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GDP swells

The year 2019 started with positive growth in the economy albeit at a slower pace.  Even though mining production increased in the first quarter of 2019 it was not the major factor in the swelling Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as is always expected, according to Statistic Botswana. The national statistics agency also reveals a rise in generation of electricity for the first quarter of the year.

According to Statistics Botswana, when looking at the GDP crossover between years of 2018 and 2019, a narrow increase of 0.5 percent was realized. This is the estimated GDP at current prices for the first quarter of 2019 which was P48, 728.9 million compared to P48, 491.6 million registered in the fourth quarter of 2018. The statistical release contains the first quarter of 2019 Gross Domestic Product estimates by economic activity and components of final demand at current and constant prices.

According to the national statistics custodian, during the quarter under review, Trade, Hotels & Restaurants remained the major contributor to GDP by 19.1 percent. The mining and quarrying which was placed with General Government and Finance & Business services at 16.6, 14.5 and 14.3 percent respectively trailed behind the named top contributors of the GDP. Other sectors contribution was below 6.7 percent with Water & Electricity being the lowest at 1.2 percent.

Statistics Botswana says Real Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2019 increased by 4.3 percent and this increase was attributed to the significant growth in real value added of Transport & Communications and Trade, Hotels & Restaurants and industries by 5.9 and 5.7 percent respectively.

Transport and Communications value added increased by 5.9 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to Statistics Botswana and growth was mainly attributed to the increase in real value added of Post & Communications, Air transport and Road Transport by 7.6, 6.2 and 5.6 percent respectively. According to Statistics Botswana, Trade, Hotels and Restaurants real value added increased by 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a decrease of 2.0 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

This recorded positive growth is attributed to an increase in real value added of Retail Trade, Hotels & Restaurants and Vehicle Dealers sub industries by 7.1, 6.2 and 4.7 percent respectively. In the first quarter of 2019 Airport Junction undergone rapid expansion and this is said by Statistics Botswana to have been vital in boosting the increase in the Retail Trade value added. New mall around the county were also opened in this quarter of the year also contributing to increase in the Retail Trade Value hence the growth in GDP.

Despite being admired as one of the biggest participant of the local economy Banks was trailing behind at 5.8 percent while Business Services and Real Estate each scored 6.4 and 6.2 percent respectively while contributing in the 5.4 percent increase in the real value added of the Finance and Business Services industry.

The Manufacturing real value added increased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to an increase of 4.6 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year, according to Statistics Botswana. This depiction rounds up an increase in real value added of Other Manufacturing and Beverages sub industries by 4.8 and 1.5 percent respectively. Other Manufacturing comprises of all manufacturing entities except those dealing with Production, processing & preserving of meat, Beverages, Textiles and Leather & leather products. Also, the Other Manufacturing sub industry includes diamond cutting and polishing value added.

In mining whose real value added increased by 3.3 percent was driven by Soda Ash. In production of these two minerals, Soda Ash produced the most with 14.3 percent increase in tonnes while diamond production in carats rose by 3.3 percent. This all happened in the first quarter of 2019. Debswana production increased by 2.0 percent and this was spiked by 12.0 percent increase in production at Jwaneng mine. Orapa was once again an impediment in diamond production

Soda AshThe increase in the real value added of Mining by 3.3 percent was mainly driven by Soda Ash and Diamond value added. Soda Ash production in tonnes went up by 14.3 percent while Diamond production in carats rose by 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to an increase of 11.6 percent recorded in the same quarter of 2018. Debswana production increased by 2.0 percent and this was driven by Jwaneng production which increased by 12.0 percent. Orapa production decreased by 7.0 percent as a result of plant shut down in March 2019. According to Statistics Botswana, non-mining GDP increased by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 3.7 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

The Water and Electricity value added at constant 2006 prices for the first quarter of 2019 was P266.2 million compared to P256.3 million registered in the same quarter of 2018, recording an increase of 3.9 percent, according to Statistics Botswana.  The national statistics centre says in the first quarter of 2019, Electricity recorded a positive value added of P31.0 million compared to P30.1 million registered in the same quarter of 2018 leading to a positive growth of 3.0 percent.

Statistics Botswana said the increase in the electricity real value added is attributed to a rise in the local electricity production by 13.8 percent. This depiction also sees imports of Electricity going down by 31.8 percent during the first quarter of this year. According to Statistics Botswana, the significant increase in local Electricity production were largely attributed to improved performance of the Morupule B Power Station with a view to meet the country’s electricity demand.

 Electricity Generation increases

According to Statistics Botswana, the Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) stood at 184.8 during the first quarter of 2019, reflecting a year-on year increase of 13.8 percent compared to 162.3 recorded during the corresponding quarter in 2018. The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows an increase of 71.5 percent, from 107.7 during the fourth quarter of 2018 to 184.8 during the current quarter.

This statistical brief is intended to apprise on Electricity Generation, Importation and Distribution by presenting Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Volumes as well as Indices for Electricity Generation in Botswana. Also included are Year-on-Year and Quarter-on-Quarter Percentage Changes in Indices of Electricity Generation from 2009 to the first quarter of 2019. In subsequent sections of this report, emphasis will be on the first quarter of 2019, compared to the fourth quarter in 2018, and the corresponding quarter in 2018.

