Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) recently delivered one of the most prolific and high profile conferences this country has ever hosted, proving beyond reasonable doubt Botswana’s ability to host major events.
Headlined by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, the 23rd African Securities Exchange Association (ASEA) Conference brought together leading minds, cutting edge entrepreneurs, Heads of African elites stock markets, policy makers, investors, wealth and asset managers , captains of industries across the financial services , banking and investment sectors , to discuss issues affecting African capital markets.
Hosted at the magnificent tourist town of Kasane, the conference was held under the theme “Building Resilient African Capital Markets”. Leading finance and investment markets experts deliberated on both challenges and opportunities in the horizon for African capital markets as key players in African’s transformation agenda. When officially opening the two day event on Monday, President Masisi said the event theme “Building Resilient African Capital Markets”, was relevant and appropriate, because the importance of capital markets to the African and the global economic landscape cannot be over emphasized.
President Masisi underscored that African markets do not yet perform the key functions of providing an alternative to bank funds for debt and equity finance to the private sector which would offer a meaningful secondary market in ownership of securities. “I therefore challenge you as industry players, to note the serious shortcomings and apply yourselves to turn this around,” he said.
The President further highlighted that it is important to assess capitalisation and liquidity ratios in equity markets noting that where these remain low in the face of significant advances in macroeconomic stability, the key reasons stated are; lack of consistent development of effective regulation and institutions, inadequate financial disclosure as well as insufficient transparency in trading.
“We must discuss the main problems and policy challenges in advancing securities market development. Secondly, we should shed more light on the possibilities and options available to promote the development of efficient and transparent markets through the identification of different policy approaches chosen by individual countries on the continent and in our peer markets globally,” he said.
Mr Karim Hajji President of African Securities Exchanges Association explained that ASEA is the premier association of twenty-five (25) securities exchanges in Africa, five (5) associate members and two (2) observer members that have come together with the aim of developing member exchanges and providing opportunities for knowledge-sharing and collaboration.
Established in 1993 and headquartered in Kenya, ASEA works with African Member Exchanges to unlock potential of the African Capital Markets by, enhancing the visibility of ASEA members at an international level, with a view to attract capital inflows to African Capital Markets, Providing an authoritative information portal on African public markets and aggregated statistics on African Exchanges and Promoting market development among Member Exchanges amongst others
Karim Hajji noted that over the last two and a half decades ASEA has been resolute in its mission of being an enabler of African Securities Exchanges to become key economic and societal transformation drivers of the continent. “Undeniably for most of our African markets, the issue of liquidity and stimulating local investor participation still remain critical components that need to be addressed, we must remember that carefully cultivated liquidity allows investors to transfer risk to professional market makers via stable and reliable markets” he said In addition, Karim noted that more widespread adoption of electronic trading could further enhance liquidity and reduce transaction costs for market participants by providing additional platforms to match buyers and sellers.
“Such platforms will, in some cases, help reduce the time required to locate buyers and sellers and improve the process of price discovery, the upgrade of trading, clearing and settlement systems is extremely pertinent in boosting the liquidity of our capital markets as it allows investors to realize the value of their investments more freely,” he said. Furthermore, it was underscored that robust and efficient market infrastructure with fair and open access boost liquidity by making it safer and cheaper to trade, hold and value capital market securities.
Deliberations at the conference highlighted that although these platforms can assist, African markets can benefit immeasurably from the presence of professional liquidity providers willing to buy and sell and accept a transfer of risk from investors. Experts underscored important drivers of market development which are more closely linked to capital market-specific functions as firstly, the importance of focusing on global sustainability issues has which has been prompted by growth in innovative sustainability-themed capital market products, such as renewable energy investments, green bonds, social-impact bonds, and sustainable funds.
ASEA President who is also Chief Executive Officer of Morocco ‘s Casablanca Stock Exchange said this has been fueled by investors increasingly demonstrating a desire to align with major global frameworks particularly the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE). “Secondly, high quality and timely information is the lifeblood of effective and viable capital markets thus the provision of high-quality information at low cost through well-developed disclosure regimes gives investors the means to value securities,” he said.
He further explained that a broad and diversified investor base provides a source of stable demand that supports liquidity, depth and stability, therefore greater bi-directional openness to international investors and issuers expands the pool of savings and investment products as well as promoting implementation of international best practices and standards. Giving key note address World Bank Group Country Representative and Special Envoy to SADC Mr. Xavier Furtado said economic development requires healthy growth of a nation’s financial sector.
He shared that initially nations tended to channel their savings and investment primarily, if not almost exclusively, through banks noting that over time, savers in search of higher returns and firms seeking capital provide the foundation for the development of capital markets. Commending the increasing trend of issuance and trading of bills and bonds of national governments, followed by the issuance and trading of bonds and equities of publicly held corporations; Xavier however said capital markets cannot function effectively unless a number of elements are in place.
“Exchanges and clearing and settlement systems must exist to enable trading, and money market arrangements are needed to facilitate settlements,” he said. The SADC World Bank Boss further explained that a legal system must exist to enforce contracts, adding that information about the financial soundness and future prospects of companies must be made available on a timely basis to give investors’ confidence to purchase corporate instruments, both debt and equity.
Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Stock Exchange Thapelo Tsheole said it was his company and Botswana‘s great honor to have hosted the historic event. “An event like this cannot happen overnight, the wheels started rolling a year ago when the BSE won the bid to host this year’s conference which required rigorous planning and a bird’s eye view for detail.
The Conference was sponsored by Botswana Tourism Organization, BIHL Group amongst others. “We have been fortunate enough to be backed by a slew of generous sponsors and a team of highly motivated and dedicated colleagues at the Botswana Stock Exchange and the ASEA Secretariat who played their roles exceptionally well,” said Tsheole.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”