Introduction - Republic of Botswana

The Republic of Botswana is in Southern Africa. Botswana is bordered by Namibia on the west and north, Zambia at a narrow strip in the north, Zimbabwe on the east, and South Africa on the east and south. Botswana has an area of 581,730 sq km with an estimated population of 2,154,863 million inhabitants (2017 Botswana Demographic Survey) and a literacy rate of 88.5%. 63% percent of the total population is between 15 and 64 years of age. Gaborone, the capital city, has a population of about 269,000 (2018). The official language is English.

Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. This is largely attributed to diamond mining, with Botswana having one of the world's largest diamond reserves. The revenue earned from diamonds are the primary driver of the Botswanan economy. However, recent economic and political changes in the region encouraged the Government to explore other means of diversifying the economy as dependence on mineral wealth forms a narrow economic base which is not sustainable. The Government established a Botswana and Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) in August 2005, who developed the "Botswana Excellence -- A Strategy for Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth" and Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines projects aimed at driving implementation of the Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth Strategy. Cabinet approved the Action Plan and Strategy in December 2006 and November 2008 respectively. The first National Vision lapsed in September 2016. It has been replaced by Vision 2036, which aims to transform Botswana from an upper middle-income country to a high income country by 2036. Botswana Statistics indicates that the real 2017 GDP per capita is 40,779 pula.

The development of a national ICT framework is perceived as a shift from a factor endowments economy to an efficiency driven economy that will pave way to an innovative driven economy. In this context Botswana's first National Information and Communications Technology Policy was approved by Parliament in 2007 [Maitlamo National Policy for ICT Development 2007]. In terms of ICT infrastructure, there are two diversified fibre links to South Africa. There are also radio links to Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are also direct Satellite links to UK, US, Canada as well as direct connectivity to London through SAT3 undersea cable. Botswana invested in both local and international fibre-optic networks to strengthen communication infrastructure. These include: NEPAD-Led Undersea Cable, East African Submarine System (EASSy), West African Festoon System and West Africa Coast Cable System (WACS). The National Backbone (TransKalahari Fibre Optic Ring) was installed in 2008 and funded by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (the national incumbent fixed line operator). These cross-border fibre optic cable connections connect Botswana to South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Internet Exchange point set up in 2005 significantly enhanced national connectivity.

In relation to telecommunications, according to Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority 2018 Annual Report there were 141,835 fixed phone lines subscriptions (a fall from 161,641 in 2016), 3.181 million mobile phone subscriptions (a fall from 3.46 million in 2016), 40,164 ADSL broadband subscriptions (a significant increase from 31,301 in 2016) and 10,350 fixed wireless broadband subscriptions at March 2018 (again with a significant increase from 3,180 in 2016). Tele-density of mobile telephony was 157% in March 2018 (falling from 171% in March 2016) and mobile Internet penetration has increased by 9% from from 1.404 million in March 2017 to 1.523 million in March 2018. Teledensity for fixed telephony is 7%.

Further penetration of ICTs, especially in rural areas, to bridge the digital divide is necessary to continue the development and integration of Botswana into the global economy. A number of infrastructure projects, such as submarine optic fibre cables linking the west and east coasts of Africa, were undertaken to improve reliability, capacity and speed of the national network, and thereby ensure better interconnectivity with neighbouring countries and globally. WACS and EAssy provide capacity of 98Gbps and 22Gbps respectively. Botswana international Internet Exchange Points of Presence are in United Kingdom, South Africa, Djibouti. 8,000km of fibre has been laid nation wide, connecting cities, towns and villages, providing an information high way.

There are now 4 public universities and 4 private Universities as well as about 40 Higher Education Institutes including DVET. Twenty of these are public.

ICT Background

The National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy builds on Government initiatives and aims to assist in achieving Vision 2036 by serving as a key catalyst in achieving social, economic, political and cultural transformation within the country.

The Botswana telecommunications market has three Public Telecommunications Operators (PTOs); Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC), Mascom Wireless Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Mascom) and Orange Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Orange). Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) was licensed in 2013 to provide wholesale services to other licensed service providers. Along with the major players are smaller players, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which provide value added services and internet on a smaller scale than PTOs and the Private Telecommunications Network Licence (PTNL) providers licensed to build private networks for internal business use.

The development of the National ICT Policy actively involved a wide range of participants from the public and private sectors, and civil society. It also took into account that relatively few people in Botswana own PCs or have access to the Internet at home. Many users rely on access to PCs and the Internet through employment or while receiving an education.

The overall objectives of the ICT Policy are to assist with three specific outcomes:

- Creation of an enabling environment for the growth of an ICT industry in the country;

- Provision of universal service and access to ICT facilities in the country; and

- Making Botswana a Regional ICT Hub to make the country's ICT sector globally competitive.

- To manage its complexity, the National ICT Policy is developed in the following key areas:

- Establishing the National ICT Vision, Goals and Objectives - to identify desired outcomes

- E-Readiness and Benchmarking - to establish the current level of ICT diffusion

- National ICT Policy - to identify and explain the key programmes and projects that are required to achieve the National ICT Vision, Goals and Objectives

- National ICT Master Plan - to define the various programmes and projects in greater detail, identifying the project deliverables, timelines, resources, programme dependencies and preliminary cost estimates

- An ICT Monitoring and Evaluation Programme - to measure progress and benefits achieved

In December 2010, an ICT Committee was constituted in the National Assembly. This was a promising development, as it provides a framework for Parliamentary oversight of National Policy in this important domain. The Ministry of Transport and Communications reports to the ICT Committee on the implementation of Maitlamo.

