Botswana has done well in the area of voice communication, with a mobile teledensity of 168 % and fixed line teledensity of 8.4 % recorded in 2015. Overall voice network coverage is currently estimated at 95%. The high mobile teledensity has been linked to multiple SIM Card ownership which consumers prefer in order to access at least one network in places where service by other Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) is not available. Consumers also aim to take advantage of product and price offerings across different networks.The Nteletsa II Project (2009-2011) that saw a partnership between the Botswana Government and two operators has contributed immensely to increased voice coverage across the country. Each of the two operators (Mascom and Be-Mobile) have been able to extend its network coverage to above 95% of the population. Voice coverage for the third operator, Orange Botswana reaches about 79 % of the population. It is estimated that approximately 3 % (60 000 individuals) of Batswana do not have voice services today. This 3% of the population is found in locations with less than 250 inhabitants. The communities therefore fall under the “True Access Gap” category of projects that need financial assistance from the Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) as they are completely commercially unviable for service provision by MNOs. Additionally, gaps in voice communications have been identified along major national transport routes such as the Trans-Kalahari Highway, and other key economic areas such as tourist centres and commercial farms. To close these identified gaps, the UASF intends to;
- Identify accurately the number and type of locations without voice services today, number of inhabitants and level of demand for voice communications;
- Prioritise key economic corridors (national highways, tourist centres, commercial farms, etc) to be connected with at least voice and narrowband data; and
- Ensure delivery of voices services to these locations under smart-subsidy terms and competitive bidding by licensed operators.