Botswana :Mobile money uptake grows 65%

AUGUST 14,2014.


The uptake of mobile money services rose by 65 percent in 2013, with 248,000 subscriptions on the portfolios of the two wireless companies.  

According to recently released Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) data, the number of mobile money subscriptions was pegged at 70,000 when Orange Botswana and Mascom Botswana first introduced the services in 2011.

Mobile money allows cash to move as fast as a Short Message Service, with the customer of a particular mobile operator, registering for the service and depositing the money with any approved vendor/agent of that operator.

The customer is then allowed to transfer money to anyone in Botswana who has a mobile phone, regardless of network.

Orange launched its Orange Money product in June 2011, followed a week later by Mascom’s MyZaka, which rapidly gained market traction according to figures released by BOCRA.

According to the latest figures, mobile money subscriptions rose to 150,000 by the end of 2012 before reaching 248,000 by December 2013.

A separate Transport and Communications Ministry release indicates that by March 31, 2014 the number of mobile money subscriptions had further risen to 283,044 or 14 percent up in just three months.

While the latest figures suggest that approximately one in every 13 cellphone subscriptions in Botswana in 2013 was linked to a mobile money subscription, experts believe the density at individual level to be higher as it has been noted that many users have multiple cellphone subscriptions and use both Orange Money and MyZaka.

BOCRA figures also indicate that mobile phone subscriptions rose 5.4 percent to 3.25 percent in 2013 maintaining Botswana’s position as one of the world’s highest mobile phone densities (mobidensity).

At that level, Botswana’s mobidensity is 154 percent or 154 subscriptions per 100 people.

According to a June 2014 World Bank ICT study, prepared in conjunction with BOCRA, Botswana’s mobidensity was one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa above South Africa and Namibia, but below Seychelles which boasted 158.3 percent.

“Mobile penetration rates of over 100 percent reflect the high number of SIM cards in the market, and multiple ownership of SIM cards,” the study reads.

“There are now few differences in use of basic voice and SMS services, between mobile phone users in urban and rural areas, or between those at the top of the pyramid and those at the base.

“The continued uptake and increased use of mobile phones have been stimulated by the availability of smarter devices at lower cost and by reductions in the cost of services.”

The study, however, noted that while mobile call rates had dropped via a reduction glide path established by BOCRA, costs were still more expensive than most other African countries, being, for instance, 2.5 times more expensive than Kenya.