First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), the country’s largest commercial banking services outfit by market share ended their 2018/19 financial year on a high note raking a whooping P732,536 ,000 in profit after tax.
When presenting their audited consolidated summarised financial results to an audience of shareholders, stakeholders and members of the media in Gaborone on Wednesday, the bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steven Bogatsu said during the financial year focus was placed on improving credit discipline with concentrated efforts on the distressed debt portfolio.
“Additionally, priority was given to our customer-centric strategy through continued investment in infrastructure and digital customer solutions, to upgrade management of risk and liquidity, and to achieving prompt compliance with the continued introduction of new regulatory requirements,” he said. Zooming into financial highlights the bank realized 4 % growth in deposits, driven by increases in the call and current account portfolios. Statistics available as at May 2019 indicate a comparable twelve-month market growth of 12%.
Bogatsu explained that the bank’s level of participation in the market was appropriately managed by growing the transactional base for short term funding and keeping term deposits relatively flat year on year to match advances growth achieved. Gross customer advances registered a growth of 5% year-on-year. FNBB top brass say this increases was slightly behind the twelve-month market growth of 7% as at May 2019, and was largely driven by consumer term loans and asset-based finance on the back of the Government wage increase.
“We continue to manage our credit risk profile with high amortisation in higher risk business advances being largely offset by the growth in the lower risk corporate advances,” shared Bogatsu. NPLs remained relatively flat closing the year at P1.14billion, being a significant improvement on the P1.3 billion disclosed in the December half year 2018 results and indicating some success from our focus on credit discipline and accelerated collection processes. The Bank improved its efficient deployment of cash and short- term funds and increased its investment portfolio.
Giving an in-depth detailed account on the financial performance, FNBB Chief Finance Officer Luke Woodford said both profit before tax and profit after tax rose by 13% due to efficient management of all the key income and expense drivers resulting in an improved return on equity of 22.7% compared to 22.1% in 2018. Gross interest income increased by 7% against gross advances growth of 5%. Woodford explained that net interest income benefitted from a reclassification of interest in suspense between interest income and impairments in accordance with the implementation of IFRS 9.
“Interest earned on investments followed the increase in the investment portfolio, the benefits were partially offset by reduced average client rates driven by a change in the portfolio mix and compressed margins,” he said. The CFO further added that notwithstanding the rollover effect of the liquidity pressures experienced in the prior year, the interest expense increased by 7%, largely driven by a reduction in professional funding and by strong growth in the call and current deposits.
The impairment charge for the year showed a reduction of 3% against the prior year, following prudent credit extension and focus on the management of distressed advances. The stage 1 and stage 2 impairment charge of P42m reduced by 68% compared to the P110m prior year portfolio impairment charge, largely due to the prior year charge including significant downward revisions to the key provisioning assumptions. The stage 3 impairment charge increased by 17% following reductions in the expected realisable value of the collateral supporting the Home Loans, WesBank and Commercial portfolios.
Non-interest revenue grew by 7% in the year. This follows a 7% increase in the customer base and a successful roll-out of new products such as the savings pocket. The improved connectivity in the point-of-sale machines and an increase in machines in use, combined with the swipe-and-win campaign resulted in an 18% growth in card and merchant commissions. Revenue from foreign exchange grew by 15%, partly from volatility in the South African Rand.
An improvement in the cost-to-income ratio reflects continued cost management initiatives, with several expenditure items remaining flat year-on-year. Increasing resources in the collections department together with the overall annual salary review resulted in staff costs rising 7%, whilst other costs were well maintained at a 4% increase.
FNBB Boss explained that the capital management philosophy of the Bank is to maintain sound capital ratios to ensure confidence in the solvency and the quality of its capital during both calm and turbulent periods in the economy and in the financial markets. “We therefore, aim to maintain capital ratios aligned to its risk appetite and appropriate to safeguarding its operations and stakeholder interests,” he said.
For the financial year ended 30 June 2019, FNBB continued to operate above the regulatory minimum capital adequacy ratios. As at the end of the financial year, the total capital adequacy ratio was 17.42% and is above the regulatory minimum of 15.00%.
The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”
Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.
In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.
Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.
Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.
“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.