Botswana: bring online tourism home

BUSINESS

|
Image: BEDIA CEO Lameck Ntekela. By John Churu
BEDIA CEO Lameck Ntekela

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Tourism to Botswana is reported to be booming, but the country still lacks a thriving online tourism industry, with only a handful of local web developers and a dearth of home-grown e-tourism sites.

A random attempt to seek information about tourist destinations and resorts in Botswana is painstaking. The information available locally is threadbare to say the least.

If available, it is readily abundant on websites that are housed outside the country, a state of affairs that does not augur well with most visitors, both, local and international. More than forty years after independence, Botswana’s tourism database is still in the hands of outside tour operators, an issue that stakeholders say should be addressed as a matter of urgency in this day of advanced information and communication technology bearing in mind that Botswana is a middle-income-rated country.

Commenting on the issue, the CEO of the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), Lameck Ntekela, said the issue was a “catastrophe”, which calls for concerted efforts to have it addressed.

“My own opinion is that we do have our own sites particularly those that are operated locally by our own people in the sector.  However, the majority of websites with information on Botswana comes from outside. This is because these outside hosts’ servers and the domain names are administered by the USA and the UK,” said Ntekela without further clarification.

I spoke to Ari Kalmari, of the AikaGroup, which is a Finnish development consulting company doing work for the government of Botswana on ICT related issues.

Kalmari is the project advisor with the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) and seem to have an immeasurable amount of information about the state of web development, ICT and related issues in Botswana.

I prodded him to quantify on the number of web development firms in the country. Kalmari said there were roughly about 12 companies that are doing web development professionally in Botswana. However he added: “There are probably 10-15 ICT companies doing web development on part time basis.”

Marginal web development growth

Kalmari said there was “a very marginal growth” in as far as the number of people launching their sites for e-commerce or on-line bookings for tourism purposes were concerned because this was a fairly new area that was still being explored. Ari Kalmari, of the AikaGroup

“e-Commerce website launches have grown in the past five years we have been operating especially since FNB introduced the first online payment gateway in Botswana. However, it is still a new concept and companies are still coming to terms with the idea and how it can be used in their businesses,” explained Kalmari. 

In addition, “industry still has to define strategies to ensure they have formidable fulfillment processes to build confidence in e-Commerce.” As for the availability of relevant skills in the country to enable the development and growth of the ICT sector, Kalmari explained: “There are development skills in php/mySQL technologies, but experience is vastly lacking. Some skills are available within the developed companies in the sector.” However, he continued that there are not enough development skills as most developers know how to develop site but not e-commerce enabled sites and associated services.

Coming to the contentious issue of the non-availability of e-tourism related sites in the country which are outnumbered by foreign based sites, the government consultant had this to say on the issue, “This has largely been due to the fact that e-Commerce has only been introduced in Botswana two years ago. Before that, the tourism industry had no choice but to use foreign banks and service providers to link them to payment gateways. The realization is slowly creeping in that it can be done locally and money can be received in Botswana Pula.”

However, Kalmari explained that the other reason for this was “Because local tourism sites were not being promoted enough to the local companies to use, and the legacy of tourism bookings was effectively done outside Botswana. On the other hand, he noted that the tourism industry was not being controlled by Batswana (locals) therefore; they use their friends outside the country. Government should require bookings to be made locally and promote local sites.”

Kalmari added that there is also a lack of finance for companies who want to develop local platforms for tourism in the country.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

TNM first quarter net profit jumps to K1.8 billion

Malawi's mobile telecoms network service provider TNM continues to realise an increase in net profit from operations. Read More

Revenues from tablet games to triple

New data from Juniper Research has revealed that by 2019 worldwide revenues from tablet games will reach $13.3 billion – a threefold rise on the 2014 figure of $3.6 billion. Read More

Airtel Uganda hosts high value customers at Business Leaders’ Forum

Enterprise Director, Airtel Uganda, Mr. Oladapo P. Sorinolu Airtel Uganda has hosted an Enterprise Expo in Mbarara district, Western Uganda, as part of efforts to provide practical and modern business solutions to its high value customers.  Read More

Safaricom, Airtel complete yuMobile deal

Safaricom and Airtel have completed the US$120 million acquisition of yuMobile from Essar Telecom. Read More

GrowthAfrica, Usahibu partner to solve SME accounting issues

Kenyan accelerator GrowthAfrica has partnered cloud computing firm Uhasibu in a bid to address the accounting and financial software needs of East African startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Read More

Top 10 risks worth considering when expanding into Africa

Companies planning to expand across Africa must make a concerted effort to understand the risks, and not assume they “know” Africa, says ContinuitySA. Read More

Shop Soko connects Kenyan artisans to lucrative international markets

A new e-commerce platform, Shop Soko, is helping Kenyans access a lucrative international market. Read More

Ricoh SA begins rollout of new services-led strategy, Africa expansion

Jacques van Wyk has been appointed Ricoh SA’s new COO to drive the expanded strategy that will enable the business to become a services-led organisation and see its expansion into the rest of Africa. Read More

Stock Exchange launches news service

A news service by the name of X-News has become the latest product coming from the local bourse, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) recently. Read More

Telkom forays into Botswana through acquisition

South African telecommunications giant Telkom is making inroads into the Botswana market through the acquisition of an ICT company, Business Connexion (BCX).  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

Safaricom-Equity battle for mobile banking hots up Safaricom-Equity battle for mobile banking hots up

Equity bank's entry to the mobile banking and telephony industry is still hanging in the balance with London-based global association of mobile operators (GSMA) calling for independent audit. 

IN DEPTH

Kenya rolls out e-extension to improve agricultureKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture

In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.