Invading the internet space

Baitshepi Sekgweng
BUSINESS MINDED: Odirile Tamajobe

Meet the boss

Liquid Intelligent Technologies opened its doors in Botswana in 2018 as a barely new entrant in the fibre and internet services space.

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Despite that, the company’s well documented record in other countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius spoke volumes about its operations.

Led by Odirile Tamajobe as the Chief Executive Officer, the Botswana division has grown over the past six years to become a key player in the wholesale internet services space with notable achievements of 30 employees and almost 100km stretch of fibre from Lobatse to Gaborone.

Armed with a Degree in Business Administration from University of Botswana, the 47-year-old assumed the reigns at Liquid Intelligent Technologies in 2019 and since then, he has never looked back. he talks to VOICE MONEY about his intention to position the company as a major player in the industry.

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What is Liquid Intelligent Technologies and what does it offer?

We started as Liquid Telecomm and three years back we rebranded to the current name. The main reason for rebranding was to move into the other sector of the business to provide solutions on cloud services and cyber security. We are mainly a provider of infrastructure that enables businesses to operate, that is fibre and dedicated internet to businesses.

By infrastructure we have our own fibre which enters the country through Lobatse to Gaborone. In Gaborone we built what is called a metro ring. That’s where now we distribute our services to our clients. All this is to enable Batswana to have access to digital services and internet and our mission is to bring this connectivity, not leave any Motswana behind and make this as affordable as possible and be on par with other countries.

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How is the reception of your services in the market?

The reception has been good because in our industry we didn’t come as an unknown entity, but an international company. So the consumers of our services, mainly knew about us before we opened offices locally. Obviously, there were challenges as a newcomer because already we found other players here but my vision and goal is not to take away their business but provide an alternative.

In this ICT sector you need an alternative such that when one player is down services can be routed through another player’s fibre. So we need to do collaborations and partnerships such that at the end of the day we cut costs in some projects, so we should work together and compete at the same time.

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What impact has Liquid Intelligent Technologies brought to the local market?

The past few years have been massive especially laying down our fibre and metro ring because it brought stability to our internet. Indirectly it has influenced the prices and made them affordable. It has also accelerated the mission by government to go digital and we have closed some pockets in areas which are remote.

So when you look at an area of Okavango Delta they rely on us for internet. We are now able to see Botswana being sold overseas because everyone has access to the internet.

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Technology is gaining traction worldwide, how advanced are we as Botswana?

We are not yet there, maybe still at four out of ten. We have areas which are still struggling though we are advanced in towns and cities in connectivity. When you go to lodges and parks you will see that these are areas which we need to close and make sure we have access to internet and calls more especially for emergencies. But at the rate we are going we will reach the 50 percent mark soon.

How are you planning to ensure that no one is not left behind in internet connectivity?

What we do is working closely with Internet Service Providers(ISPs) who inform us where there is a need for internet connectivity and then sit down, assess and then take services there. We give ISPs the most affordable rates. The most capital intensive thing is rolling out fibre and radio but the end product is affordable.

What influences your decisions when it comes to choosing places where you can roll out your fibre and services to?

We get the demand through the ISPs we deal with and the available data. We are also always looking at market analysis and get to see where there is population expansion.

Who are your major clients?

Our major clients are ISPs who we sell to and they then re-sell, so we operate as wholesalers. We then have enterprises such as banks and retailers whom we provide with services directly. At the moment we have few individuals connected at homes with our internet because we haven’t invested much in that area.

You have operations outside of Botswana, how do this divisions complement one another?

Being part of a group is a strength, with the expertise we don’t have locally, we can always tap from other operations. They have been there before and designed solutions so they are better experienced than us. My team are learning from them. I do secondment and we work with them on a daily basis. It also makes it easier to be aware of what is happening in our network. If there is a cut in our network, those in South Africa or Zimbabwe are able to inform us and we come up with solutions.

Any challenges faced by Liquid Intelligent Technologies?

We have areas which are not serviced, so now it becomes expensive to roll out services to them. There are pockets where people are within reach but services are not yet there, but BOCRA is working on that such that we rectify as a country. The other one is having those tenders which require 100 percent citizen owned companies but we operate in Botswana, hired Batswana and build infrastructure here.

So it means we don’t participate in such tenders but its the law there is nothing we can do. It is all done in good faith to protect local businesses from big conglomerates but there should be a balance. These are conversations we are having at high level so I hope it will change.

In terms of the market share, where is Liquid Intelligent Technologies positioned?

We have a state owned entity in the same area as us. Since we are still new, we’re still not yet there because the parastatal has 80 percent of the market while the rest of us are fighting for the remaining 20. But it’s okay because they use state funds to roll out services and fibre anywhere. What we need to do is to leverage on what is already done and conclude the last mile.

Now let’s talk about your corporate social responsibility initiatives, any in the pipeline?

We have connected some schools with dedicated internet. Recently we donated in Otse village to the Camp Hill Trust which comprises of three schools in it. We provide them with internet for free for the next three years. For us, this is what is at the heart of the company because we don’t want to leave any Motswana behind.

We are not only in urban areas but we have been to areas such as Mmathubudukwane, therefore we are giving as much as we can.

How did your partnership with Botswana Volleyball Federation(BVF) come about?

We are always looking for areas where we can help and for us to be visible. BVF approached us with many proposals but we agreed to the tournament and it was a good one. We are looking for sponsorships which can help Batswana going forward and to see players being motivated. So it’s not closed to volleyball. We are available to any other sporting codes.

What are your future plans for Liquid Intelligent Technologies?

We are here to stay, to be a force to be reckoned with and grow as big as other entities we find here. We are planning on reaching other parts of the country, so we are at the drawing board to see which routes to take and what sectors are booming which we can tap into.

Personal Profile

Full Names: Odirile Tamajobe

Date of Birth:12 June ,1976

Place of Birth: Francistown

Favourite Meal: Dikgobe

Favourite Drink: Water

Holiday Destination: Okavango Delta

Team you Support: Arsenal

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