BTC connects farmers to the Internet

Cattle ranchers in Kaka are delighted that they can reach out to the wider world from the outback for just about anything, especially the beef market and banks


Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has introduced a new VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology countrywide covering even the remotest parts of the country, giving farmers Internet connectivity through its vast telecommunications network.

Farmers within Kaka ranches in Kgalagadi now have easy access to communication services which can revitalize their livestock farming operations.

BTC says it is responding to the fact that farmers and farming activities are affected by poor Internet and telecommunications infrastructure, which leads to poor yields and growth prospects. According to BTC, livestock farmers within the Kaka ranches in the Western Sandveld have for years been troubled by poor telecommunications systems within their region. The company says these farmers have also faced challenges with tracking their livestock across their wide terrain.

The new BTC platform penetrates hostile remote areas with ease, providing high speed Internet even to the most remote settlements. During the BTC digital innovation launch recently, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Dorcas Makgato, applauded the telco giant for technological inclusion for all in a speech that delighted the farmers. Commented one of the cattle ranchers, Gokatweng Coach Tshekiso: “Communication has been bad in this part of the country. The problem le me to install a satellite phone, which is very expensive to maintain. I settled for this alternative because I have to be in contact with the commercial world as well as with my farm workers. But since BTC’s new VSAT technology was introduced, my farm business operations and communication with stakeholders have improved significantly.”

Tshekiso said due to the high speed Internet provided by the new technology, it is now simple to perform banking transactions from the outback of the country. He noted that this was unlike in the past when banking transactions entailed travelling to the nearest town. BTC’s new VSAT offers the Internet and voice connectivity, which helps farmers to research new methods of farming to increase outputs, as well as monitor and respond to weather variability on a day-to-day basis. The farmes can also exchange ideas and information and conduct business among themselves.

Said another cattle rancher, Goabamang Setlhaba: “VSAT is very helpful, especially in these remote areas. We now have access to the Internet and so am I am able to communicate with my clients effortlessly. In addition to the Internet access, we also make voice calls to butchery owners, the Botswana Meat Commission and others.”

These cattle ranchers understand the significance of productivity, connectivity and inclusion that the new technology can enhance. Farmers can now also access the BAITS System, computerised brand certificates and Herd Cards more easily. Further, computerised movement permits and new change of ownership documents can be printed on the spot. The farmers believe that access to BAITS will lead to reduced cattle rustling because of easier identification of stolen cattle.

In essence, there should be increased security for the beef export market because customers overseas will be assured of the origin and traceability of cattle. The VSAT solution also provides farmers with access to tools for accurate disease management information and access to research into new methods of farming to increase output. Further, the technology provides vast online opportunities for creating new markets for their rural businesses.

The network uptime on this technology is approximately 99.5%, exceeding typical terrestrial cable lines. The technology is designed mainly for any customer who is remote from the main grids and base stations to access voice and data services. BTC says its technology transformation in the telecommunications infrastructure is unmatched in the market today. By onboarding the new satellite technology, which offers an improved broadband, broadcast and data services, BTC has entrenched its position as the network of the future, it says.

The upgrade of the BTC satellite service using the latest technology enables the company to deliver high speed internet bandwidth to any customer in Botswana, including farms, tourism areas, towns and villages anywhere in the country. The VSAT service provides an overlay and blanket broadband coverage over the entire country, thus complementing BTC’s 4G coverage footprint.