News & Events

Our blog is where you'll find all our project updates,highlights and achievements, as well as other news and events related to Botswana Speaks Parliamentary Initiative.

Rwanda mobile penetration tops 57%

According to the original article published online in BIZTECH Africa, Rwanda now has over 6 million mobile subscribers, for a penetration of 57%, according to the latest statistics from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).

In the latest statistics, for the first quarter of the year, RURA says Rwanda has a total of 6,039,615 mobile subscribers. MTN Rwandacell has the lion’s share, with 3,452,182; followed by Tigo with 1,806,271 and Airtel with 781,162. RURA also noted that 54.6% of subscribers had registered their SIM cards to date. The national SIM registration exercise kicked off in February this year.

Original source

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Better ICT laws to protect users in Tanzania

Charlie Fripp, Consumer Tech editor at, writes an article on the fact that, as technology allows more users to conduct business and transact online, Tanzania has recognized the need to formulate better ICT laws to protect users against with the growth of cybercrime and other computer-related offences.

“We are in the consultation process with various experts and we hope by the end of the year we will be through, and forward the matter to relevant processes and eventually we will have laws in place,” said Director of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Dr Zaipuna Yonah.

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Mobile Phones and Expanding Human Capabilities

This article argues that mobile phones constitute the basis for one of the greatest expansions of human capabilities in known history.  Amartya Sen’s capability approach (1999) is applied, which highlights expansions of freedoms in areas such as social and governance networks that encourage us to look beyond economic measures of development. The paper reflects on some policy issues and implications and the uses of mobile communication in increasing non-economic capabilities and freedoms.
Read more…

Originally published by Matthew L Smith, Randy Spence and Ahmed T. Rashid (ABI The  African Business Review)

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NDB acquires two mobile branches

According to the Daily News, the National Development Bank (NDB) has recently acquired two mobile branches, NDB chief executive officer, Ms Lorato Morapedi, has said.
The acquisition, Ms Morapedi said, was meant to increase the bank’s four branches at Gaborone, Palapye, Francistown and Maun.
She also added that this was part of the several strategies that NDB had in place to take its services to the people and improve customer service.

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Botswana expects cheaper internet rates and faster services

John Churu writes in an interesting article about the developments in internet services in Botswana.

When an undersea fibre optic cable, in which Botswana has invested USD37.5 million (P281 million), goes live in the first half of May 2013, internet users in Botswana are expected to reap the proceeds of improved internet services, in the form of cheaper rates and a faster service.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) which carries data and telephony services links Europe to 15 landing stations along the west coast of Africa, including South Africa. Since Botswana has no direct link to the sea, government partnered with Namibia to each raise USD37.5 million (P277.5 million at current rates) to "buy into" the project with other countries.

The two countries own 9.2% of the project, which will be operated on an open access policy with other stakeholders. Due to be launched in Swartkopmund, Namibia in mid-May, WACS will become the latest submarine cable system Botswana since the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

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The African mobile phone market: Beyond the boom

The growth of African mobile markets over the past decade has been dramatic and well documented. Zibi provides an overview of the performance of the mobile industry in Africa, offers some insights into the wider impact of the sector and provides the outlook for the industry in the face of deep economic, regulatory and technological change.

 By all accounts the growth of the African mobile industry over the past decade has been remarkable. At the end of 2008, the total number of mobile subscriptions in Africa reached about 375 million, up from 280 million in 2007 (AfricaNext, 2009). The overall subscription base is nearly three times larger than it was in 2005 and has grown by a compound annual average rate around 40% over the 2005-2008 period. Where the pattern of growth was often confined to a small sample of countries, it is now widespread; in 2008, and two thirds of African markets have a mobile penetration higher than 30% (AfricaNext, 2009). A few African markets have broken the once mythical 100% mobile penetration threshold, and projections of similarly high penetration levels across the board are no longer quite outlandish.

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Building Software Solutions For ICT Challenges In Africa

Innovation has become the cornerstone to how business and transactions converge on a global scale. The world has shifted in two directions;
- Social Media – Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn are typical examples of how engrossed and connected our lives are over the virtual world of cyber space.
- Mobile market – with almost 50 million mobile phones in South Africa, and according to the UN on 12th October, 2012 – there was 6 billion cell phone subscriptions globally.
The web’s expansive reach accentuates economies of scale that continue to revolutionize the way brands engage customers, driving revenue. This very configuration that constructs the web so attractive to legitimate business attracts extremely technically minded technology abusers making it lucrative for brands to be hijacked and portrayed as powerful brands online.

