Botswana - Country Commercial Guide
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Botswana has a reasonably developed telecommunications system that covers much of the country.  Slow, unreliable internet and high data costs are challenges for businesses and households. Botswana lacks direct access to submarine cables.  There have been modest improvements in the last five years as the Botswana Fiber Network (BoFiNet), the state-owned entity that provides wholesale national and international telecommunication infrastructure and services to the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) and private Internet Service Providers (ISP), expands its fiber to businesses and home connections.  To respond to the need for high speed and reliable internet, BoFiNet commenced the construction of the P100 million national data center (Digital Delta Data Centre, a Tier III Uptime Institute Certified Facility), SmartBots Village Connectivity, and local access and national backbone infrastructure expansion projects during Botswana’s 2021/22 financial year.  The organization has also embarked on establishing strategic partnerships to reduce terrestrial backhaul costs, increase resilience and improve network security. BoFiNet is also continuing to work on critical infrastructure development projects that will also support Botswana digital transformation efforts: this includes the expansion of backbone network coverage, the expansion of Fiber to the Business and Government (FTTx), the expansion of Fiber to the Home (FTTH), the expansion of public Wi-Fi ‘Carrier of Carriers’ infrastructure, and the deployment of the online television platform, UPICtv.  On September 20, 2023, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) signed an agreement for grant funding with BoFiNet to conduct a feasibility study for expansion of digital infrastructure throughout Botswana including the most rural areas. 

According to the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA)’s 2022 annual report, mobile broadband coverage increased as operators expanded 3G and 4G country wide, following the acquisition of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum and subsidy by Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF).  This resulted in an increase of 4G population coverage from 56 percent to 90 percent.  Internet average speeds of 21 Mbps were also attained during 2021/22 financial year, showing an improvement in internet speed which was attributable to upgrades of existing sites and erection of new ones.  The semi-privatized BTC provides landline services and competes with cellular consortiums Mascom Wireless (an affiliate of South Africa’s MTN) and Orange for cellular service.  Mascom has the highest market share of all mobile subscribers at 43 percent, followed by Orange at 39 percent and BTC at 18 percent.  Botswana’s cell phone penetration rate of 185 percent (many people have multiple numbers) is one of the highest cell phone penetration rates in Africa. 

During 2021/22 financial year, BoFiNet developed and started implementation of a digital transformation strategy, UNLEASH 2025, which will be a key enabler of socio-economic growth.  BoFiNet has put up 51 hotspots across the country in public areas such as malls, bus ranks, airports, borders, and hospitals providing the public with WiFi services, with a target of installing 1138 public hotspots at a minimum allocation of 100 Mbps per hotspot.  

Botswana does not restrict over the top (OTT) communication services like voice over internet protocol (VOIP).  BOCRA is the authority that issues licenses for telecom services including mobile telephones, data communications, payphones, sale of telecommunications equipment, internet services, radio communication services, courier, and postal services.  No restrictions apply to foreign partnerships in mobile services.  BOCRA also developed Type Approval Repair Services Providers’ Guidelines that will ensure satisfactory consumers after sales support.  The guidelines were implemented in April 2022.

A national E-Commerce strategy to promote the use of digital technology in Botswana’s commercial and public spheres was launched in October 2021 and subsequently an e-portal to operationalize the strategy has been developed and piloted. 

Sub-Sector Best Prospects 

Communications services, including internet service provision, e-Services (in line with Maitlamo National ICT Policy 2007 initiatives; e-government, e-health, e-education, and e-commerce), telecommunications equipment, and software are the best sub-sector prospects. 


BoFiNet’s intensified efforts to improve internet infrastructure and reduce data costs create an enabling environment for eCommerce.  According to a 2023 Botswana Economy Society Report, eCommerce with a share of 89.4 percent ($230 million) generated the highest digital revenues in Botswana in 2021.  However, eCommerce penetration in Botswana was below average compared to its counterparts in the region.  Botswana had the 87th highest internet penetration in the world in 2021.  In 2021, only 45.5 percent of the population used internet and there were 165.3 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people.  There is also increased demand in cloud-based security products as cyber security attacks and other internet fraudulent activities rise.