A thriving economy is allowing for a diversity of media outlets with significant adspend.
With a population of just over two million and a robust economy dominated by mining, tourism and cattle, the landlocked Republic of Botswana is one of the continent’s richest nations.
Alarmingly, once regarded as the global model of democracy, press freedom has now become a contentious issue, with editorial independence in both state and private media compromised, according to a 2015 Freedom House report.
Botswana boasts a thriving print sector, with a range of independent newspapers and magazines published in the capital. The widest-circulated newspaper, the state-owned Daily News – printed in English and Setswana, the two official languages – is free and is the only newspaper available in rural areas. Among the 13 private newspapers, Mmegi is the only other daily, owned by the largest and most influential private media company in the country.
Most newspapers are mainly accessible in Gaborone, but are also readily available online. The most popular include Bots247, Botswana Guardian, Echo, Midweek Sun and The Monitor. Newer publications include the Global Post (in Chinese and English) and the Telegraph.
Local magazines include a fair range of lifestyle, trade and specialist, such as the environmental mag Wena, Hotel and Tourism, Lapologa for the youth market, and the state-published Kutlwano. Official figures for print media have been unavailable since 2009.
Broadcast media dominated by state
The state dominates broadcast media. Botswana Television (Btv) broadcasts nationwide and is also accessible in the Southern African region. The private e-Botswana (formerly the Gaborone Broadcasting Corporation TV) has limited reach, though pay television is accessible through DStv, and free-to-air channels via satellite decoders such as Philibao. Btv is the popular choice for Batswana, with 30% preferring to watch SABC channels and less than 10% preferring subscription channels.
Of the five radio stations, three are private: YaRona FM, Gabz FM, Duma FM. Radio Botswana 1 and 2 are government-owned, the latter being a commercial station. All stations broadcast countrywide, with reception difficulties in outlying areas, although some stations have begun streaming their content online. Interestingly, community media is barred by legislation.
Internet access is rare outside cities, the costs unaffordable for many. According to the African Barometer Report, an estimated 19% of the population used the medium in 2014. Penetration is growing steadily, boosted by a growing number of smartphone users.
Various studies have shown that despite high cellphone tariffs, Botswana boasts over 100% mobile phone penetration. “Mobile connections have become virtually ubiquitous in Botswana, where the number of consumers with more than one cellular connection is so high that penetration is already either over or very close to 100% and by 2018 will be well over 100%,” says Lyn Jones, JCDecaux’s marketing and research manager for sub-Saharan Africa.
Both the state and private media rely on advertising revenues for sustenance, although state sources often undercut private media. The major corporations in Botswana wield immense power in terms of their adspend. As with most other African countries, the two media outlets with the broadest appeal are Out of Home (OOH) and radio.
“Print advertising is best geared towards high income consumers, who are increasingly likely to be attracted to digital forms of advertising (TV, outdoor, internet and smartphones) – whereas OOH advertising has the ability to reach low and middle income consumers as well as expats and high net worth individuals,” says Jones.
A PAMRO 2013 country report revealed that in Botswana, consumer recall of OOH media for large billboards is high, at 60%.
“The added benefit is that digital OOH campaigns booked on JCDecaux’s Ignite Roadside Digital networks are controlled from a central hub in Johannesburg – advertisers are able to change copy on the fly across Africa,” notes Jones, concluding, “marketers can now segment their messages by time of day and relevance to the environment.”
Botswana FAST FACTS
|Population:||2 182 719 Urban population: 57.4% of total population (2015)|
|Age structure:||0-14 years: 32.66%,15-24 years: 21.49%, 25-54 years: 37.31%, 55-64 years: 4.48%, 65 years and over: 4.06%|
|Ethnic groups:||Tswana: 78%; Kalanga: 8%; Basarwa: 3%; Other, including Kgalagadi and white: 11%|
|Languages:||Tswana (or Setswana): 79%, Kalanga: 11%, Basarwa: 3%, other, including Kgalagadi and white: 7%|
|Income:||Share of income of highest 10%: N/A; Under poverty line: 30.3%|
|Internet users:||32 368|
Source OMG Africa September 2015
This story was first published in The Media’s Africa Annual. The Media Online will be carrying reports on media in various African countries over the next few weeks. Read the Africa Annual digizine here.