Alongside Senegal, Botswana is one of the two African countries that will benefit from Orange’s rollout of its fourth-generation technology (or 4G as it is commonly known) across the world. This is from a report by Zacks Investment Research, an American company based in New York. However, a local IT expert, Sega Matale, says that such rollout will only happen after the Botswana Fibre Networks Ltd (BoFiNet) puts the necessary infrastructure in place.
“As things currently stand in terms of Botswana’s telecoms infrastructure, we are far from being ready for 4G implementation,” Matale says, adding the lament that despite this reality, unwitting consumers continue to buy 4G-compliant gadgets when local network operators don’t have the infrastructure to support use of such advanced technology.
The introduction of Orange’s 4G technology in Botswana would solve such problem.
One of the world’s largest telecommunications carriers, Orange is driving substantial growth across Africa and the Middle East, which contribute nearly one-third of its total customer base. According to Zacks, the company is now in the second phase of its five-year action plan called Adapt and Conquer. This phase will make solid improvements in Europe as well as in Africa and the Middle East.
The company generated an operating cash flow of 7.02 billion, more than its targeted 7 billion in 2013. In Africa and the Middle East, revenues grew 4.7 percent driven by profits in C├┤te d Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. As of Dec 31, 2013, Orange had 236.3 million total subscribers across its operating territories, reflecting a 2.4 percent year-over-year increase. The mobile customer base (excluding mobile virtual network operators) climbed 3.5 percent year over year to 178.5 million.
Through the Conquer plan, the company intends to increase its customer base to 300 million by 2015.
According to Matale, the benefits of the upgrade from 3G to 4G would be faster data speeds for uploads and downloads, a bigger bandwidth and better network coverage geographically.
“Consumers will be spoiled for choice on offerings such as High Definition mobile TV, Voice over Internet Protocol, improved mobile web access with less buffers, cloud computing as well as optimising of smart TVs with features such as improved domestic 3D viewing, high quality mobile gaming using smart phones, and video conferencing,” he says.
Orange has reached an agreement with leading automaker Renault for a research project to test the automotive uses of 4G connectivity for a motorist’s safe access to virtual office, video conferencing and cloud gaming.
The Conquest plan is expected to boost the company’s growth prospects in both domestic and international markets. The plan focuses on enhancing Orange’s next-generation broadband access network, increasing international presence as well as expanding its global customer base by 50 percent.
According to Zacks, Orange is progressing well on its Conquer plan.
“Stronger domestic footprint and expansion into emerging markets are also fuelling the company’s growth story. Over the long term, we believe expansion of 4G will create a significant tailwind for the company,” Zacks’ analysis says.
Part of the plan is expected to register revenue growth on the back of steady demand for the cloud computing business in emerging markets like Botswana.
Orange serves 236 million customers in 33 countries. As of Dec 31, 2013, it had 178.5 million mobile customers and 15.5 million broadband Internet (ADSL, fibre) customers worldwide.
Established in 2012, BOFiNET is mandated “to provide and operate a world class telecommunications backbone network infrastructure which will drive connectivity and economic growth.” Part of the latter includes acquiring a stake in the EASSy and WACS submarine cables which will make it possible to use 4G technology in Botswana. BOFiNET’s main clients are retail organisations like Orange Botswana.