Botswana: bring online tourism home
BUSINESS| Oct. 12, 2011, 3:18 p.m.
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.
“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.
MORE BUSINESS NEWS
Riverbed to be acquired by Thoma Bravo in $3.6bn dealRiverbed Technology has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by leading private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo, LLC and Teachers’ Private Capital, the private investor department of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Read More
Egyptian revival spurs MEA PC market growthThe PC market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region grew 2.1 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), spurred by the revival of the Egyptian market and two significant education deals in Pakistan. Read More
ICT set to shape Africa's economic landscape in 2015With public cloud in emerging African countries set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of up to 84% over the coming five years, the year 2015 heralds the beginning of a new era for ICT adoption across the continent, says IDC. Read More
88mph and Microsoft Ventures partner to support startups in NigeriaMicrosoft, in partnership with 88mph, has announced the expansion of the Microsoft Ventures program into Nigeria. Read More
Riverbed names new senior VP of Sales in EMEARiverbed Technology has announced that Kristian Thyregod has been promoted to Senior Vice President Sales, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Read More
M&A, infrastructure sharing, liberalisation to reshape telecoms in AfricaMergers, acquisitions, infrastructure sharing and market liberalisation will reshape Africa’s telecommunications markets by 2018, according to market analysts Frost & Sullivan. Read More
Dell, Intel study uncovers truth behind technology and the workforceDell and Intel have unveiled findings from its second Global Evolving Workforce Study, which identifies, and explores current and future trends pertaining to the workplace and workforce, and the role that technology has played in their evolution. Read More
PWC: Optimism abounds but a bumpy journey ahead for somePwC’s ‘Capital Projects & infrastructure in East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa,’ report says infrastructure spend in the region is projected to reach $180bn per annum by 2025. Read More
Why govt listed Glo, others as top firmsNigeria’s national carrier, Globacom and 99 other top notch firms have been listed as top 100 Firms in Nigeria for the 2014 fiscal year. The top 100 companies list is based on international benchmark set by the International Integrated Reporting Council. Read More
Women can lead 21st century ICT industry, says Zinox chiefWith the right mix of innovation, business focus, accountability and ambition, women entrepreneurs can spearhead the evolution of the ICT industry in the 21st century, says the Chairman, Zinox Group. Read More
FEATURED STORYPWC: Optimism abounds but a bumpy journey ahead for some
PwC’s ‘Capital Projects & infrastructure in East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa,’ report says infrastructure spend in the region is projected to reach $180bn per annum by 2025.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.