News & Analysis

Botswana looks to expand the country's digital services

22nd July 2020
Lanna Deamer

Israel’s Pangea, which focuses on digital transformation of government and business services, has been selected by the government of Botswana to integrate its eVisa solution as part of the southern African country’s efforts to expand its online and digital services. This will enable visitors to Botswana to obtain a visa online and have a seamless entry upon arrival at all the land and air arrival points in the country.

The new process is expected to minimise the government’s investment of money, time, paperwork and manpower allocated for visa applications, and to better service the visitors. The decision is seen as a major vote of confidence by Botswana in Pangea’s eVisa solution and follows years of experience by the Israeli company in digitising government services in the country.

eVisa transfers the entire management of the visa application process to the digital space. The traveler enters the country’s eVisa portal, submits the application and the supporting documents online, pays online and communicates with the authorities over the internet. If and when the application is approved, the eVisa can be downloaded, printed, brought to the airport, and help both authorities and travelers to minimise queues and cumbersome paper-based documentation.

Online visas are becoming more popular as both governments and travelers are increasingly embracing the digital age. Visa requirements for many countries are already available online and more countries have also introduced the option to obtain a visa online.

The COVID-19 global health crisis is expected to accelerate the trend, as tourists will be looking at reducing their contacts at consulates or embassies in their home countries and at entry points at the travel destination. In the case of Botswana this is extremely important since the country has a limited number of diplomatic offices abroad so the eVisa option will contribute to making travelling to the popular safari destination much easier for visitors from various countries.

Pangea has been active in Botswana since 2003 when the company installed a digital birth and death registration system which is still in operation. In 2010, the Israeli company deployed a computerised Immigration and Citizenship System (ICS) in Botswana. Recently the Botswana government awarded Pangea a contract to modernise the ICS system by installing the latest operating systems and upgrading the software.

“We are in the process of integrating our eVisa solution and expect to have it operational till the end of the year,” said Uzy Rozenthal, Pangea EVP, General Manager Government Division.

By then, it is hoped that the global tourist industry in general and tourism to Botswana in particular, will begin to recover. Botswana’s safari parks and lodges have enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years.

Rozenthal noted that: “eVisa will dramatically speed up the entry process in Botswana and will translate into a substantial savings in both administration costs and time needed without compromising border security.”

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