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Mobile operators look to digital inclusion

Keikantse Lesemela

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Mascom MD Jose Couciero.

Mascom Chief Executive, Jose Couciero said they are looking into digital inclusion as the potential source of revenue growth because mobile subscription is no longer a major driver.

Botswana has one of the highest records of mobile penetration in Africa at 176 percent, Internet users’ stand at 21.4 percent while the fixed line telephony services stand at 8.2 percent. “As the Botswana mobile market evolves, we observe that mobile subscriber growth alone is no longer a major driver for revenue growth. Rather, the potential for the market is in digital inclusion through access to mobile and fixed broadband,” Couciero.

He said they have invested significantly in deploying their own transmission backbone and Metropolitan fibre rings to prepare their business to enter the residential markets with bundle offers of Internet, voice and content. “I am excited to confirm that we now offer fixed broadband services using both fibre and 4.5G wireless technology. These technologies offer high speed internet for TV live streaming and online games without interruptions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) observed the increased usage of social media platforms which has negatively affected the traditional voice call services resulting in decreased turnover for the company. Recently, BTCL Managing Director, Anthony Masunga also highlighted that competition in the telecommunications sector continued to intensify with the entry of new internet service providers leading to a downward pressure on prices.

On the other hand, another competitor, Orange Botswana is currently constructing a data centre which will enable the company to offer telecommunication and internet services without interruptions. The Orange Data Centre will cover 81% of the population with the 2G technology, 62% of the population with 3G technology and 45% of the population with 4G technology, offering the greater levels of security, flexibility and accessibility to data and information around the world.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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