Botswana’s Be Mobile to make profit in second year

Telecoms

Be Mobile’s CEO Thapelo Lippe predicts that this latest entrant into the cellular network provider market will make profits in its second financial year. Be Mobile is the third cellphone network provider in the country after Mascom and Orange.

Be Mobile is owned by the Botswana incumbent BTC which has pumped more than P200 million into it to set up the cellphone network provider. Lippe should know what he is talking about when he says be Mobile will make profits this year. He was formerly CEO of Orange Botswana which made profits when he took over after eight years of losses."We are going to be producing profits before the end of this year even against the hard economic recession," he said.

"(Our competitors) are trying to hold on to their customers," he said. Lippe added that they are not afraid of competition. He said they have already captured six percent of the market. The be Mobile target is to grow by more than 100 percent by the end of the year. "We are rapidly expanding our infrastructure. We have the fastest infrastructure roll out plan the country has ever seen. Within a year, we have reached over 100 effective towers. We are going to pick up the pace," he said.

Lippe said they are doing things differently. "We are not giving out trinkets like cars”, he said. He stated that they are currently running a competition in which a winner will take over a P4.5 million farm and this is what Batswana want. Lippe said as a Botswana-owned company, they are better suited to meet the needs of citizens of the country. "We know the mindsets of Batswana. We have a 100 percent Batswana team," he said.

However, being a state-owned company, be Mobile moves at a slower pace as compared to private sector firms. There is the usual red tape and they have to consult with the government before taking certain decisions.

Lippe said when they rolled out their programme, they had to ensure that Batswana companies are awarded tenders. "We have to try and empower Batswana." He stated that they are the only cellphone network provider with a reach to Kaundwane, a settlement of about 600 people outside the Central Khalahari Game Reserve. He said if be Mobile was a private company, it would have looked hard at whether providing such a service was viable.

Mmegi