Botswana flag Botswana: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Botswana


Internet access
With a population of 2.3 million, Botswana does not boast a large consumer market; however, internet penetration, almost exclusively via mobile, is growing rapidly and now stands above the African average. The mobile market has developed after the three operators – Mascom Wireless (an affiliate of South Africa’s MTN), Orange Botswana (affiliate of Orange Group) and BTC – have entered the underdeveloped broadband sector by adopting of 3G, LTE and WiMAX technologies.
Internet subscriptions (both mobile internet and fixed internet subscriptions) increased by 5.4% in the second quarter of 2018; from 1,574,059 subscriptions in the first quarter of 2018 to 1,658,784, according to Statistics Botswana. This figure also represents a 15.6% year-on-year increase.
Fixed internet subscriptions account for a mere 0.03% of the total, at 53,057 subscriptions. Nevertheless, fixed internet is also growing thanks to lower prices that follow improvements in international connectivity. As a landlocked country, Botswana used to rely on satellites for its international bandwidth, and on other countries for transit capacity to landing points. The recent landing of additional cables in the region in recent years has helped bring prices down by up to 70%.
E-commerce market
E-commerce is still in a nascent stage in Botswana, mainly due to the lack of secure, sophisticated methods of online payment, scams and unfair business practices. According to an ICT survey by Statistics Botswana, half of the country's Internet users choose not to shop online due to the lack of trust. Nevertheless, the government of Botswana has taken steps to facilitate and regulate electronic transactions. In April 2014, it passed the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill and developed a national e-commerce strategy in 2018 to promote the use of e-commerce solutions across all sectors of the economy. The government is also in talks with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to facilitate its entry to the local market. The Pan-African online marketplace Jumia has already been active in Botswana for several years. The first Batswana e-commerce platform, Skymart, launched in 2012, boasts more than 120 sellers and is operational throughout southern Africa.
E-commerce sales and customers
In Botswana, only 4.6% of the population are regular online shoppers, according to a survey by Statistics Botswana (released in 2017 and based on data from 2014). Most purchases were done with sellers based in the Southern African Development Community (37.1%), followed closely by sellers in Europe (36%) and in America (20.5%). Local sellers accounted for a mere 8.4% of total sales as the number of local e-commerce websites is still limited.

Clothes, sports goods, books and magazines, household goods and electronic equipment are the most popular type of products purchased online. Individuals aged 35-44 years form the largest base of consumers, followed by individuals aged 25-34 years and those aged 45-54 years respectively.

Male users are slightly more active than their female counterparts on online shopping websites (53.2% against 46.8% of online shoppers respectively).

The average online shopper in Botswana is highly educated as tertiary educated individuals make up 78.7% of all e-commerce users.
Social media
Botswana has a high rate of Internet access compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa and nearly all of its Internet users have social media accounts (more than 99%, Hootsuite Survey 2018). The country also boasts the highest penetration rate of Facebook users in the region (30% penetration rate according to a Nielsen survey). Twitter is also becoming increasingly popular. Only 4% of the population are active Instagram users (Hootsuite). WhatsApp is the most popular messenger application as in the rest of Southern Africa.

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Latest Update: May 2023

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