Consumer watchdog

‘Steal ideas’ There’s nothing wrong with stealing, it just depends what you’re stealing. I don’t mean you can steal someone’s property, either physical or intellectual, that’ll just get you into trouble with the law. But there’s nothing wrong with you borrowing ideas and seeking inspiration from other people and places.

In New York one of the largest cellphone network providers, AT&T, is installing solar powered charging stations for cellphones and tablet computers throughout the city. If you’re passing through New York and your cellphone runs low on power you connect it at one of these stations and, entirely for free, you can top up on power.

These charging stations use solar powered batteries so they work during daytime but also store excess charge in battery packs which means they can still charge you up during the middle of the night. The state of solar technology is so good these days that they only actually need a couple of hours of sunshine per day to operate.

So why don’t we, a country with staggering amounts of sunshine, have such things outside every cellphone store? Why aren’t Mascom, Orange and BeMobile offering us free charge-ups right now? Why aren’t supermarkets keen to boost their profile offering the same service to their customers?

Maybe they should steal the idea from AT&T?

Many years ago I was in Cyprus during a construction boom. Almost everyone was building a house and one of the reasons was that the Cypriot government was offering grants to people to install solar panels on their houses. They have the same levels of sunshine as us and it was a remarkable opportunity to reduce their dependence on locally generated and imported power.


Does this sound familiar?

Surely this is the time for Government or perhaps even BPC to reduce the power we demand from them and to save money as well? Doesn’t it seem negligent not to be using the most abundant source of energy we have? Energy that is available entirely for free?

I know the cost of installing solar panels isn’t insignificant but what are we wasting at the moment on non-sustainable energy? Even if the Government only made is slightly cheaper there’d be an advantage for us all to invest in something that would quite quickly save us a lot of money.


Maybe we should steal the

 idea from the Cypriots?

We could fractionally improve our national productivity if we stole an idea from the UK. Instead of having public holidays on any day of the week, sometimes in the middle of the week, often completely disrupting our working lives and ruining the momentum that good organisations develop during the working week, why don’t we do what the Brits do? Have the holiday on the nearest Monday instead. That way we all get a long weekend, the working week is shorter (which we’d all like), travelling becomes a bit less chaotic and the economy might even be a little stronger.

Maybe we should steal the idea from the Brits?

Of all the ideas we should steal it’s the approach to financial literacy education many other countries have chosen. Despite the efforts of some banks and financial institutions and media outlets such as Mmegi, our public is not yet fully equipped to protect itself against the latest scams and schemes designed to steal our money.

For instance I bet very few Mmegi readers had even heard of the “SIM swapping” scam that has already hit our streets until we mentioned it recently in this newspaper. A few weeks ago a reader told us that while she was out of the country someone went to her cellphone provider with a letter on her company’s letterhead reporting that she’d lost her cellphone. The letter said she urgently needed a replacement SIM card and her driver was authorised to collect the SIM card on her behalf. Without hesitation the fake driver was given the replacement SIM card he wanted.

He then took that SIM card, plugged it into a cellphone and dialed up her bank’s cellphone banking service. Because she hadn’t yet set up cellphone banking the imposter was then taken through the process of setting it up for the first time, including setting up a password that then gave him complete access to her accounts. Within moments he’d transferred P30,000 from account and started withdrawing the money.

Luckily she returned to Botswana shortly after this happened and noticed immediately that her cellphone wasn’t working (because her original SIM card had been disabled when the new SIM card was produced). She immediately called her network provider but they couldn’t understand what had happened. Hadn’t she asked for a replacement SIM card just a few days ago, they asked? They then gave her yet another SIM card, disabling the one the crook had acquired. She was very lucky to have stopped the criminal before he took everything. Fortunately she only lost P7,000.

This was SIM-swapping and we all need to know a lot more about this. All it takes to empty your bank account is a bit of bravery from the crook and a fake letterhead. So why aren’t the banks doing more to educate us about this? Why aren’t they alerting us the way banks in other countries do? Why are they waiting?

Maybe we should steal the approach to financial literacy education adopted by other countries?

I don’t want Botswana to change so much that it becomes another country. Like most of us I value our national character and our approach to doing things but that doesn’t mean we can’t modify the way we do things just a bit. It certainly doesn’t mean that there are things done in other countries that we can’t adopt to help us become a little bit more attractive to investors, visitors and the most important people of all. Us.

If you have any consumer issues please get in touch.  Email us at [email protected], by post to P. Box 403026, Gaborone or by phone on 3904582 or fax on 3911763.  Read the Consumer Watchdog blog at and join our Facebook group called “Consumer Watchdog Botswana”.

Editor's Comment
A Call For Government To Save Jobs

The minister further shared that from the 320 businesses that notified the Commissioner of Labour about their plans to retrench, 20 were acceded to, which resulted in 204 workers being retrenched during April 2020 and July 2021.The retrenchments were carried out while the SoE was in place, meaning the companies that succeeded must have had solid reasons, despite the strict SOE regulations imposed on businesses to not retrench. We are left with...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up