This report uses 2013 as the base year. The release further shows changes in the volume of electricity generation in a given period against the base year (2013), and hence provides a reflection of the trend in the local electricity sector. Statistics Botswana also studies the local generation and imported electricity to come up with electricity that is available for distribution in Botswana. This does not take into account electricity used for auxiliary services, pumping, network losses as well as production of electricity through incineration of waste, according to Statistics Botswana.

An increase of 0.6 percent (6,068 MWH), from 959,650 MWH during the first quarter of 2018 to 965,718 MWH during the first quarter of 2019 was recorded by Statistics Botswana. From a quarter-on-quarter perspective, distributed electricity increased by 0.3 percent (2,482 MWH), from 963,235 MWH during the fourth quarter of 2018 to 965,718 MWH during the quarter under review, according to Statistics Botswana.

Electricity generated locally contributed 80.4 percent to electricity distributed during the first quarter of 2019, compared to a contribution of 71.1 percent during the same quarter in 2018, according to the statistics parastatal, this gives an increase of 9.3 percentage points. According to Statistics Botswana, on the other hand, a quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of electricity generated to electricity distributed during the current quarter increased by 33.4 percentage points compared to the 47.0 percent contribution of locally generated electricity during the fourth quarter of 2018.

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Pan-African risk advisor Minet Group and Botswana’s Africa Lighthouse Capital acquire Aon Botswana

21st May 2021
Pan-African-risk-advisor-Minet-Group-

Strategic partnership offers inherent benefits of global knowledge, African insights, and local expertise and commitment

Minet Group and Africa Lighthouse Capital today announced that they have received regulatory approval and fulfilled all requirements to acquire Aon’s shareholding in Aon Botswana, and consequently will begin the process to rebrand to Minet Botswana.

Minet Group is a well-known and trusted pan-African risk advisory firm and Aon’s largest Global Network Correspondent and has been rapidly expanding its African footprint since 2017 through the acquisition of operations from global professional services firm Aon in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.   Minet has been delivering world class products and services across Africa for over 70 years.

Africa Lighthouse Capital (ALC) is a leading Botswana citizen-owned private equity firm focused on investing in Botswana companies and propelling them into regional champions, with over BWP 500 million in funds under management.

The new entity will be rebranded to Minet and will inherit deeply rooted respect by its clients for their innovative and locally relevant solutions, responsiveness, and efficient processes. Furthermore, it shall have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Barnabas Mavuma, previously Managing Director of Aon Botswana, continuing to lead the business as the MD supported by the local management team.

 “The addition of Minet Botswana to our growing African network affirms our belief in the great opportunities for growth that Africa offers, driven by rising consumer demand, huge investment in infrastructure and quick adoption of new technology,” says Joe Onsando, CEO at Minet Group.

“This transaction significantly adds to the diversity and skills base of our team and will have a positive impact on the range of products and services we provide. Our Correspondent agreement with Aon gives us access to global expertise and data driven insights and uniquely positions us to deliver risk advisory solutions that reduce volatility, thus driving improved performance for our clients. This is a very exciting time to be Minet in Africa.”

“The significantly increased Botswana citizen shareholding effected by this transaction gives rise to an exciting era of local market focus and growth for Minet Botswana,” says Bame Pule, Founder and CEO of Africa Lighthouse Capital.  “We intend to work with Minet Botswana’s local management team to further localise the business in terms of product development, while at the same time investing in local skills development and business development.  We look forward to this exciting journey, which will result in a significantly enhanced service offering for Minet Botswana’s clients.”

Consequently, and similar to the other members of the Minet Group, Minet Botswana becomes an Aon Global Network Correspondent, retaining its access to Aon’s resources, technology, and best practises, combined with the benefit of independent, local agility. This transaction furthermore significantly increases local shareholding, enabling operations to become even nimbler and better positioned to unlock new and existing growth opportunities.

Clients of Minet Botswana will experience continuity of product and service delivery standards in the short term. In the near future, they can expect an enhanced offering that combines agility with technology and product innovation, tailormade for their specific needs.

Together, Minet and ALC bring a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance, and an established track record in the region. These qualities, combined with Aon’s global capabilities and expertise, will bring clear benefits for clients.

This transaction vastly increases citizen ownership with shareholders who are going to be active in the business. The transfer of equity interests in Botswana to investors with local and regional expertise, presence and commitment will allow the businesses to move quickly in line with market movements, and to introduce products that are tailored to the local market.

“Minet’s commitment and drive to incessantly adapt to changing market conditions, and to innovate to meet the unique insurance demands of the African continent, while maintaining the high standards customers have come to expect – Onsando concludes – will continue to grow and give Minet a powerful competitive edge within the African market”.

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Africa scores $285 Billion IMF deal

21st May 2021
IMF-Managing-Director-Kristalina-Georgieva

French President Emmanuel Macron received 21 Heads of state and government officials from Africa during the recent summit on the Financing of African Economies that focused on Africa to take full advantage of the tectonic shifts in the global economy and the call for a joint effort for financial and vaccination support for the continent.

