Orange Botswana wants to be the digital partner of the Government of Botswana to navigate through the 4th Industrial Revolution, the mobile company’s chief executive officer Dr Patrick Benon, said at a gala dinner celebrating the organisation’s 20th anniversary.
The 4th industrial revolution is driven by the emergence of the Internet and digitalisation and according to Benon, it is the first revolution which is not linked to the emergence of a new type of energy, but instead, it is technology oriented. It is also the first revolution which will impact all industries without exception and will completely change the world.Benon said Orange Botswana has noted President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ambition to turn Botswana into a high-income country and a knowledge-based economy as well as to diversify the economy as articulated in the National Vision 2036 and the recent State of the Nation Address.
He said the president’s ambition to create more and sustainable jobs for the youth of Botswana can only be achieved through leveraging the opportunities coming from the 4th industrial revolution. “If Africa does not take advantage of opportunities coming with Internet and digitalisation, which are the starting point of this fourth industrial revolution, we will regret our hesitation for generations to come,” he warned.He said that Africans and Batswana have the skills and the talent to leverage on this revolution and that it is our “collective responsibility” to harness and nurture it and take the continent and country to another level. For the past 20 years, Orange Botswana has been a mobile telecommunication player mainly providing telephone and Internet services. In future, Orange Botswana will be a multi-service operator.
This shift has started already with the emergence of Orange Money which allowed Orange Botswana to be a digital partner of Batswana for financial inclusion. New innovations are coming in digital education, in e-health, in m-agriculture that will consolidate this positioning of Orange Botswana as a multi-service operator. This will bring a lot of opportunities for local startups because the plan is to create an ecosystem which will allow start-ups to develop solutions addressing the customer needs leveraging our infrastructure.
Benon said Orange, previously Vista Cellular Network, was conceived in Botswana. They began trading as a mobile network operator with passion and a firm commitment to changing the nature of the telecommunications landscape. “The journey has been incredible and we have seen tremendous growth in the sector and the country”.
He said there are notable actions over the past 20 years that illustrate Orange Botswana as a success story both as a business and as a corporate citizen. “For us, as a business, we are driven by the number of lives we touch, the change that we bring to the Nation and the footprint that we leave behind as a brand”.
Among their biggest achievements is the Orange Money service, which is not just a means for financial transaction but is also a financial inclusion tool that continues to improve economic and social conditions of Batswana. Benon said they have also been instrumental in ensuring that the latest technology is available to Batswana, especially when it comes to data connectivity. They were the first to launch the 4G technology in Botswana in 2015. They have also been supporting start-ups and unlocking opportunities for young talented entrepreneurs across Botswana.
An example is a Botswana start-up named Brastorne which innovatively targets the farming community to improve access to markets and information. Brastorne currenrly employs more than 50 people and has a turnover of more than P1.2 million per month.
“Moreover, we have supported this start-up to expand beyond Botswana by introducing them to other Orange affiliates. As we speak, Brastorne has signed contracts with Orange Madagascar and is in advanced stages of signing Orange Guinea to launch their service in both countries”.
Orange also runs on an annual basis the Orange Social Venture Prize, which is an innovation prize to identify and reward social entrepreneurs who use technology to bring community solutions that drive towards social and economic development.
“Our actions also empower communities through the Orange Foundation, which is our philanthropic arm. Since its establishment in Botswana in 2011, the Orange Foundation has dedicated more than P8 million towards solidarity for people living with disabilities; to support women, girls and the youth; and to improve livelihoods in rural and underserved communities.