cent for the 32, 2, 4 and 16 gigabyte data bundles respectively. Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) prices did not change as they are already competitive.
The Botswana Public Officers Fund (BPOPF) is now mandated by law to have pension fund administration and investment management conducted by independent licensed entities.
This means that these functions must be fully outsourced. This became necessary due to the enacting by Parliament of the Retirement Funds Act in 2014 (RFA Act) and the promulgation of subsidiary legislation governing the RFA Act by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBIFIRA).
Therefore, the outsourcing project name coded Gata Le Rona journey comes to completion as the BPOPF hands over fund administration outsourcing services to NMG Administrators Botswana. NMG Administrators Botswana will be collecting contributions on behalf of the BPOPF, maintain all Member records, payment of claims, permit any excess cash to the BPOPF for investment and manage pensioner payroll. The BPOPF remains committed to building brighter futures together.
Following a significant 19-month long transition journey, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), officially handed over fund administration services to NMG Administrators Botswana, as the outsourcing project comes to fruition. The project, which began in October 2019, commenced following amendments to the Retirement Funds Act (Section 15 (i).
Effective 2 June 2021, NMG Administrators Botswana will collect contributions on behalf of the BPOPF, maintain all Member records, payment of claims, permit any excess cash to the BPOPF for investment and manage pensioner payroll.
Noted CEO of the BPOPF, Mr. Moemedi Malindah, “This is a large-scale project and one we are proud to say was managed with the utmost diligence, with our Members at heart in all that we did and indeed continue to do. The BPOPF continues to engage all key stakeholders to ensure this transition is a smooth one.
Members can be rest assured that their pensions and benefits are not affected as NMG Administrators Botswana takes over the day-to-day fund administration tasks. This is a bright new chapter and we are more than ready and confident in the future.”
NMG Administrators Botswana is a joint venture between Lecha Administration (a company owned 100% by the BPOPF) and NMG South Africa. Lecha Administration owns 51% shares and NMG South Africa owns 49% shares in NMG Administrators Botswana.
“Re a leboga, Batswana, for your patience and support; especially our valued Members. We remain committed to investing in your golden years and building a brighter future together,” concluded Malindah.
“As part of the bank’s quest to fulfil its financial inclusion mandate, Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) has focused more on expanding its footprint across the country to take its services to the communities it serves during the 2020 fiscal period” said Nixon Marumoloa, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
According to the CEO, BSB’s focus in 2020 was expansion, visibility, continued mobilization and delivery of its inclusive finance agenda to provide simple, appropriate and accessible financial solutions to the under-served in a sustainable manner.
“In order to achieve our goal, the bank had to make compromises on some of our short-term goals in order to fulfil long term solutions to our customers. In advancing the bank’s financial inclusion agenda, we are proud to announce that BSB launched four (4) Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Gaborone, Mogoditshane, Old Naledi and Bokaa. This is in partial fulfillment of our strategy and commitment to our communities to ensure that our products and services are accessible to all. It gives us pride to be the sole service provider in these areas where financial services were previously non- existent,” Marumoloa said.
Botswana Savings Bank is currently approaching the final year of its strategic period of 2016-2021. Marumoloa said BSB is now more determined to ensure that the Bank totally transforms to provide life events, cradle to grave products through digitised service channels for all income groups in Botswana and beyond.
Improved products will be launched into the market during 2021, moving on to 2022. The highlight product for the new financial year, according to the CEO is the Pensioners Loan facility.
“This product will ensure that the marginalised senior citizens continue to have financial freedom and access to financial services during their years of retirement,” he noted.
Further, the BSB CEO added that it is in the final year of the strategic period that the digitisation and integration programme will be executed and partially completed, with some elements overlapping into the following financial year. He said Point of Sales Machines will be deployed across the bank’s network to enable the phasing out of passbooks which will be replaced with Visa enabled BSB Debit Cards.
“As other banks close branches, we will open new branches and service points across the country to ensure we live up to our mandate of financial inclusion,” he stated.
The History of BSB stretches back more than 20 years. The bank has since experienced transformational growth, moving from a traditional bank to a 21st century financial institution with independent branches in Gaborone, Francistown, Serowe, Mahalapye and Hukuntsi.
The BSB Chairman Mr Kealeboga Molelowatladi added that BSB continues to increase its physical proximity to its customers as part of its financial inclusion mandate which has been embedded into the bank’s corporate strategy.
“Ultimately, our goal is to increase our footprint and brand visibility as we provide affordable savings solutions across the country,” he expanded. Moreover, Mr Molelowatladi highlighted that The Bank is determined to ensure that it delivers on it’s five-year strategic plan by end of 2021. He noted that the bank has embarked on various long-term projects that are currently work in progress.
