Botswana - Country Commercial Guide

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2021-10-10

Internet usage is on the rise.  According to the Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority 2020 annual report, Botswana saw a 30% increase in gigabytes used between 2019 and 2020.  The Global Information Technology Report for 2018, ranked Botswana 101 out of 139 in its Networked Readiness Index.  Despite these positive movements, eCommerce remains relatively immature compared to that of Botswana’s economic peers.  Most eCommerce interfaces are on social media platforms and require transactions to be concluded via phone or in person.  A small minority of companies have stand-alone websites.  The GoB has sought to lower the cost of internet usage by offering substantial discounts to internet providers to lease government-owned fiber-optic cables.  Mobile broadband service using cellular technology is available, and coverage is generally good, but it is slow.  DSL service through fixed lines and a relatively good national fiber backbone is somewhat reliable, but it is expensive relative to U.S. internet costs.  The country, however, recently slashed data costs by 46%, making data costs competitive in the region.  Mobile broadband prices were also reduced by 55% and sizes of data bundles increased by 200%.  Although the connection to the Seacom (Africa East Coast) has been completed and Botswana has access to the ACE (Africa West Coast) undersea cable, internet speeds continue to be slow.  The GoB has partially privatized the state-owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation.

Most Batswana access the internet using their mobile devices, mainly smartphones.  Those who use computers largely do so over copper telephone wire infrastructure which limits connections to 2 Mbps; however, connections can rise to over 1,000 Mbps.  BoFiNet, the state-owned enterprise that controls the country’s fiber optic network, is providing the infrastructure connection upgrades to diplomatic missions and businesses, covering about 5,953 of commercial and government premises and has started connecting fiber to homes in line with their Strategy 2020.  According to the organization’s 2020 annual report, they have covered 10,600 km and connected 206 out of 399 villages.  BoFiNet has adopted an UNLEASH 2025 strategy to drive the country’s digital transformation and implement initiatives that will foster the ICT ecosystem.

Point of sales for credit card transactions are numerous and widely available with reliable connections to processing centers.

 The GoB passed the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act in April 2014.  The law enables the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions, streamlining commercial and bureaucratic procedures.  The GoB earmarked $15 million for the law’s implementation in its 2014/2015 budget.  Subsequently, parliament enacted an Electronic (Evidence) Records Act in 2014.  The National Cyber Security Strategy was approved in October 2020 and the GoB also set up a Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT), which is responsible for responding to Cyber-Security breaches and viruses.