Thursday, July 17, 2008

Botswana cellphones revitalize business

From the AFrican Executive.

In July 2005, approximately four-fifths of Botswana’s population did not have access to electricity. However, enterprising village entrepreneurs have utilised the opportunity created by the lack of electricity to fill the resultant niche in the market for the recharging of cell phone batteries. These entrepreneurs have overcome the problem by utilising the novel idea of offering to recharge mobile phone batteries for a small fee using their automobile batteries to do the charging.

Among the many groups that have benefited from mobile phones, women are perhaps the largest. Ms. Stadile Manthe who runs a small retail ‘tuck shop’ and phone service in the village of Mmopane, a short drive from the capital, Gaborone started her business in 1998 and slowly expanded her inventory. She thought that if she could start her own business, maybe she could “get something.” She certainly has got something and mobiles and their associated services have greatly assisted her in achieving this. ...Although the success of Ms Manthe cannot entirely be attributed to mobile cellular services that she provides, the mobile phone has enabled her to place orders for her tuck shop, increased her efficiency, and has provided her with regular additional income. The additional money that she now earns as a direct result of the advent of the mobile phone is by no means insignificant. It is has raised her capacity for saving and investment and helped her to become the proud owner of half a dozen rental cottages. ...

Here in Asia, even our farmers have cellphones (often the family has one and shares it around). You buy a fifty peso "load" (now they are selling ten peso "loads") and text. Usually there is a "sarisari" store (small variety store) that sells these loads. Of course, here our villages have had electricity since 1992.

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