BITC invites ICT investors
By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) is casting its net wide to appeal to players in the Information Technology sector to invest in the country.
Botswana has entered into multi-trade agreements with countries or areas around the world through which certain products under given conditions enjoy some customs duty and quota concessions when exported there.
As a way of accelerating this effort, the BITC held a couple of meetings with international delegations as a way of luring ICT business people and organisations into the country. First to visit was a delegation of Singapore ICT companies which was on a fact finding mission in Botswana from May 26 to 28, 2014. This was followed up by a Kenyan delegation in Botswana on the 22nd June 2014. The delegation represents the following sectors: Agriculture, Education, Financial Services, ICT, Mining, Tourism and Hospitality,and Transport and Logistics.
According to previous ICT Statistics Report, the ICT industry is growing; particularly in mobile cellular services, which outpaces the development of fixed telephone lines and internet service provision. The number of mobile subscribers has increased from 106,029 in 2000 to 2,900,263 in 2011; a 2,635% growth. Mobidensity (the number of mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants) has increased by over 1000% percent from 13 subscriptions in 2000 to 143 subscriptions in 2011.
The ICT sector in Botswana also includes postal services, print media and radio and television.
The BITC says in its message to would be investors, “In 2010, an in-depth study of the ICT sector was undertaken by the Swedish Trade Council, determining that Botswana has invested heavily in the national fibre network, and has invested in international connectivity. Botswana has invested in the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), greatly expanding connectivity capacity to the region. The Botswana Government is also pursuing access to a West African submarine cable. The expectation in the next 2-3 years is expanded, rapid, reliable and cost effective connectivity.”
The BITC has capitalised on the Botswana Innovation Hub’s interventions in the sector to sell its stance on investing in ICT in the country. “The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is developing a 'cyber city,' a central hub to connect ICT enterprise and Research and Development (R&D) institutes with Botswana's public and private sectors,” says the BITC on its website.
Acording to the organisation, other opportunities awaiting IT investors in the country arel; “ICT investment in Botswana presents an opportunity for growth in R&D and global competitiveness in ICT, An objective of National ICT Policy is to utilise ICT to facilitate economic diversification and foreign direct investment (FDI), Infrastructure development: widespread fibre-optic network and e-government services, communications and security, e-health, e-education, e-tourism, including mobile access to e-government.”
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) is an organisation established by an act of Parliament, to become an integrated Investment and Trade Promotion Authority (ITPA) with an encompassing mandate of investment promotion and attraction, export promotion, and development, including management of the Nation Brand.
Through its critical role within Botswana’s economy, BITC further encourages domestic investment and expansion, promotes locally manufactured goods to regional and international markets, contributes towards improvement of the investment climate through policy advocacy, increases citizen participation in the economy and creates sustainable job opportunities.