Saturday, July 4, 2020

Many Batswana still cannot “log-in”, thanks to the internet costs

For the large number of Africa’s population estimated to lack internet access, the biggest barrier is cost, according to a new report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet – and only a few across the continent pay more than Batswana.

As it stands, basic broadband connection in Botswana remains incredibly expensive and is ranked among the highest on the African continent.

In 2015, A4AI first announced its “1 for 2” affordability threshold which requires for 1GB of mobile prepaid data to cost no more than 2 percent of average monthly income. During that year’s report it was stated that a Gigabyte of data in Botswana costs “5.11%” of income whilst Egypt has the lowest cost for 1GB on the continent at 0.47% of income.

Four years later the country continue to register good progress in terms of access but still trails behind the usual suspects, namely South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles and Cape Verde.

The top performing countries have provided extraordinary socioeconomic opportunities to business and individuals.

For many researchers and policy-makers with global development goals, this lack of access is problematic. The 2019 edition of the Affordability Report has therefore called on policy makers and regulators to promote competitive and diverse broadband markets as key ingredients to drive down the cost of internet access.

In Botswana, the government through the National Broadband Strategy, spearheaded by Botswana Fibre Networks (BOFINET) have undertaken projects to improve the country`s connectivity.

State owned wholesale internet provider – BoFinet has been tasked with facilitating the growth of the ICT environment and, optimise the utilisation of the national telecommunication fibre infrastructure.

BOFINET projects such as FTTH and FTTx, which are ongoing, are expected to enable Batswana to have access to the internet at the comfort of their homes and offices in 2020 and beyond.

BOFINET Public relations manager Lesego Goitsemang says FTTh deployment, brings fast, reliable and affordable internet, businesses have the potential to grow as the internet service they provide becomes more reliable efficient and affordable to the users. For Customers they will experience superb internet services that are uninterrupted allow them to connect and engage better with the world.

Meanwhile the Alliance for Affordable Internet has warned that without urgent action to accelerate progress, the global community would not achieve its goal of affordable, universal internet access until 2042 — over 20 years past the target date of 2020.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.