Botswana teledensity tops 153%

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

With a population of just two million people, the Southern African country of Botswana has seen its cellphone subscriber base rise to 3.08 million at the end of last year, nearly double the number recorded 4 years ago.

According to recent figures from the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, mobile teledensity in 2012 was nearly 153%.  As of March 2012, mobile teledensity was measured at 144%, being amongst the highest in Africa and the developing world at large.

BOCRA says the number of cellphone subscriptions opened 2012 at 2.92 million, surpassing the three million mark in October, before ending the year at 3.08 million. This data, however, says that annual growth in mobile subscriptions nosedived in the same year, when compared to the rate in the years after 2008.

“Cellphone subscriptions grew at compound annual growth rate of 12.4 percent between 2008 and 2011, a rate that slows to 11 when data from 2012 is included. While the data does not provide reasons for the slowdown in 2012, Botswana Stock Exchange-listed retail counters have all pointed to difficult consumer spending activity in 2012 due to the slow recovering economy as well as the absence of a public service wage increase. Previous estimates indicate that Mascom generally accounts for just over half of all mobile subscribers, with Orange's market share ranging between 33 and 35 percent and beMobile taking the balance,” the source noted.

Before the entry of beMobile in 2008, the same BOCRA data shows the mobile telephone market was generally split 60/40 in favour of Mascom. The same source also shows growth in fixed lines, as provided by the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, from about 144,000 in 2008 to 160,500 last year.

On the issue of internet usage in the country, BOCRA statistics show that from around 6,000 broadband subscribers in 2008, subscriptions grew to 18,838 last year. This figure however “only refers to data card subscriptions, popularly known as dongles, and does not include access to internet via cellphones, as is common through services such as the Blackberry Internet Service,” explained the BOCRA Stats.

Reliable figures indicate that by last March, the country had 259,486 mobile Internet subscribers, rising to 339,926 by September.


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