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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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Business

Slight growth in GDP as economy battles return

28th July 2021
Peggy-Serame

Botswana’s economy showed slight growth signs in the first quarter of 2021, following a devastating year in 2020.

During 2020, the entire second quarter was on zero economic activity as the country went on total lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Diamond trade plummeted to record low levels as global travel restrictions halted movement of both goods and people and muted trade.

The end result was a significant decline for the local economy, at an estimated 7 percent contraction, just marginally below the 2008/09 global financial crises.

According to figures released by Statics Botswana this week, the country’s nominal Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2021 was P47.739 billion compared to a revised P45.630 billion registered during the previous quarter.

This represents a quarterly increase of 4.6 percent in nominal terms between the two periods.

During the quarter, Public Administration and Defence became the major contributor to GDP by 18.4 percent, followed by Wholesale & Retail by 11.4 percent. The contribution of other sectors was below 6.0 percent, with Water and Electricity Supply being the lowest at 1.6 percent.

Real GDP for the first quarter of 2021 increased by 0.7 percent compared to a contraction of 4.6 percent registered in the previous quarter.

The improvement in the first quarter 2021 GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The real GDP increased by 0.7 percent during the period under review, compared to an increase of 1.2 percent in the same quarter of 2020.

The recovery in the domestic economy was observed across majority of industries except Accommodation & Food Services, Mining & Quarrying, Manufacturing, Construction, Other Services and Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing.

The overall slow performance of the economy was mainly due to the impact of measures that were put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Non-mining GDP increased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 4.0 percent increase registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry decreased by 2.0 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, relative to a contraction of 5.2 percent registered during the same quarter of 2020.

The main driver of the unfavorable performance stems from a decrease in real value added of Livestock farming by 3.0 percent.

Mining and Quarrying registered a decrease 11.4 percent in the real value added, this was mainly influenced by the drop in the Gold and Diamond real value added by 17.5 and 12.5 percent respectively.

Diamond production in carats went down by 12.1 percent while the tonnage of Gold produced went down by 17.5 percent.

The poor performance of the diamond sub-industry is attributed to the reduction in production due to a lower grade feed to the plant at Orapa in response to heavy rainfall and operational issues, including continued power supply disruptions.

With regard to Gold is due to diminishing resource base which affect production.

The Manufacturing industry recorded a decline of 7.4 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, compared to a decrease of 2.3 percent registered in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The deep low performance in the industry is observed in the two major sub-industries of Beverages & tobacco and Diamond cutting, polishing and setting by 57.0 and 38.5 percent respectively.

The reduction in Beverages is attributed to alcohol sale ban imposed during the quarter under review in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, exports of polished diamonds went down by 24.9 percent compared to a decrease of 11.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

The construction industry recorded a decline of 4.8 percent compared to an increase of 4.3 percent realized in the corresponding quarter in 2020.

This industry comprises of buildings construction, civil engineering and specialized construction activities. The industry is still showing signs of the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic. The industry recorded a negative growth of 7.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Water and Electricity Water and Electricity value added at constant 2016 prices for the first quarter of 2021 was P506.2 million compared to P378.2 million registered in the same quarter of 2020, recording a growth of 33.8 percent.

In the first quarter of 2021, Electricity recorded a significant growth of 62.4 percent compared to a decrease of 67.6 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The local electricity production increased by 22.4 percent while Electricity imports decreased by 33.3 percent during quarter under review. The water industry recorded a value added of P231.3 million compared to P209.0 million registered in the same quarter of the previous year, registering an increase of 10.7 percent.

Wholesale and Retail Trade real value added increased by 11.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to an increase of 5.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The industry deals with sales of fast moving consumer goods.

Diamond Traders recorded a significant growth of 112.7 percent as opposed to a decline of 22.7 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter last year. The positive growth is due to improved demand of diamonds from the global market.

The Transport and Storage value added increased by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a 2.4 percent increase recorded in the same quarter of the previous year.

The slight improved performance of the industry was mainly attributed to the increase in real value added of Road Transport and Post & Courier Services by 4.3 and 2.1 percent respectively.

