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‘Develop Botswana’s capital market’

Botswana has been urged to increase its internal borrowings and further develop its domestic capital market to prepare for rainy days. This was reiterated at the Bond Market Conference hosted by Botswana Bond Market Association in Gaborone recently.

Giving key note address at the conference Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego, Director of Macroeconomic & Financial Management Institute of Eastern & Southern Africa said Botswana has strong macroeconomic environment attributed by low inflation and strong fiscal balances and thus the country should have a strong capital market. Dr Ego noted that the country however currently has a number of issues contributing to lack of liquidity in secondary market. “Botswana needs to develop capital market for future needs when government surpluses decline,” he said.

Ego told the audience that Botswana needs clearly defined and prioritized debt management objectives that balance between sovereign debt, running down banking system balances and bond market development. He noted that developing Secondary markets and corporate bond market was a cumbersome process by nature, that comprised of various challenges and requires planning and various stakeholder commitment to achieve. “Improving liquidity is key and it requires enhancing market infrastructure through legal and regulatory framework, clearing and settlement system,” he said.

He highlighted that capital market development requires proper information dissemination mechanisms to facilitate trading and protect investor interests. “If you are to improve liquidity in the market you will also need coordinated stakeholder approach to identify country specific impediments to reform sequence for bond market development, legal, regulatory, accounting and tax issues,” said Dr Ego.

According to speakers at the conference corporate bond market development depends on company financing patterns and requires well developed yield curve to facilitate the pricing of corporate bonds. Botswana was also advised to work with International Organizations to develop LCBM –CwA, WB and Joint Capital Market Development for country specific intervention on developing liquid, diverse and long-term financing.

African Development Bank was noted as a key stakeholder that Botswana could engage to promote bond market data transparency. The Macroeconomic & Financial Management Institute of Eastern & Southern Africa (MEFMI) Director offered assistance in the areas of organizational framework, debt data management and domestic debt management.

Evolution of Botswana’s Capital Market

Botswana has been internationally recognized among the fastest growing economies in the world. Botswana’s development has been particularly shown through the exponential growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the decades following independence, infrastructure development, improved standards of living, and reduction in poverty, and impressive socio-economic performance ratings by multiple international organizations, among other indicators.

While the mining sector has for a long time remained the back bone of the economy, the country has made significant strides in developing its financial services sector and increasing the sector’s contribution to GDP. In the same token, the local capital markets have registered impressive growth over the years and have been an important avenue for capitalizing broad-based economic growth, economic empowerment as well as economic diversification.

According to the research undertaken and published by the Botswana Stock Exchange, and Botswana Bond Market Association the development of the bond market in Botswana Commenced in 1997 with the issuance of a BWP 50 million bond by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). By 1999, three more bonds were floated on the BSE and these were floated by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Investec South Africa, and Botswana Building Society (BBS).

During these years and leading to 2003 there was no risk-free yield curve, the only reference points were the Bank of Botswana Certificate (BoBC) rate, the Bank rate and the Prime rate. In an effort to increase the competitiveness and lure lenders away from investing in BoBCs on a recurring basis, most bonds at that time were priced with reference to the BoBC rate. Furthermore BSE says there seemed to be no incentive for neither the public sector nor the private sector to consistently issue debt instruments due to consecutive years of fiscal surplus.

The private sector could conveniently borrow needed funds from commercial banks and as a result, the growth of the bond market was slow in the early stages of its establishment. The noticeable growth in the size of the bond market in 2003 was largely attributable to the issuance of the first 3 Government bonds (BW001, BW002 and BW003) under a Note Issuance Program which ran until 2008. The BW001, BW002 and BW003 were 2-year, 5-year and 12-year bonds of BWP 750 million, BWP 850 million and BWP 900 million respectively.

The issuance of these bonds was a momentous step as it triggered a host of other issuances by parastatals, banks and larger corporate bodies. This also broadened the diversity of issuances from the private sector by retail, financial services, and property and banking entities.

African Markets

On the larger Africa space experts at the conference noted that yield curves in African capital markets do not go beyond 5 years for most countries. Albin Kakou, Executive at the African Development Bank noted that there are no Government benchmark-basis for pricing corporate bonds in most African countries.  “African Capital Markets are facing the challenge of shallow and illiquid markets which are made of undeveloped market Infrastructure (CSD’s) as well as irregular benchmark auctions and undiversified investor base,” he said.

Mr Kakou advised that primary dealer’s frameworks be revised. The African based lender says the continent needs to develop a comprehensive data base to provide updated, reliable and complete information on African domestic bond markets. According to Albin Kakou this would help in improving the availability and transparency of African fixed income markets-related data as well as assisting in reconciling and standardizing data produced by several institutions, using different concepts and methods and enhancing the quality of financial statistics on the continent.

Botswana currently has 40 constituent bonds, of which 33 are corporate bonds with 24 fixed being rate bonds. Government has 7 bonds on issue. Total nominal amount of Bonds on issue adds up to over P15 billion. To further develop Botswana‘s capital market this week Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) CEO, Mr. Thapelo Tsheole, was part of a distinguished panel discussion that deliberated on, 'Building Strong Capital Markets: Focus on Good Governance and Transparency' at the Bloomberg Emerging & Frontier Forum 2019 held at the new Bloomberg Headquarters in London earlier today.

Hosted by multi billionaire and one of the world wealthiest businessman Michael Bloomberg in collaboration with Aberdeen Standard Investments, Fitch Ratings and the Institute of International Finance. This flagship event was able to bring together heads of state, ministers, central bank governors and top executives to share their insights into the opportunities, risks, and growth potential of emerging and frontier markets.

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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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