Moody’s a US based international finance and economic commentator says Sub Saharan Africa is today in more debts than it was half a decade ago, the New York headquartered agency said in a report this week.
The Moody’s report shows that while most Sub-Saharan African countries plan to consolidate their budgets to stabilize debt, they are now more vulnerable to shocks and negative financing because they are in a weaker fiscal position than five years ago. “Expenditure cuts are often less complex to implement quickly than revenue-raising measures," said David Rogovic, Moody's Vice President – Senior Analyst and the report's co-author. "The credit risks associated with lack of spending flexibility are most pronounced where it coincides with higher debt burdens and for those whose fiscal metrics are more vulnerable to shocks." He said
These debt burdens according to Rogovic are now higher than just five years ago making Sub Saharan African countries more vulnerable and with less capacity to employ countercyclical fiscal policy to absorb future shocks. According to the report, spending flexibility varies across the region. In particular Moody’s says Angola, one of Africa’s largest economies and Gabon, have less expenditure flexibility today, as past fiscal consolidation relied more on discretionary spending than mandatory spending, while higher interest payments also increase the share of mandatory spending in the government's spending mix.
With Zambia, the regions copper mining giant, higher capital expenditures to finance public investment has led to more expenditure flexibility today, though there is a sharp increase in external borrowing. Moody’s says high wage bills constrain spending flexibility in Namibia, and South Africa while high share of spending directed towards transfers and subsidies constrain expenditure flexibility in Mauritius and South Africa, whereas Ghana’s rigid spending structure reflects a high interest bill. Rwanda, Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire were also noted to have greatest spending flexibility
The continent’s largest and most populated country Nigeria was observed to have relatively less flexibility to cut spending. Moody’s says analysis and observation at the oil rich country are captured in particular on spending at the federal government level, where interest makes up a relatively large share of total spending.
In the event of shocks, spending flexibility – defined as countries' scope to cut government spending rapidly and significantly – allows sovereigns to broadly adhere to their plans and lends resiliency to fiscal strength. Based on Moody's assessment of the proportion of mandatory spending relative to the regional average, Rwanda, Cameroon & Cote d'Ivoire has the most flexible spending structures.
Credit risks associated with lack of spending flexibility are most pronounced where it coincides with higher debt burdens and susceptibility to financing shocks. For Namibia and Ghana, rigid expenditure combines with other fiscal weaknesses to increase downward pressures on fiscal strength and their credit profiles from shocks. Meanwhile, higher-than-average spending flexibility in Rwanda and Cameroon mitigates some of the risks associated with a rising government debt burden, if governments are willing and able to use that flexibility in the face of a shock.
By contrast, mandatory spending accounts for over 80% of total spending in Namibia, Mauritius, South Africa and Ghana. For Namibia and Ghana, rigid expenditure combines with other fiscal weaknesses to increase pressure from shocks on their fiscal strength and credit profiles. In the regional entirety Moody’s says expenditure cuts are often easier to implement quickly than revenue-raising measures. Fiscal strength will likely be more resilient for those with capacity to cut expenditure quickly and significantly in the face of a shock.
As a developing region comprising of mostly low middle income economies, with wide inequality and significant poverty in some parts, Sub Saharan Africa is currently battling with uphill task of transforming their countries. Lack of adequate Infrastructure has been and is still currently one of the leading impeding factors.
Africa has been on attempts to solve this problem embarked on an external borrowing wave to resource their infrastructure development budgets, a move that landed the continents’ leaders in China, the world most populated country and second largest economy. Last year at China- Africa Forum , the country announced it would reserved $60 billion for Africa .
Chinese President said the funds would be channeled to projects aligned to the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative covering telecommunications, construction of roads, bridges and sea ports, energy, and human capacity development. The money which will be spent in the next 3 years entails $15 billion being categorized as government grants, $15 billion as interest free loans and 20 billion dollars of credit lines and USD 5 billion for financing imports from Africa.
In Botswana President Masisi boasts that China has extended a grant amounting to P340 million to the government of Botswana, adding into 136 million pula grant already extended to Government of Botswana announced for the construction of Kazungula Primary School in the Chobe district. The grants come with an overly criticized loan to Botswana amounting to over P10 billion to used for amongst other Mosetse –Kazungula Railways. The Africa- China bromance has not landed well with the Western power, US lenders in particular say Africa is entrapping itself in miscalculated external borrowing that just increases its debt burden.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.