BTC’S digital migration

Baitshepi Sekgweng
BTCL CEO: Masunga

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) is embarking on a transformative journey from a traditional telecommunications entity to a cutting-edge digital e-commerce business.

This strategic shift, encapsulated in the company’s 2022-2025 strategy, aims to reshape BTCL into a digital powerhouse, committed to making smart investments and delivering high-quality, fit-for-purpose solutions to its customers.

BTCL has identified key growth areas in e-health, e-learning, and fintech, aiming to become Botswana’s leading digital services provider.

The company’s strategy seeks to boost revenue by offering high-quality services at affordable prices, targeting specific customer groups across various sectors, and leveraging cost savings to enhance profitability by the financial year 2025.

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Supporting this digital transformation is a comprehensive upgrade of BTCL’s network infrastructure to provide nationwide high-speed internet services, reinforcing its leadership in the broadband market.

Speaking at the presentation of the company’s 2023/24 financial year results, Managing Director Anthony Masunga emphasized the importance of this transformation in delivering results and creating value for shareholders.

“Significant investments have been made in digital transformation, modernizing our copper network to fiber, building data centers, and improving our mobile network to stay competitive. We must explore new growth areas, be creative, and adapt to the fintech business because telecom is the key to e-commerce,” Masunga stated.

BTCL’s strategic execution has yielded solid financial performance, with overall revenue reaching P1.436 billion, a 3 percent increase from the previous year’s P1.400 billion.

This growth was driven by a rise in fixed voice services and strong demand for mobile data services. As a result, BTCL’s profit before tax grew by 34.7 percent year-on-year, surpassing the P200 million mark post-pandemic.

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This growth is attributed to a continued focus on revenue growth and cost structure improvements, culminating in a P157 million net profit, up from P117 million the previous year.

“We will continue expanding our mobile network and enhancing service quality through new site construction and upgrades. Despite challenges like copper theft and vandalism of network equipment, we are committed to delivering high-speed broadband by accelerating the replacement of copper infrastructure with advanced technologies. Our focus on enhancing service quality is evident in our extensive range of high-speed broadband (mobile and fixed) solutions catering to various market segments,” Masunga emphasized.

However, a 7 percent increase in the cost of sales reflects rising spectrum costs and high maintenance expenses for the copper network due to ongoing copper cable theft and vandalism.

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Last year, BTCL reported a P15 million hit due to copper theft, a persistent issue impacting service delivery.

“We are quite capital-intensive with the copper write-off exercise. We found ourselves in a situation where our technology was overtaken by events, so we decided to dispose of our copper network. It was susceptible to many things, vulnerable to theft,” explained Chief Financial Officer Boitumelo Paya, adding that the sale of the removed copper network raised P30 million.

Despite these challenges, the migration of customers to fiber and wireless broadband technologies is helping mitigate the effects of copper theft and strengthens BTCL’s position in providing high-quality services.

Since its listing on the stock exchange in 2016, BTCL has paid P1.034 billion in dividends to its shareholders.

The telecommunications company, which holds 16 percent of the market share, is owned 54 percent by the government of Botswana, with the remaining 46 percent held by citizens and citizen-owned institutions.

As BTCL continues to leverage its smart investments and dedicated human capital, it aims to transform into a digital business that delivers sustainable value, driving Botswana into a future of digital innovation and connectivity.

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