Mascom Wireless, the mobile telephone network, is aiming to increase its sites by 120 percent in a bid to remain as a dominant player in the telecommunication industry in the country.
In his swan-song speech as the Chief Executive Officer of Mascom, Jose Ferreira said the company has spent to the tune of P 100 million in an attempt to bridge the digital gap and remain a dominant player in the local market.
Mascom is aiming to control nearly 80 percent of the mobile phone subscriber base, out of the estimated 823, 000 ÔÇô largely skewed towards pre-paid product. The move will represent an increase of 20 percent.
“We would like to achieve our target market of 600, 000 subscribers before the end of this year,” he said, at the end of his contract, as he prepares to join a new mobile telephone player in Namibia.
Botswana is one of the African countries which have the highest mobile telephone penetration, thanks to low investment in fixed-lines and Botswana Telecommunication Corporation pay system scandal in the late 1990s.
The twin moves saw a huge rash into cell-phones which was largely powered by the pre-paid system. The pre-paid product helped the mobile telephone to increase by 44 percent last year, while tele-density stood at 48 percent.
Ferreira said one of the major points he expects to work in Mascom’s favour is the power of innovation, which include other products, such as picture messaging and pre-paid roaming system, among others.
However, the company is expected to meet stiff competition from its rival, Orange, on areas of charges and air time bonus as it relates to the pre-paid system- which is the cream of the industry.
The two players’ moves are to further affect fixed line operator, BTC, which is loosing subscribers at a rate of about 4,300 per annum. At the moment, its subscriber base is around 132, 000. However, BTC is expected to announce a raft of new products and, possibly, a sketch plan of its tariff rebalancing on Tuesday aimed at retaining the existing customers.
The local tariff rebalancing might further negatively affect its subscriber base if it is to swing upwards in an attempt to re-coup its investment from the non performing investments in the rural areas. It will try to explain its impending privatization plan, which might see one of the local mobile telephone operators involved in a cross shareholding with it ÔÇô possibly Mascom.
Further, Mascom has won two ISO certifications from BVQI, the ISO 9001 and 41001 of 2004- the latter as a compliment for being environmentally friendly.