Cell phones are a must have for many people.
We use them to play games, browse the net, call, and, recently, some banks have started to offer cellphone banking where clients can make transactions over the phone, just one of the many advantages of technology.
Though this form of communication is relatively new in Botswana, with the first service provider having started to operate in 1998, to date the number has moved up to three service providers: Mascom, Orange and beMOBILE.
Though our population is relatively small, these companies continue to record profits.
Tariq Islam, an employee at Cell City, at Game City, says his shop is always busy with people coming for new handsets or to repair broken ones.
There is also a significant increase in the number of cellphone accessories and repair shops.
“Due to popular demand, we recently opened another branch in Molepolole, bringing to ten our number of outlets nationwide,” he said.
Though this is just another of the many wonders of technology, to many, cellular phones are more than just a communication gadget.
“I can’t imagine a day without my cellphone; it could be such a disaster because when I get bored, I chat with friends via SMS or play games.
Sometimes, I just browse through old messages in my inbox and sometimes when I don’t have airtime I just send a “please call back” message, ” says Dineo Motshegwe, a 33-year-old street vendor who would not reveal her monthly income but says she spends around 100 pula per month on airtime and keeps her phone under the pillow at night when she goes to sleep.
Poppie Ndaha, a headmaster at Raditladi Primary school in Mochudi, says though she hasn’t heard any incidents, the tendency was rife at Tsogang Primary in Gaborone where she used to teach.
“We used to get cases whereby kids, mostly Standard Seven pupils, would call a teachers phone whilst the latter is teaching and just before the teacher answers they would hang up, only to find it was kids within the classroom who would take teachers’ numbers under the pretext that they would be calling to seek help on homeworks.
In Botswana, it is illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone unless when using a hands-free set.
Cellphones are also not allowed in courtrooms with notices pasted all over the walls advising people to switch off or have their phones on silent yet people still get their phones confiscated for not abiding.
Wacera Machaira, a Councelling Psychologist says cell phones have become more of an image or identity status and it’s not unusual to find one owning a phone that is worth more than their monthly income.
She, however, warns on the over reliance on anything because it can be addictive.
“It can be tricky because it’s not a medical ailment but a person can get addicted to anything but would not themselves realize it.