Botswana established a National Science and Technology Policy in 1998 through which all Science and Technology related developments could be coordinated. This policy was later revised during 2011 and a new Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Policy was approved by Cabinet and launched in 2012 to respond to the rapid technological evolution, globalisation, and national development goals as outlined in Vision 2016, which has elapsed and succeeded by Vision 2036, National Development Plans and Millennium Development Goals.

The National Research, Science and Technology Plan (2006 - 2011) highlighted the requirement to leverage Research and Technology Development (RTD) and Innovation cooperation through the Framework Programme for RTD, capacity-building under UN-Habitat, various technology platforms and partnerships. ICT, Innovation and the Information Society at large are highlighted as a key tool for achieving its development objectives. To conduct needs-based research and development in focused areas in accordance with national priorities, there are key institutions in addition to universities and other Higher Education institutions including: national research Institutions: Department of Research Science & Technology (DRST) under Ministry of Education responsible for coordinating research & innovation in the country, bringing researchers and the industry together; Botswana Institute of Technology Research & Innovation (BITRI), a parastatal under the Ministry of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology, established in 2012 to conduct needs-based research and development in focused areas; Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) innovative and networked organisation that promotes technology, entrepreneurship and commercialisation; Botswana National Veterinary Laboratory Research on Animal Health concentrating on animal health; Botswana National Food Research Centre (NAFTEC) taking care care of food security; and the Joint Research Committee (Government, Academia, Public) which brings researches and the industry together.

BITRI focuses on two thematic research areas: Natural Resources and Materials (Building Materials, Climate Change, Nanomaterials) and Technologies (Electronics and Communications, Energy, Information Systems and Technology). BITRI has a five-year strategic plan for 2015-2020 plan, which focuses on three main themes: Research and Development, Strategic Partnerships and Organizational Excellence. It is currently being implemented.

Botswana is making significant progress on innovation. The Botswana Innovation Hub and its subsidiary company occupied the initial phase of the Icon Building at the Science and Technology Park in December 2017. The park presents new developments, which aim to improve Botswana's digital infrastructure and therefore putting BIH in a key position to be a significant driver of Botswana's digital economy. The joint venure between the BIH and Dimension Data joint venture (local ICT company) will deliver a Tier Three Accredited Data Centre to offer Park tenants and clients outside the Park tailored ICT Services, BIH has also broadened the scope in the areas of Water Technologies and Solar. The deployment of a Mobile Water Treatment Plant in Zoroga demonstrates the power of harnessing the ecosystem to deliver impactful solutions

Botswana has created a converged communications regulatory environment by establishing the Communications Regulatory Authority Act of 2012 [No. 19 of 2012] to replace the previous separate regulation of telecommunications and broadcasting (Telecommunications Act (72:03) and the Broadcasting Act (72:04)).

Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) was established as an independent regulatory body to create and sustain an effective communications regulatory environment in Botswana. The Communications Regulatory Authority Act (2012) merged BTA and National Broadcasting Board (NBB) into the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), which was launched in April 2013. It is an independent telecommunications regulatory authority as per CAP 72:03, vested with authority to regulate and supervise all aspects of telecommunication common carriers and service providers that fall under its jurisdiction. The BOCRA is also mandated by the Broadcasting Act (CAP 72:04) to offer Secretariat services to the National Broadcasting Board (NBB) with regard to technical matters. BOCRA has a core mandate to create a transparent enabling regulatory environment through: managing the frequency spectrum; resolving industry disputes; setting industry standards; setting tariff principles and appropriate guidelines. BOCRA also ensures compliance with communications services regulatory framework through the management and monitoring of: service quality; customer satisfaction levels; broadcasting content; frequency spectrum; and terms and license conditions.

The issuance of service neutral licenses to Botswana's three major telephone and mobile operators in the market (Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Mascom, Orange and beMobile) is viewed as liberalization of Botswana's telecommunications industry. The license authorizes the three operators to provide national public telecommunication services over fixed or mobile, wire line or wireless, network links, using any available technology. However, BTC is the only fixed line operator in Botswana.

In 2012 BTC was split into two separate entities: Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) which is responsible for backbone fibre infrastructure access (wholesale focus) and BTC which is retail in focus and will be privatised.

Botswana is also hosting the Telecommunications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (TRASA) Programme office. TRASA is responsible for harmonisation of the Postal and Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) regulatory environment in the SADC region in order to improve the Postal and ICT business environment and investment climate in SADC.

In relation to the licensing of Postal Operators, BOCRA continues to attract new market entrants to the postal market. By March 2018, the Authority licensed two more commercial postal operators: MontelView Holdings (Pty) Ltd trading as DropIt and NorthGuys Messaging & Couriers (Pty) Ltd. These brought the total number of licensed postal operators to 22 commercial postal operators (courier companies) and one public postal operator, being BotswanaPost. Because of the diversion to electronic communication the commercial postal market recorded a total mail volume of 867 566 postal items compared to 1 279 093 postal items registered during the 2016/17 financial year.

An eGovernment Strategy was launched in 2012 and is coordinated by the Office of the President. eGovernment implementation is still ongoing with plans to iteratively provide most services online. The GDN Evolution project is ongoing to upgrade and convert the current network to a unified communication network that is able to deliver data, voice, video and Wi-Fi services all in one managed network.

In September 2015, a new and converged licensing framework was implemented to create a more conducive environment for ICT development. The framework has two major categories: Network Facilities Provider (NFP) Licence and the Services and Applications Provider (SAP) Licence. All PTOs, BoFiNet, PTNLs and few of the ISPs still held licences provided for under the old licensing framework were to migrate to the new licences in June 2017.

The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill were approved in 2013. The implementation of the National Public Key infrastructure (PKI) is envisaged.