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

Why govt listed Glo, others as top firms

Nigeria’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 chief

With 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

Leading through volatility in Africa

For the businesses that are prepared to face the storm and manage the volatility afflicting the continent, there are still huge rewards to be had from doing business in Africa, says SAP. Read More

American Tower Corporation, Bharti Airtel in Nigerian tower sale agreement

American Tower Corporation and Bharti Airtel Limited have entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of over 4,800 of Airtel’s communications towers in Nigeria.  Read More

Mobile backlog affects revenues

New research shows that a slow approach to app development is increasingly damaging revenue opportunities in the enterprise. The study found that organisations are currently struggling with a significant mobile backlog and unable to cope with business demands. Read More

Kenya courts technology to woo investors

Kenya, East Africa’s lead economic hub, has stepped up its efforts to woo investors through its rigorous incorporation and adaptation of technology to ease business transactions. Read More

‘Prepare for an explosive year ahead’ - Dac Systems

From a technology solution supply and reselling perspective, 2015 is going to be a bumper year, says Dac Systems. Read More

The Business Network is the future

Hyper-connected business networks will extend business processes that used to stop at the walls of the enterprise, and will fulfill the promise of the real-time global networked economy to reduce complexity without sacrificing sophisticated work, says SAP. Read More

Africa SME Champions Forum: creating an ecosystem to support African champions

Didier Acouetey, Gervais Koffi-Djondo, Felix Bikpo, Amadou Kane The Africa SME Champions Forum closed in Dakar last week, but its work in support of African champions is only just beginning.  Read More

Deloitte: Africa GDP to top $3.7 trillion by 2019

Africa’s gross domestic product will grow by 50% to $3.7 trillion over the next five years, says Deloitte. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

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

FEATURED STORY

GSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020GSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020

The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.

IN DEPTH

Africa lags on digital migration Africa 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.