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UN MDGs: how mobile phone access promotes gender equality in education

Goal three of the UN's MDGs is to promote gender equality and empower women, including in education. A UN fact sheet from 2010 reveals that gender inequality in education access persists, and while some progress has been made in boosting girls' enrolment at the primary and secondary levels, a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, western Asia and Oceania are in danger of missing the 2015 deadline for gender equality.

The same three regions have experienced phenomenal levels of growth in mobile phone access since 2000. While women's and girls' access to mobile phones generally lags when compared to men, gains are being made as costs of ownership fall. But where do gender parity in education and access to mobile phones intersect?

In many of the places where gender parity in education is most unequal, school systems are plagued by a lack of trained (female) teachers, a scarcity of up-to-date educational materials (especially in mother-tongue languages), and demands placed on the time during the day women and girls are expected to contribute to helping run households and/or businesses for their families. Although mobile phones may not be able to resolve all of these challenges, they could provide assistance.

Mobile phones are increasingly affordable for women and girls in developing countries, offer additional freedom in deciding when and where to use them for learning, and can provide on-demand access to voice- and text-based instructional materials. These characteristics of mobiles, when leveraged appropriately, can help increase gender equality in education by offering training opportunities to prepare additional (female) teachers to enter classrooms, facilitate free access to resources such as Wikipedia for women and girls, as well as enable a degree of flexibility for the time and places that learning can occur.

Yet with all the hype surrounding mobiles for development (M4D), mobile-based learning opportunities devised with women and girls as the intended beneficiaries are surprisingly rare. One reason for this could be that central to an intervention's perceived success is the length of time it takes to register positive outcomes. I believe that this is one of the main factors that stymie the potential of the emerging field of gender, learning and mobiles, especially when operating within an aid context where donors expect large-scale benefits – within months instead of years – with the lowest possible upfront costs to yield these benefits.

Read the full original article

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Consumers want more from mobile – MTN Group

The question ICT providers and regulators alike have to ask themselves is whether they have created a climate conducive to meeting the demands and expectations of the mobile consumers of the future, Themba Khumalo, MTN Group Operations Executive, said yesterday.

Khumalo was speaking at the 11th Innovation Africa Digital Summit (IAD), which was officially opened by the Ethiopian Minister of Industry, Mekonnen Manyzewal.
Taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Khumalo’s address focused on market opportunities and challenges facing mobile network operators in the 21st century. Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with a strong focus on developing a major and sustainable ICT industry.
Under the theme ‘National Broadband Agendas – Acceleration and Alignment’, the IAD Summit is a unique gathering of more than 300 high-level decision-makers in the ICT industry across government, the regulatory environment and business.
Khumalo said it is the responsibility of mobile operators to enable consumers to be part of an exciting bold new digital world, where ICT solutions exceed users’ expectations.

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Mobile boom in Africa

IT News Africa features an interesting article written by Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager, LGR Telecommunications stating that Africa is an increasingly mobile continent, making smart mobile application development one of the continent’s next big industries.

The mobile application space is set to boom across Africa, as enterprises and developers lead the world in bringing to market unique mobile applications suited to a developing market.

There are several reasons for this – crucially, Africa is a mobile continent. Mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster and more affordable; smartphone adoption is growing by around 15% year on year across the continent, and mobile bandwidth has become better and more affordable. In addition, mobile applications are particularly relevant in a South African and pan-African context, where a young, increasingly tech-savvy and often geographically dispersed population is fast seeing the advantages of self-service and mobile business.

Advanced, user-friendly mobile apps will be the next customer service excellence differentiator. To maintain a competitive advantage, enterprises will increasingly roll out mobile consumer apps to maintain their competitive lead, and to deliver services. We foresee that many operators will see this as a new way of doing business.

To be effective, mobile apps need to begin with meeting customer needs, and they must be simple and easy to use. They also need to address enterprise pain points – for example, the most common contact centre queries can be migrated to a self-service smartphone app, so improving customer experience and easing the contact centre workload.

They also need to deliver concise, personalised and easy to navigate information to the end-user, supplying all the relevant information at a glance, with the ability to drill down, slice or dice if needed. In the enterprise application space, we see that once mobile workers have access to effective ERP mobile apps, they seldom revert to their laptops to access ERP systems.