President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Most regions of the world are now launching massive post-pandemic recovery plans, using their huge monetary and fiscal instruments. But most African economies suffer the lack of adequate capacities and such instruments to do the same. We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind.

We, the Leaders participating to the Summit, in the presence of international organizations, share the responsibility to act together and fight the great divergence that is happening between countries and within countries.

This requires collective action to build a very substantial financial package, to provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as the means to invest for a better future. Our ambition is to address immediate financing needs, to strengthen the capacity of African governments to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery and to reinforce the vibrant African private sector, as a long-term growth driver for Africa.”

For her part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva highlighted that “there is urgency to focus on financing Africa. Last year, the pandemic-caused recession shrank the GDP of the Continent by 1.9 percent – the worst performance on record. This year, we project global growth at 6 percent, but only half that 3.2 percent for Africa.” Adding that Africa needs to grow faster than the world at 7 to 10 percent to meet the aspirations of its youthful populations, and become more prosperous and more secure.

Georgieva revealed that the price tag on the shot is estimated to be “$285 billion through 2025. Of this $135 billion is for low-income countries. This is the bare minimum. To do more – to get African nations back on their previous path of catching up with wealthy countries – will cost roughly twice as much. These are large numbers. They may seem out of reach. But to quote Nelson Mandela: impossible until it is done.”

The main areas of interest to achieve this include; first, end the pandemic everywhere, 40 percent of the population of all countries is targeted to get vaccinated by the end of 2021, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022.

Second, bilateral and multilateral development financing grants and concessional loans ought to go up. Over the last year, the IMF have swiftly ramped their financing for the Continent, including providing 13 times their average annual lending to sub-Saharan Africa. And are working to do much more. The IMF has also received support to increase access limits so they can scale up their zero-interest lending capacity through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

The IMF has also devised exceptional measures. Their membership backs an unprecedented new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $650 billion, by far the largest in their history. Once approved, which is intended to be achieved by the end of August, it will directly and immediately make about $33 billion available to African members. It will boost their reserves and liquidity, without adding to their debt burden.

Over the course of the last year, the IMF has built experience in facilitating the on lending of SDRs – thus managing to triple their concessional lending capacity as a result.

The Third being, actions at home. According to Georgieva “a crisis is an opportunity for transformational domestic reforms that increase domestic revenue, improve public services, and strengthen governance. For instance, digitalization can improve tax administration and revenue collection, and the quality of public spending. And with radical transparency, Africa can tap into new sources of finance – such as carbon offsets.

There is ample scope for countries to encourage private investment, including in social and physical infrastructure. New IMF research, published today, highlights that domestic and international investors could provide at least 3 percent of GDP per year of additional financing by the end of this decade.”

Reforms of international taxation can also support Africa’s growth. For a long time, the IMF has been in favor of minimum corporate tax rates to reduce the race to the bottom and tax avoidance. And they strongly support an international agreement on digital tax, something France has been a leading voice for. It is important to secure fair distribution of tax revenues, so they can contribute to closing Africa’s financial gap.

Georgieva called on to each and every one to step up. Reminding the attendees that from history they are all familiar with what a shock of this magnitude can do if not countered forcefully and effectively.

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Indian COVID-19 variant hits Botswana diamond sales

20th May 2021
Indian-Covid--19-variant-hit-rough-diamonds-sales---De-Beers-

De Beers’ Group, the world’s number one diamond producer by value, this week attributed the downfall of its sales for the fourth cycle week to the second wave of the Covid-19 variant (B.1.617.2) which was first discovered in India.

Diamond trading conditions have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis in India which is a major cutting and polishing centre for the world’s diamond trade.

The outbreak of the new variant has led to a humanitarian crisis with 280, 284 fatalities of the disease reported.

The London headquartered company said the sales in its fourth cycle fell to $380m (about P4.1 billion) down from $450m (about P4.8 billion) in the third cycle though it was higher than the fifth cycles of last year when the group shifted only $56m (P600 million).

De Beers emphasized that they continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

The De Beers group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver said the company continues to see robust demand for diamond jewellery in the key US and China consumer markets.

“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” said Cleaver.

Meanwhile Botswana health officials have confirmed the new Covid-19 variant in Botswana. The Ministry of Health and Wellness -through a press statement- informed members of the public that the variant (B.1.617), was confirmed in Botswana on 13th May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

Moreover the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting that the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

The India variant (B.1.617.2) – is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus which has been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

Nevertheless when speaking at Bank of America Global Metals and Mining conference, Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani said the company portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future enabling products and those that need to decarbonise energy and transport in order to meet consumers’ needs – from home appliances, electronics and infrastructure, to food and luxury goods.

“We see material opportunity for Anglo American to continue to set itself apart in terms of the performance of our diversified business, further enhanced through sector-leading 25% volume growth over the next four years, led by copper and the platinum group metals,” said Cutifani.

“Most importantly, as the supplier of such critical materials, it is the duty of our industry to ensure that in everything we do, we act responsibly and deliver enduring value for our full breadth of stakeholders, including our planet.”

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