Botswana Power Corproration – BPC, sole provider of electricity in Botswana recently announced it has partnered with Pan-African telecoms company, Liquid Telecom to form a new telecommunications network provider in Botswana. The agreement was signed by the outgoing BPC CEO Mr. Jacob Raleru, and Liquid Telecom Group CEO, Mr. Nic Rudnick at a ceremony held in Gaborone on 18 October 2016.The new company will operate under the name Liquid Telecom Botswana.
Over the years, BPC has built an extensive optical fibre cable network that extends to virtually every corner of Botswana, with a particular focus on settlements. BPC owns and operates an optical fibre cable network that is embedded in some of its high voltage transmission lines. As part of the new venture, for the first time, the fibre network will be commercialised to provide network services across the country.
The partnership will allow BPC to make optimal use of these assets while providing Liquid Telecom with resources to serve the network needs of its wholesale and retail clients in the region. Under the agreement, BPC will lease out any excess fibre optic cables. Additionally, Liquid Telecom will tap into BPC’s infrastructure, creating a new telecoms network provider with extensive reach across Botswana. Liquid Telecom was selected following a competitive bidding process in which five local and international telecommunications companies submitted bids.
A statement from BPC and Liquid Telecom says the arrangement allows BPC to diversify its revenue base, while maintaining focus on its own core mandate of providing secure and reliable electricity services to the national economy. While this new venture is BPC’s first foray into the telecommunications sector, the partnership will see Liquid Telecom expanding its presence across Africa. Liquid Telecom, which already has a presence in the DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, Zimbabwe and the UK, will be the majority shareholder.
Liquid Telecom rebranded in 2004 and went on to launch the high-speed, cross-border fibre network linking Southern Africa to the rest of the world. The company has since grown to provide services to more than 50 global wholesale carriers operating in eastern, central and southern Africa, Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, as well as the national and international enterprise market.
Frustrated internet users in Botswana will welcome industry experts’ speculation that Liquid Telecom joining Botswana’s telecommunications market will open up the competition, which might subsequently lower inflated internet access prices, especially at a time when consumers are complaining of expensive yet extremely slow data services.
To be honest, when I heard the news I just didn’t know how to take it. I couldn’t shake the idea of a power corporation offering telecommunication services on the side, especially one that has for many years grappled with various problems in its provision of power. Not only that, BPC’s efforts to resolve the problems that besiege it don’t seem to be working, as load shedding continues to be a problem in 2016 Botswana. BPC is also not known for its ability to effectively communicate with its customers regarding the persistent load shedding situation that refuses to go away.
But over time, I’ve slowly started warming up to the idea of having another company to rival existent internet providers, the majority of whom aren’t doing a good job at all. I’m hoping the arrival of a new kid on block will shake things up and force existent providers into improving their offer in order to remain in the market.
I have always attributed the fact that providers aren’t bothered by their shoddy service to complacency. I feel because there’s often not much competition if at all, providers know customers have nowhere else to turn, and as such have no reason to up their standards. I can only hope that BPC wanting a slice of the ‘telecoms pie’ will go some way in improving the service we receive. I also hope that BPC doesn’t get swept up in the excitement of the new project, subsequently taking their eye off their principal responsibility of providing the people of Botswana with electricity. It wouldn’t be a concern if there were alternative electricity providers, but BPC is the only electricity provider.
Reference & image credit: https://www.liquidtelecom.com/news-events