Achieving this requires a great deal of preparatory work, to identify what end users need, what the business goals are for the app, and what the current enterprise pain points are, which could be addressed with a customised mobile app.


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Africa’s capacity for cloud services increasing

On March 12th, 2013, IT News Africa published an interesting article about the cloud services in Africa.Pamoja, the cloud services business unit of Pan-African ICT enabler SEACOM, has officially launched its business model and go-to-market strategy in Johannesburg, with management offering a detailed explanation of how SMEs and partners form part of the plan to build a cloud services market for the continent. The company, established in 2011 by SEACOM’s founder Brian Herlihy and Stafford Masie, former GM of Google SA, is a provider of wholesale Cloud computing services via telecommunication companies, ISPs and other service providers in Southern and East Africa.

These institutions have also recognised the Cloud as a source of new revenues, with global investments in cloud services projected to more than double from an estimated US$55 billion in 2011 to almost US$130 billion annually by 2015.

Pamoja’s intention is to establish partnerships in order to leverage off Africa’s rapidly growing mobile market and the surge in connectivity services.

Albie Bester, General Manager of Pamoja, said, “Aside from funding and infrastructure, we also have access to Seacom’s relationships with organisation. Pamoja exists because of what is happening in the cloud … according to Forbes top ten strategic issues, number six is upgrading the cloud strategy. At the end of the day, the cloud is not a technology matter to an organisation, it is about empowerment. In Africa, it is about business agility and for businesses to become more competitive.”

Steven Ambrose, CEO of Strategy Worx, said connectivity is critical to the growth of mobile and the realisation of the Internet in Africa.

“Researchers say 50 billion devices are going to be connected to the Internet by 2020… the number is so large. There are seven billion people in the world and there are approximately five billion with mobile phones, so connections are key and will change the world. We are living in a time when new thinking has to come into play. In 2008 a total of 80Gbps was available to the continent… it now stands at 35460 Gbps. There has been a huge shift in sheer capacity to Africa,” said Ambrose.

“We are also seeing a massive explosion in terrestrial connectivity. The fact is that you cannot do what people are doing on mobile unless you have terrestrial connections and connections to the Internet … without that nothing much would be happening in Africa,” he added.

Read here the full article

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Building a tech-focused continent: 9 of Africa’s innovation hubs

Innovation, mobile, tech and startups. These are Africa’s buzzwords. A continent that arrived late to the web revolution, Africa is catching up fast and leading the way in some aspects.

The continent is working overtime to build and create products, services and businesses that can rival that of the developed world. It is no longer the dark continent. According to a Daily Beast report, Africa is being heralded as the “new Asia” and the “home of the next Google”.

“Compared to dismal rates in the rest of the world, Africa’s growth is exceptional,” Gustavo Galindo, a portfolio manager with Russell Investments is quoted in the Daily Beast as saying. “It surprises me many US investors don’t realize the opportunities this creates, with some African stocks gaining 15% to 20% returns.”
That surprise is echoed in Africa, where young entrepreneurs are building products that not only solve African problems but can scale as well. In spite of lack of investor interest, the continent thrives and that is to a great degree thanks to tech hubs and co-creation spaces popping up with the aim of fostering innovation and technological growth.
Here are nine innovation hubs and co-creation spaces that are doing their bit to champion the African tech boom.

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JoziHub: a Tech Hub expected to "Build African Entrepreneurs"

A new South African innovation and technology incubator, JoziHub, is expected to grow technological development and entrepreneurship, it was announced at the launch of the project in Johannesburg last week.

It is the city's first technology incubator and was founded by mobile health technology firm Praekelt Foundation.

"Technology hubs can play a pivotal role in fostering the emergence of a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs," founder of the Praekelt Foundation, Gustav Praekelt, said in a statement.

"By providing the training, support, facilities and networks required to enable entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses, incubators such as JoziHub can make an immediate and lasting impact on local innovation and development."

Focus will be given to addressing the country's most pressing social challenges through the development of internet, social media and mobile technology.

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How Mobile Phone Penetration is Driving Internet usage in Africa

A research commissioned by mobile advertising network, Twinpine has given fresh insight into the unprecedented growth of the African mobile market, revealing that mobile penetration is driving internet usage across West Africa and playing a fundamental r ole in fuelling economic growth. The study – An analysis of Mobile Technology in West Africa: The Case Of Nigeria, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire was carried out in conjunction with Kenya-based iHub Research   and analysed mobile usage across Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

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