World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report indicates that only two African countries have showed a significant improvement in the ease of doing business. In Doing Business 2020, the top 10 improvers are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China, India as well as Nigeria.
These economies implemented a total of 59 regulatory reforms in 2018/19- accounting for one-fifth of all the reforms recorded worldwide. Their efforts focused primarily on the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and trading across borders.
According to the report, Togo was ranked 97th worldwide with a 7.0 change in Doing Business score, while Nigeria settled for the 131th position, with a 3.4 change in doing business score.
The report indicated that Jordan and Kuwait are new additions to the list of 10 most improved economies. Nigeria appears as one of the top-10 improvers for the second time. India, which has conducted a remarkable reform effort, joins the list for the third year in a row. Previously, only Burundi, Colombia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Georgia featured on the list of 10 top improvers for three consecutive Doing Business cycles. Given the size of India’s economy, these reform efforts are particularly commendable.
World Bank indicated that factors that drive economies to reform can either be political or economic or both. The economic advancement of neighbouring countries is also an important motivational factor. Their report says research on the effects of market-liberalizing reforms in 144 economies over the period 1995-2006 finds that the most important factor in transmitting reforms between countries is their geographical and cultural proximity.
The spill over effect is magnified when more countries adopt reforms that boost economic development. Furthermore, mass media coverage affects political decisions. A recent study finds that economies with higher media coverage of Doing Business tend to carry out more business regulatory reforms, which one- and two lags between media coverage and reform implementation.
The motivation for reform in Nigeria and Togo was in part the developmental achievements of their neighbours. Rwanda’s progress over the past 10 years inspired authorities in Togo, leading several Togolese delegations to visit Kigali to learn about successful reforms. Togo’s president, according to the report, set a goal to be number one in West Africa in Doing Business 2020. To achieve this target, Togo made significant reform efforts in the areas of starting a business, registering property, and getting credit.
Similarly, after observing an economic transformation in neighbouring Uzbekistan, Tajikistan’s president took a special interest in improving the country’s ranking on the ease of doing business. Nigeria has embarked on a comprehensive reform journey following the example of Kenya. In the previous year, 115 economies implemented 294 business regulatory reforms across the 10 areas measured by Doing Business.
Most of these reforms addressed aspects of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, and paying taxes; the least reformed area was resolving insolvency. The most common reform features included advancing the functionality of credit bureaus and registries, developing or enhancing online platforms to comply with regulatory requirements, improving the reliability of power supply, reducing certain taxes, strengthening minority investor protections, streamlining property registration processes and automating international trade logistics. Low-income countries accounted for 11 per cent of all the regulatory changes, with Togo implementing the highest number of reforms.
The report says in Sub-Saharan Africa, Togo represents a bright spot. Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the weak-performing regions on the ease of doing business with an average score of 51.8, well below the OECD high-income economy average of 78.4 and the global average of 63.0. compared to the previous year, Sub-Saharan African economies raised their average eased of doing business score by just 1 per cent point in Doing Business 2020, whereas economies in the Middle East and North Africa region raised their average score by 1.9.
Globally reforms in the areas dealing with construction permits and getting electricity have risen sharply in recent years, peaking in 2018/19 at 37 and 34, respectively. Twenty one of the 37 economies reforming aspects of dealing with construction permits simplified the permitting processes by streamlining interactions with agencies for preapprovals and inspections. The report said another 16 reformed their building quality control systems. In addition, 12 economies either set up or improved online platforms for processing building permits, and 3 economies launched one-stop shops.
In the area of getting electricity, Ghana and Nigeria reduced electricity connection times, the report claims. It says sixteen economies made substantial investments in modernizing electric infrastructure through the installation of substations and remote-control systems; others improved distribution network maintenance. Mainly owing to targeted improvements in electricity supply, the average global duration of power cuts fell by 8.3 per cent between 2017 and 2018. Although blackouts remain relatively frequent in Sub-Saharan Africa, utilities in this region made substantial progress in providing a better power supply to their customers.
Not all regulatory changes make it easier for entrepreneurs to do business, the report said. Some changes are a conscious trade-off. Political changes also play a role; this is according to the report. In Sudan, the new majority in the National Assembly did not endorse temporary amendments to the Compliance Act. As a result, a lapse in the provisions adversely affected Sudan’s performance on the indicators for getting credit, protecting minority investors, and resolving insolvency.
According to the ease of doing business ranking, Rwanda is on the 38th place, Belgium 46th Morocco 53rd, Kenya 56th, Tunisia 78th, South Africa 84th, Zambia 85th and Botswana was ranked 87th in the whole world. Doing Business 2020 is the 17th in a series of annual studies investigating the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it.
It represents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 190 economies- from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe- and over time. Regulations affecting 12 areas of the life of a business are covered: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, employing workers, and contracting with the government.
The employing workers and contracting with the government indicator sets are not included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business. The indicators are used to analyse economic outcomes and identify what reforms of business regulation have worked, where and why.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203. BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.
He further stated that through this marathon, “we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society”. He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.