Botswana’s telecoms tariffs lowest in region

Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) Chief Executive Officer, Moses Lekaukau, took members of the Press by surprise when he announced that no other country in the region offered cheaper rates in telecommunications.

“We are the cheapest on tariffs,” the outgoing CEO said.

Lekaukau’s comments contradict a hard-hitting report published by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), which said that communication in Botswana was a factor that contributed to the uncompetitiveness of most local industries.

But Lekaukau is unfazed by critics that Botswana had fared unfavourably high in telecom rates.

Asked about the reported high costs, he maintained that Botswana was the lowest in the region and provided documentary proof for mobile prepaid tariffs in eight SADC countries.

“We have the official SADC report given to regulatory associations,” he said.

Lekaukau said they have not yet compiled data for regionally fixed line telephony. According to the SADC report, Botswana had the lowest tariff call to the United Kingdom at P5,40, with Zimbabwe at Z$12 871,13 per minute, South Africa at R10 (about P8,57) and Zambia at US$1,42 (about P8,49) per minute.

However, the SAIIA comparative analysis suggested that Botswana ranked the highest in the region.

The SAIIA report noted that it was more expensive to call Europe from Botswana than from any other SADC country.

SAIIA analysis indicated that it cost P4,04 per minute to call Europe, with Kenya at P4,00, Mozambique (P3,60), South Africa (P2,21) while Namibia trailed behind at P1,23 per minute.

The high disparities have been referred to as one of the most problematic factors for doing business in the country.

On other issues, the BTA boss who will be retiring from service in December, said the corporation was preparing for the neutral service license, which would allow mobile phone operators and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) to operate both fixed lines and mobile phone services.

“Government has taken a decision that instead of bringing in another mobile operator, BTC, Mascom and Orange will have a neutral service license to operate both services,” he said.

August 2006
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