The slow growth was influenced by a significant reduction in Air Transport services of 69.7 percent due to reduced number of passengers carried. Rail goods traffic in tonnes went down by 6.4 percent and passenger rail transport was not operating during the quarter under review.

Accommodation and Food Services Accommodation and Food Services real value added declined by 31.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a decrease of 4.4 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The reduction is largely attributed to a decrease of 42.1 percent in real value added of the Accommodation activities subindustry.

The suspension of air travel occasioned by Covid-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering the borders of the country and hence affecting the output of Hotels and Restaurants industry. COVID-19 restriction measures resulted in reduced demand for leisure and conferencing activities, as conferences are largely held through virtual platforms.

Finance, Insurance and Pension Funding industry registered a positive growth of 8.3 percent due to the favorable performance from monetary intermediation and Central Banking Services by 16.4 and 5.4 percent respectively during quarter under review.

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Business

Chobe Holdings secures P16 million for dark days

28th July 2021
Chobe Holdings

It is still tough in the tourism industry — big players in this sleeping giant are not having it easy, but options are being explored to keep the once vibrant multibillion Pula sector alive until the world gets back to normalcy.

One of the primary measures against the spread of Covid-19 is to stay home; this widely pronounced precaution against the global contagion that has claimed over 4 million lives across the world is however a thorn in the flesh of one of the major industries in the global economy — the tourism sector .

This sector is underpinned by travel – an act which is the virus‘ number one mode of spread, especially across borders.

Chobe Holdings Limited, one of Botswana’s leading high end eco-tourism giants said its survival strategies are underpinned by well-crafted stakeholder engagements in the mist of these unprecedented times of muted trading activity.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Chobe continued to invest in and strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders in both its traditional markets and the SADC region,” the company directors updated shareholders this week.

To keep the business afloat, the company which owns and operates some of the exquisite tourism destinations along the banks of the mighty Chobe said it has triggered its existing available debt financing avenues.

Chobe revealed that its current overdraft of BWP 25 million has been extended on favourable terms.

The company shared that it has negotiated a further USD 1.5 million (over P16 million) standby loan with a flexible settlement terms and preferable cost implications to the bottom line.

“We are confident that the Group has sufficient cash inflows, cash reserves and un-utilized prearranged borrowing in place to settle any liabilities falling due and support the smooth recovery of operations in the short and medium term,” the company directors said, noting that they will retain the flexibility to vary operations should market conditions change.

Early this year, Chobe announced that the ongoing crisis in the tourism industry forced the company to draw from its prearranged overdraft facility of P25 million to the extent of P11.6 million.

Last year Chobe’s occupancy levels around its lodges and hotels went down 89 percent. This resulted in unprecedented revenue decline of 93% to P27.78 million from the P373.94 million in the previous year ended February 2020.

Operating profits went down 159% with profit after tax down 170%, mirroring a loss of over P67 million.

Chobe management said during the last half of the financial year they have done all they could to contain costs across the company’s operations.

During the last half of the year Chobe’s marketing and reservations teams continued to pursue the “don’t cancel but defer policy”.

“We thus continue to hold advance travel receipts, to the value of about P34 million at the financial year end,” the company revealed early this year.

Chobe said it continues to engage Government, through HATAB and BTO to prioritize the vaccination of workers in the tourism sector.

“Throughout the pandemic we have ensured that employees are trained in and comply with COVID-19 infection mitigation protocols as well as ensuring that all visitors to our remote camps and lodges as well as our staff and contractors are tested for COVID-19 before reaching the camp or lodges,” the company said.

However, the company said vaccinating the tourism staff will provide the best way to ensure that both employees and guests are protected from the virus.

“We continue to manage our cashflow through stringent cost control measures, balanced against the protection of the Group’s physical assets and the wellbeing and retention of its people,” the company said.

Chobe has successfully retained its top management through the pandemic.  To this end the company directors continue to closely monitor the Group’s recovery from COVID-19 and adjust salary reductions to support operations and aid retention.

Domestic and regional travel resumed during the second quarter of the 2020/21 financial year with the Group opening a strategic mix of camps and lodges.

A comprehensive domestic, regional and international marketing plan was put in place to support these openings.

