Gaborone Metro Ring up-and-running

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Just like the lightning-fast Internet they promise to provide, Liquid Intelligent Technologies have completed the Gaborone Metro Ring project in super quick time.

Billed as a ‘world-class, high-capacity, high-speed, secure telecommunication network’, work on the two-phase project began in August 2023.

10 months later and both phases are complete, with key locations in the capital, including households and businesses, connected.

However, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology, Cecil Masiga, warned it will be a while before internet consumer enjoy lower prices.

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“You consider multiple factors such as the availability of relevant infrastructure as well as transit costs in neighbouring countries. All these make it difficult to be certain as to when customers could start enjoying the benefits. We are, however, certain that in the long term there has to be that trickle down benefit,” said Masiga.

“When the benefits finally come, they would be at a rate that makes economic sense to service providers to earn returns on their investment. Internet service providers are the last line to determine the last price to consumers, but there will always be negotiations between them and wholesale providers to ensure that final prices are as low as economically possible,” promised Masiga adding government is negotiating with neighbouring countries for the best rates.

Similarly, Internet Service Providers Association Chairperson, Dr Bernard Ndove, assure GC residents that the Metro Ring will eventually see internet costs slashed.

“Service providers used various modes to reach their clients such as WI-FI, which could be unreliable. This forced us to invest in better technology, thereby forcing prices hike. However, with the fibre used in the Gaborone Metro Ring, it is more reliable and would help reduce tariffs to consumers as there would be less add-on costs,” noted Ndove.

In 2022, a study by on affordable mobile data found Botswana to be one of the most expensive in the world, ranking BW 228 out of 233 surveyed countries.

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Measuring the cost of 1GB of mobile date across the observed nations, the study found the average cost of 1GB was $15.55 (P210.95) from nine random mobile data packages.

The cheapest was $9.36 (P127.38) while the most expensive was $31.26 (P424.07).

Confident they can improve the situation, Liquid Intelligent Technologies Botswana Managing Director (MD), Odirile Tamajobe said, “We will sit and negotiate prices with wholesale buyers because, as a company, it has been our long-term objective to help the country reduce Internet tariffs as we grow.”

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According to 2023 Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) annual report, mobile broadband use increased by 14 percent between March 2022 and 2023, with 2, 768, 010 portable modems registered.

Keen to cash in, operators developed consumer-driven packages, including affordable smartphones, which contributed to increased access and usage.

There was also impressive growth for fixed wireless subscriptions in the same 12-month period, up 37 percent from 82, 909 to 113, 889.

This was attributed to new products and services introduced by mobile operators.

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