New wholesale telecommunications provider hits the market
by Kabelo Seitshiro
The newly formed parastatal Botswana Fibre Network Ltd (BoFiNet) is taking shape to provide and operate backbone network infrastructure expected to drive connectivity and economic growth.
In the driver’s seat is the interim Chief Executive Officer, Keabetswe Segole, who will be reporting to a Board of Directors appointed by the Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefhi.
Addressing members of the media on Wednesday, the interim CEO pointed out that BoFiNet is expected to distribute services to retail telecommunication companies already in existence in Botswana but will not sell directly to end users.
He added that it is expected to improve competitiveness and confidence in the downstream telecommunications market, customers in whose interest BoFiNet acts.
“The wholesale layer in Botswana is generally poorly serviced and the existing fibre infrastructure is underutilized, failing to maximize the investment government has made in the network,” said Segole.
He pointed out that with the move of the new company, BoFiNet will also manage development of national fibre network, in particular in the trans-Kalahari region and metro fibre networks in Gaborone and Francistown. He said acquisition of stakes in the East Africa Sea System (EASSY) and (West Africa Cable System) WACS submarine cables are under BoFiNet.
Segole said that a Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) system, which is designed to use its full potential.
The national fibre will also be managed by BoFiNet.
“The company has the capabilities to supply other regional countries including South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe,” said Segole.
He was also optimistic that they will continue to efficiently service the telecommunications industry in Botswana, such as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Mascom, and Orange and also serve the international telecoms operator market.
“BofiNet will make domestic dark fibre available via lease to very high capacity operators, including international operators wishing to transit Botswana and who wish to deploy their own active equipment,” he stated.
On the issue of recruitment of the company staff, Segole said that before end of May this year the executive structure is expected to be in place while awaiting the license from Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), adding that office space is expected to be finalized in a couple of months.
“We are ready to contribute to the Gross Domestic Products of the country as well as drive the economy of Botswana,” said Segole.
He pointed out that BoFiNet was established in 2012, following government separation of the incumbent operator, BTC, into two separate organizations, which are BoFiNet and BTC Ltd and which will be partially privatized once the separation is complete. He noted that BoFiNet was established as a commercial and self sustaining business and has a completely independent strategy as well as structures separate from BTC.
“We ensure satisfaction of end user demand for traffic, which is expected to grow significantly due to increased internet take up and access technologies,” said Segole.
Ratsela Mooketsi is the new board chairman.
Other members of the board are Malebogo Mpugwa, Dr Pauline Sebina, Marvin Torto, Letsebe Sejoe, Ditirwa Mphoeng, and acting CEO Keabetswe Segole.