International travel resumed in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year with occupancies forecast to steadily increase, albeit from a low base, through the second quarter.

The company is optimistic that forward bookings are strong for the 2022/23 financial year.

“There is pent-up demand from our traditional source markets to travel now, but this is tempered by uncertainty and access constraints,” the company stated.

“Both the domestic and international markets are sensitive to such uncertainty, and it is critical that both the private and public sector work together to develop and publish clear, authoritative and consistent travel information in order to build confidence”

Chobe entered the pandemic with the Shinde camp rebuild in progress — one of its high end camps and this was completed in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year accounting for the majority of the Group’s capital expenditure for that period.

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Business

De Beers Q2 production jumps in response to strong rough diamond demand

28th July 2021
De-Beers -jwaneng-mine

De Beers Group, the world’s leading rough diamonds producer by value and Botswana’s partner in the diamond business, ramped up its production in the second quarter of 2021, in response to stronger demand for rough diamonds in the global markets.

The London headquartered diamond mining giant revealed in its production report this week that rough diamonds output  increased by 134% to 8.2 million carats in the three(3) months  of quarter 2 2021, “reflecting planned higher production to meet stronger demand for rough diamonds”.

This was against the backdrop of curtailed demand in the same quarter last year, mirroring the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns across southern Africa during that period.

In Botswana, where De Beers sources majority of its rough diamonds through partly government owned Debswana, production increased by 214% to 5.7 million carats. The percentage jump mirrored planned low production in the second quarter of 2020 where output was adjusted to market demands and implemented Covid-19 protocols.

Debswana operates four (4) Mines: Jwaneng Mine- being its flagship producer and largest revenue contributor. Jwaneng Mine which is the wealthiest diamond mine in the world by value is envisaged for multi-billion expansion to an underground operation in future to stretch its existence by few more decades.

The underground project which is anticipated to cost a whooping P65 billion will be the world‘s largest underground diamond mine.

The company which accounts for over 65 % of De Beers’s global production also operates Orapa Mine- one of the world’s largest by area, Letlhakane Mine currently a tailings treatment operation and Damtshaa Mine which is under care and maintenance following market shrink in 2020.

Namibia production decreased by 6% to 0.3 million carats, primarily due to planned maintenance of the Mafuta vessel which was completed in the quarter and another vessel remaining demobilized.  In Namibia De Beers sources diamonds both in land and marine through Namdeb and Debmarine respectfully.

In South Africa-the spiritual home ground of De Beers Group, production increased by 130% to 1.3 million carats, due to planned treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the Venetia open pit, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown in Q2 2020.

Production in Canada increased by 14% to 0.9 million carats, primarily reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 measures implemented in Q2 2020.

De Beers said consumer demand for polished diamonds continued to recover, leading to strong demand for rough diamonds from midstream cutting and polishing centers, despite the impact on capacity from the severe Covid-19 wave in India during April and May.

Rough diamond sales totaled 7.3 million carats (6.5 million carats on a consolidated basis), from two Sights, reflecting the impact of the reduced Indian midstream capacity on Sight 4, compared with 0.3 million carats (0.2 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two Sights in Q2 2020, and 13.5 million carats (12.7 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three Sights in Q1 2021.

The H1 2021 consolidated average realized price increased by 13% to $135/ct (H1 2020: $119/ct), driven by an increased proportion of higher value rough diamonds sold.

While the average price index remained broadly flat, the closing index increased by 14% compared to the start of 2021, reflecting tightness in inventories across the diamond value chain as well as positive consumer demand for polished diamonds.

Full Year Guidance Production guidance is tightened to 32–33 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats (100% bases)), subject to trading conditions and the extent of any further Covid-19 related disruptions.

When commenting to 2021 quarter 2 production figures, Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American- De Beers parent, said the entire Anglo American Group delivered a solid operational performance supported by comprehensive Covid-19 measures to help safeguard the lives and livelihoods of its workforce and host communities.

“We have generally maintained operating levels at approximately 95% of normal capacity and, as a consequence, production increased by 20% compared to Q2 of last year, with planned higher rough diamond production at De Beers” he said.

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