[Gabarone BOTSWANA] Internet networking company UUNET SA has expanded its African Internet presence by
acquiring a 50 percent stake in Botswana ISP Interswana for an undisclosed sum.
UUNet, already with Internet operations in neighboring Namibia and having installed networks in
countries as far away as Nigeria and Swaziland, believes that this deal will provide them with an
ideal platform to expand into the Botswana Internet market.
Negotiations for this acquisition began towards the end of last year, according to
UUNet SA’s Rob Lith, and the companies are already rolling out radio-based Internet
connectivity to the Gabarone, Selebi/Phikwe, Serowe/Palapye and Francistown/Maun
The Gabarone infrastructure is expected to be operational within a month.
“Our Namibian operation has already reaped rich dividends,” says Lith, “and our
licensing agreements allowed us to enter the Botswana Internet networking market as
well, which will expand our regional presence.”
Lith cites the upward economic swing of the Botswana economy – GDP grew by over
8.3% during 1999 – as a contributing factor towards the decision to enter the country’s
As a consequence of this growth, Lith explains, international companies operating in
the region require reliable Internet connectivity.
The radio-based connectivity is a method employed in the past by UUNet in South
Africa, albeit for a limited duration.
The company streamed video footage from a surfing event in the Cape last year using
a radio link with a fair amount of success and Lith believes that the technology holds
great promise for the uptake of the Internet in Africa.
The flexibility of the radio link, when looked at in the context of the unreliable nature of
fixed line infrastructure in Africa, would appear to favor this as a long term option for
A major implication of this deal is that an expanded regional presence will eventually
allow UUNet users to ‘roam’ across regional networks.
This will mean that businessmen with commercial interests across the national borders
will be able to make use of the UUNet networks for e-mail and other Internet-based
services whether in Namibia, Botswana or South Africa.
The partnership with Interswana also solved another of UUNet’s headaches.
Despite UUNet’s Botswana licence, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation
had not been providing leased line access as the company required.
The deal will allow the company to lever off Interswana’s existing lines, providing the
company with a foothold in the country.