Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) will have to part with US$75 million (P504 million) to secure reliable bandwidth connection from an undersea fibre optic cable through the West African Cable System (WACS).
BTC Group CEO Thapelo Lippe said Tuesday that his company and Telcom Namibia will both contribute equally as second tiers while regional giants like Vodacom, MTN, Neotel and Zain will contribute US$100 million (approximately P672 million) each for the development of the undersea cable that will link London with Africa.
Lippe said BTC sits on the board of the US$210 million Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) to further increase Botswana's bandwidth capacity.
EASSy is 90 percent African-owned, although that ownership is underwritten by a substantial investment by Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), among them the World Bank/IFC, EIB, AfDB, AFD and DfW. There are 26 telecommunication operators in total invested in EASSy.
Through a private operator, another undersea cable provider, SEACOM, last month launched in Botswana. SEACOM is a privately funded venture with Kenya's Industrial Promotion Services having a 26.25 percent stake, Venfin Limited 25 percent, South Africa's Shanduka Group 12.5 percent and Convergence Partners with
When the sea cable reaches Botswana, Internet speed connectivity will increase considerably while tariffs will drop significantly.
Lippe acknowledged the complaint of local businesses about the cost of bandwidth."I agree we are expensive," he said, "but one has to understand that the cost of getting Internet to Botswana is very expensive because we are landlocked and our tele-density is very low."
He however said BTC recently found better rates from a optic fibre provider and has already slashed prices by 40 percent and that local ISP's will soon extend the lower prices to consumers.
During the launch of SEACOM, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said the government plans to exclude BTC's countrywide spread backhaul from the privatisation process. She said one option is to create an entity that will be responsible for the backhaul to service all the operators in the telecommunications sector, including BTC after it has been privatised.