Greetings Afrik-ITers (and a few others)!
I've been working here in Botswana with the SANGONeT staffer who's to
provide backup tech support regionally to USAID partners. We had a
few hours to kill before his flight back to Johannesburg from
Gaborone, so we decided to tour the town. He suddenly starts reading
this big sign that says "Internet Services" or something like that.
We pull off the road quick -- it's Info-Botswana.
Quite a place. They've been dabbling in Internet peripheral
services for awhile now, though the main business has been print
publishing and other things. Now they're probably one of Africa's
fastest growing Internet TCP/IP service providers.
While I was sitting in the lobby, I watched several customers in
animated discussions with technical support staff about the various
intricacies of modem handshaking, configuring Win95 dialup
networking with a PCMCIA modem (ugh), etc. Busy place.
Then a few technicians from Botswana Telecoms arrived to continue
their efforts to resolve a vexing problem with the "hunt" sequence on
the modem bank. They've got plenty of lines, but one of them is a
bit sticky for some reason. My contact at Info Botswana reports that
Botswana Telecoms has been exceedingly diligent and helpful in trying
to resolve the problem.
We're working with a USAID partner in the region, specifically an
agricultural research institution of SADC called SACCAR. It looks
like Info-Botswana may be able to provide them with an enterprise
level account with UUCP to a CC:Mail LAN for mail, plus a dialup
account for one PPP user. So the five or six staff scientists will
have better email than they have now, and they'll be able to surf
from the library. Pretty exciting.
This comes about because Botswana Telecoms signed a deal with Sprint
for an equipment upgrade to make available leased TCP/IP lines to
Internet retailers like Info Botswana. And Botswana Telecoms
decided to allow retailers to exist, or there was a change in the
law, or both -- I'm a bit confused now about the story.
Nice prices, especially compared to other places in Africa: P80 per
month for email. P150 per month for full PPP Internet. About 3.5
pula to the US$.
Jeff @ Gaborone