Sunday, March 26, 2023

WACS to enhance Botswana’s international connectivity of ICT

The Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) Chief Executive Officer, Paul Taylor, says through the West Africa Cable System (WACS), Botswana is enhancing its connection to the information highway – another major step towards becoming a knowledge-based society.

Taylor pointed out that the government, through BTC, invested $37.5 million in the $659 million undersea submarine communication cable linking Africa with the United Kingdom along the West Coast of Africa, an investment made jointly with the government of Namibia.

Taylor said WACS, which was successfully landed at Swakopmund, Namibia, in 2011, is geared towards changing the lives of the people by leveraging on the benefit of ICT. He added that it will provide the nation with high quality and reliable internet and telephony services.

“This undersea cable system carries data, voice and video faster and cheaper thereby providing us and many African countries with enhanced direct international submarine cable connectivity,” said Taylor.

He also revealed that WACS will be operational for the next 25 years and added that BTC has invested over P90 million in expanding its Trans Kalahari fibre national backbone network through a new transmission. Taylor stated that BTC and Telecom Namibia continued working together closely at all levels to deliver the vision of broadening the availability of high speed and cost effective internet connectivity.

“BTC has also enhanced internet connectivity through the East African Cable System providing another high quality fibre service,” he said.

Taylor revealed that with WACS, BTC Group reduced its Wholesale internet bandwidth prices by up to fifty nine percent from august this year as a result of the commissioning of WASC undersea cable. He added that WACS therefore allowed the company to subsequently pass on the cost benefit of reliable internet accessibility to BTC’s valuable wholesale customers.

“On the retail side of our business, BTC is currently working on a new pricing structure for customers following wholesale bandwidth price reductions,” said Taylor.

He further pointed out that the mobile subsidiary, beMobile, will be expanding mobile coverage to towns and major villages in the country, through which coverage is available to about 80 percent of the population.

He also said the benefit will not materialise overnight or to the extent of the discounts provided in the internet access services. He said that it will nonetheless have a material impact on prices charged to end-user retail customers.

“Though Telecom Namibia will operate and maintain the cable landing station, BTC and other stakeholders will have access to the facility and be able to co-locate their services within the station,” said BTC CEO.

The Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefhi, also pointed out that the project was very complex in nature as it involved a concerted effort from 16 countries.

He revealed that one of the major challenges that the project team faced was to ensure that Botswana had access to backhaul links from the landing station in Swakopmund, Namibia. He stated that the negotiations between BTC and Telekom Namibia on behalf of the two governments were eventually a success.

“Completion of WACS is not the end, but it is a means to an end. In order to realise the full benefits of WACS capacity, our telecommunications network must have matching capacity,” Molefhi stated.


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