The operator of Botswana’s fixed-line telephone service is Botswana Telecom (BTC; www.btc.bw). Local and domestic calls at peak times start at P40 per minute and rise according to the distance. When deciding when to call, remember that prices drop by up to one-third for local and domestic calls, and 20% for international calls, from 8pm to 7am Monday to Friday, 1pm to midnight Saturday and all day Sunday. These discounts don’t apply if you use the operator.
There are no internal area codes in Botswana. The country code for Botswana is 267 and the international access code is 00.
Local SIM cards can be used in Australian and European phones. Wide swathes of the country are not covered by the mobile network.
Botswana has two main mobile-phone networks, Mascom Wireless (www.mascom.bw) and Orange Botswana (www.orange.co.bw), of which Mascom is the largest provider. All providers have dealers in most large and medium-sized towns, where you can buy phones, SIM cards and top up your credit. Government-run Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (www.btc.bw) runs the beMobile network, but its future was uncertain at the time of writing.
The coverage map for the two main providers is improving with each passing year, but when deciding whether to get a local SIM card, remember that there’s simply no mobile coverage across large parts of the country (including much of the Kalahari and Okavango Delta). That said, the main highway system is generally covered.
Most Botswana mobile numbers begin with 71, 72 or 73.
Telephone booths can be used for local, domestic and international calls, and can be found in and outside all BTC offices, outside all post offices and around all shopping centres and malls. Blue booths (with the English and Setswana words ‘coin’ and madi) take coins, and the green booths (with the words ‘card’ and karata) use phonecards.
Phonecards can be bought at BTC offices, post offices and some small grocery shops. Local and long-distance telephone calls can also be made from private telephone agencies, often called ‘phone shops’.