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Transport sector performs below par in Q1 2019

Statistics Botswana’s transport and infrastructure brief indicates that the sector performed extremely poorer in the first quarter of 2019. The sector consists of air, water and railway transport as well as motor vehicle registrations.

A total of 14,795 aircraft movements were recorded for Q1 2019, which was a 24.3 percent decrease compared to Q4 2018. The bulk of aircraft movements were domestic, which constituted 70.9 percent of the total aircraft movements while international aircraft movements accounted for the remaining 29.1 percent. In comparison to the same quarter of the previous year, Q1 2018, total aircraft movements decreased by 5.7 percent, international movements increased by 6.3 percent while domestic movements decreased by 9.9 percent.

Air transport gives the movement of aircrafts and air passengers both locally and internationally. The movements are categorised into scheduled, non-scheduled and private movements. Scheduled aircrafts refers to commercial airlines operating on a time table while non-scheduled aircrafts refers to commercial aircrafts which do not have to operate using a time table but operate as and when needed. Private movements refers to non-commercial individual aircrafts.


In Q1 2019 most aircraft movements were non-scheduled movements, they accounted for 67.7% percent of total movements. Scheduled and private movements accounted for 28.3 percent and 3.9 percent of total aircraft movements recorded respectively. In comparison to the previous quarter, Q4 2018, all the types of movements recorded a decrease. Non-scheduled movements registered a decrease of 30 percent. Scheduled and private movements decreased by 6.4 and 32. 1% respectively. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, only scheduled movements registered an increase of 7.6% while private and non-scheduled movements decreased by 10.4 and 5,1% respectively.

In Q1 2019, non-scheduled arrivals and departures accounted for 34 and 33.9% respectively to total aircraft movements. Scheduled movements both arrivals and departures constituted the largest proportion in international aircraft movements while non-scheduled movements dominated in domestic aircraft movements. Scheduled flights made up 74.2 percent of total aircraft movements while non-scheduled flights accounted for 87 percent of total domestic aircraft movements.

Most of aircraft movements were recorded in Maun, with 57.2% of total aircraft movements, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport accounted for 27% of total aircraft movements making it the second highest aircraft movements. Ghanzi and Selibe-Phikwe airports received the least number of aircraft movements constituting only 0.1% each. The month of March registered most aircraft movements, with 40% of the total. January and February accounted for 31.4% and 29% of total aircraft movements respectively.

During the quarter under review, most of the international movements were recorded at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport with 70% of total international aircraft movements. Maun airport handled mostly domestic movements, accounting for 74% of the domestic movements. Compared to the previous quarter, Q4 2018, in international movements, only two airports namely Ghanzi and Selibe-Phikwe registered an increase, while the other airports recorded a decrease. In domestic movements, all airports recorded a decrease, with the most notable decline at Selibe-Phikwe airport (57%). This may be due to the fact that Selibe-Phikwe and Ghanzi airports only deal with private aircrafts.

During the quarter under review, 179,843 air passenger movements were recorded. This was a decrease of 20% compared to those recorded in the previous quarter. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q1 2018, Q1 2019 recorded an increase of 6% in air passenger movements. International movements contributed 60% to total passenger movements and the remaining 40% were domestic movements.

Scheduled passenger flights accounted for 81% of total air passenger movements while non-scheduled and private passenger flights contributed 18.1% and 1% respectively. When compared to the previous quarter, Q4 2018, all the three types of flights recorded a decrease; private passenger flights recorded a decrease of 26 percent, while scheduled and non-scheduled flight movements decreased by 15% and 40% respectively.

Motor vehicle registration deals with licensing of vehicle with respect to those registered for the first time and renewal pf pre-existing ones. A total of 13 thousand vehicles were registered for the first time in Q1 2019. This was a decrease of 11.7% compared to the previous quarter, Q4 2018. Most of the vehicles registered for the first time were passenger cars accounting for 74.5%, followed by vans with 10%. Motor cycles were registered the least number of first registrations with 0.4%. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q1 2018, vehicles registered for the first time increased by 6%.

Most of the first registrations done in Q1 2019 were used vehicles constituting 80% of total first registrations. Brand new and rebuilt vehicles accounted for 20% and 0.1% respectively. The highest number of firstly registered vehicles were imported from Japan with 72% of the total first registrations. Out of these, 99.5% were used vehicles and only 0.5% were new. South Africa followed with 19.5 percent of total imported vehicles with 84 percent of those vehicles being new.

Singapore was the third in line of those countries from which Botswana imports vehicles, it accounted for 3% of total first registrations. Most of the new vehicles were imported from South Africa which accounted for 84% of total brand new vehicles. Vehicles bought in Botswana followed with 7%. Brand new vehicles from Japan and Korea accounted for 1.9% each. Rebuilt vehicles originated from only three countries; Botswana at 72 percent, Japan 18 percent and United Kingdom at 9%.

In Q1 2019, Gaborone accounted for a high number of first registrations with 67% of total first registrations, Francistown followed with 9.2% of total vehicles registered for the first time. Lobatse recorded 5 percent, Ramotswa 4.0% while Molepolole and Maun registered 3.6 and 2.8% respectively. Most of the registration stations recorded a decrease in vehicles registered for the first time in Q1 2019 compared to Q4 201. Vehicles registered for the first time in Gaborone went down by 8.7%, Francistown registered a 12% decrease. The most notable decrease was in Bobonong with 83%. Other registration stations with high decreases were Tsabong with 65%, Kang 57% and Gumare with 50%

Toyota proved to be the most popular motor vehicle make, registering 40% of total first registrations.it was followed by Honda with 13%, VW was the third favourite make registering 9% of total first registrations. Mazda and Nissan registered 7.7 and 6.7% of total first registrations respectively. Massey Ferguson was the favourite make for tractors. It constituted 59% of the total registered tractors. Home-made vehicles contributed 31% of the total registered trailers.

Compared to the previous quarter Q4 2018, Q1 2019 showed a decline in most makes of vehicles. Toyota recorded a 13% decrease in first registrations while Madza and VW declined by 30 and 9% respectively. Nissan declined by 4% in Q1 2019 compared to vehicles registered in Q4 2018. In Q1 2019 most of the registrations were done in the month of March which accounted for 37% of total first registrations. The months of January and February constituted 31 and 32% respectively. Compared to the same months of the previous year, Q1 2018, January increased by 11%, while February and March registrations increased by 7.7 and 1.2% respectively.

A total of 306 thousand net tonnes were transported using rail in Q1 2019 which was a 16.1 percent decrease from goods transported in Q4 2018. Goods transported by rail in Q1 2019 decreased in most categories compared to Q4 2018. Total imports decreased by 24% and total exports decreased by 17%. Local traffic went down by 2.2% while Botswana total declined by 18%. An increase was realized in transit traffic which went up by 94% percent. Transit traffic is not marketed, so it is up to people who transport goods to other countries if they want to use Botswana rail or not, that is why transit traffic is not consistent. Compared to the same quarter at the previous years, goods transported by rail in Q1 2018 decreased by 27%.

Total revenue of P62.6 Million was generated in Q1 2019, showing an increase of 13.4% from what was generated in the previous quarter, Q4 2018. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q1 2019 registered a decline of 27.3% in revenue generated. Most of the revenue generated in Q1 2019 came from Botswana total which accounted for 96.3% of total revenue. Revenue generated from Botswana Origin goods made up to 61.4% of total revenue while revenue from Total Exports and total imports constituted 45% and 35% of total revenue respectively.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

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.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

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.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

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”

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