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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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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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