Cell phone subscribers top 3 million in Botswana
Mmegi.bw - Jul 23rd, 10:22
Cellphone subscriptions in Botswana reached 3.08 million at the end of last year, nearly double the number recorded in 2008, with similar jumps in the uptake of various Internet services, BusinessWeek has established.
Data revealed this week by the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority data also revealed that mobile teledensity in 2012 was nearly 153 percent. When infants are excluded from the population, the data suggests an average ratio of two cellphone subscriptions per person.By March last year, mobile teledensity was measured at 144 percent, being amongst the highest in Africa and the developing world.
According to the data, the number of cell phone subscriptions opened 2012 at 2.92 million, breaching the three million mark in October, before ending the year at 3.08 million. BOCRA's data, however, also shows that annual growth in mobile subscriptions slowed down last year, when compared to the rate in the years after 2008.
Cell phone subscriptions grew at compound annual growth rate of 12.4 percent between 2008 and 2011, a rate that slows to 11 when data from 2012 is included. While the data does not provide reasons for the slowdown in 2012, Botswana Stock Exchange-listed retail counters have all alluded to difficult consumer spending dynamics last year due to the slow recovering economy as well as the absence of a significant public service wage increase.
Previous estimates indicate that Mascom generally accounts for just over half of all mobile subscribers, with Orange's market share ranging between 33 and 35 percent and beMobile taking the balance.
Prior to beMobile's entrance in 2008, data shows the mobile telephone market was generally split 60/40 in favour of Mascom.
BOCRA data also shows growth in fixed lines, as provided by the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, from about 144,000 in 2008 to 160,500 last year. On the uptake of Internet services, the authority's figures show that from around 6,000 broadband subscribers in 2008, subscriptions grew to 18,838 last year.
However, the "miracle" story has been in the uptake of mobile internet services which ballooned from ground level around in the last decade to 339,926 subscriptions by the end of September 2012.The figure only refers to data card subscriptions, popularly known as dongles, and does not include access to internet via cellphones, as is common through services such as the Blackberry Internet Service.
Available figures indicate that by last March, the country had 259,486 mobile Internet subscribers, rising to 339,926 by September. Botswana ISP Association chairman, Semere Tekie told BusinessWeek that the growth of internet subscriptions over the years is directly linked to government's investments in bringing undersea data cables to the local economy.
"The one driver has been the investment that government has made in undersea cables, which, as they arrived, have brought greater access and allowed price reductions," he said."On the corporate side, there has been increased investment in alternative access networks allowing for increased uptake at higher bandwidth. This is a natural growth where more businesses are going online such as internet banking."
Tekie however noted that the growth seen over the years had not rubbed off on households and potential users outside urban areas due to the high costs associated with access infrastructure.
"Very little has been happening in the household sector," he said."There has been limited investment in access networks because getting into households requires levels of investment that are seen as not worth making as long as wholesale internet costs are still high. Although the undersea cables have brought costs down, the level they have come down to do not allow for the mass market to be attractive. They still have to come down significantly".
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