These projects are part of the bank’s growth strategy with a focus to increase our footprint in Botswana.
Mr Molelowatladi stated that, this includes the opening of new branches across the country to ensure that BSB’s services are accessible to all Batswana.
However, he revealed that a major drawback in implementing the bank’s strategy was lack of integration of systems. As a solution however, he affirmed that the Bank is working on implementing new systems to improve the bank’s efficiency and effectiveness.
“We are looking forward to the phasing out of the traditional passbooks as we introduce digital channels and automate our processes for customer convenience. We remain confident that despite the rapid changes in our economic environment, our strategic priorities will enable us to drive sustainable growth for our business,’ he said.
During the same period, he also revealed that the bank identified a superior banking system that will be implemented and rolled out by 2021. He said, this banking system shall be the backbone in the bank’s digital transformation. In his views, it is through this system that the bank will optimize its internal processes to provide a sound value proposition to Batswana and improve profitability of the bank by reducing the cost to income ratio.
The Bank continues to be profitable, with the year ended 31 March 2021 returning a modest profit after tax of P5.2 million due to pressure on both revenue and rising costs. Although the result could be easily read as a regression on the results of the year before, a simple reduction of the government grant received in the previous year paints a picture of a bank that is set to realize an improvement in its operating margins when measured by a significant growth in advances. The bank’s balance sheet continues to grow year on year.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hinderances have become quite the norm but the Bank has managed to persevere and remain true to its strategic objectives. This reflects the undeniable resilience and the progressive leadership that is at the helm of the Bank. The expansion plans that are underway are a harbinger of the growth and success that BSB is on the verge of achieving.
As part of its promise to making service delivery convenient for its customers, BotswanaPost introduces its newest offering geared at enhancing the traditional post box as we know it.
This is also in line with our concerted efforts of making a significant impact in the digitization of doing business in Botswana as envisioned by our shareholder, the government of Botswana. In fulfilling our mandate to provide universal postal access to all, Virtual Post Box is a merging of our core mandate – provision of postal services in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The Virtual Post Box affords customers to register their mobile phone numbers to be used as their designated Post Box number to receive mail and related services from BotswanaPost. The customer’s mobile number will be linked to a post office of their choice for mail delivery. Furthermore, the customer also has a choice to opt for home/office delivery.
This is a departure from the commonly known traditional postal box characterized by the uniquely addressable, lockable box located on the premises of a Post Office station. Post Office boxes are rented by individuals or by businesses on an annual basis and the cost of rent vary depending on the type of box (Private, Individual etc.)
This offering is of value especially to Small, medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) as it provides them with the capacity to operate as one stop shops. The Virtual Post Box places clients at the forefront of technology, resulting in reliability of unmatched customer service.
The unique development of the Virtual Post Box fits into our strategy of bringing services to our customers with ease. The service comes in at a time when the world is still dealing with the COVID – 19 pandemic and ensuring we operate within the prescribed protocol. This has necessitated transformation into the digital space.” Chief Commercial Officer – Clifford Lekoko
“The virtual Post Box is in line with our Mission of “Providing affordable convenience through high quality profitable postal and diversified products and services” where we leverage on technology as a major business sustainability anchor in the face of diminishing traditional postal business. This will facilitate and enable E-Commerce for the diverse market we serve as it gives the customer power in terms of cost and tracking of one’s mail.”- General Manager Courier & Mail Business – Tumelo Mereyotlhe.
What’s key to note about this new service ;
Gives customers a smart and convenient way to manage their postal mail remotely
Its more affordable compared to the normal postal box
Saves customers time to visit the postal branch due to mail incoming notifications
Gives Customers an opportunity to re – direct mail to their current location
Mail is securely monitored via tracking system and safely stored in the post office for collection
Offers privacy of mail as the owner will be allowed to collect unless he or she has directed someone to collect on their behalf
The online portal gives a history of all customer mail acting as a mail management system making it possible to monitor the customers mail volumes
Anyone above the age of 18 can open a virtual post box
Annual Fee; BWP 200.00 Mass Market & BWP 2000.00 Business
Penalty Fee – BWP 5.00 per day for 30 Days (Cumulative) only
Storage Fee – BWP 5 .00 per day for 30 Days (Cumulative) only
Re – direction Fee – BWP 30 .00
Home / Office delivery – Per EMS tariff
For details customers can reach us on our customer line at +267 39 11 743, WhatsApp # 77537517 or send an email to email@example.com to find out more about Botswana Post’s virtual post box.