Chobe Holdings Limited, Botswana’s domestic tourism and hospitality group posted positive results for their financial year ended February 2019 after making several new acquisitions as well as renovations in their existing camps and lodges during the prior year.
According to financial results released by the Botswana Stock Exchange listed group, during the period under review occupancy increased by 5 percent due to growth in available beds following renovations at Chobe Game Lodge and the addition of Dinaka to the Group’s portfolio.
During the financial year, the Group spent, from internally generated cash flows, P82.4 million on the purchase of game drive vehicles, boats, a Cessna caravan significantly improving existing buildings and equipment. Chobe further reports that the acquisition of Dinaka Safari Lodge and the three property owning companies 1st September 2017 by Ker and Downey Botswana, a wholly subsidiary of Chobe, forming the Dinaka Conservancy, gave rise to P26.6 million goodwill.
The lodge was subsequently rebranded and reopened as a Ker & Downey property n 1st March 2018. Furthermore Chobe says during the financial year under review the company commenced the induction and boarding of agents through Dinaka on educational tours to familiarize themselves with the concept of conservancy tourism, a pioneering and otherwise non-traditional Botswana.
According to Chobe Executive management height end conservancy tourism is relatively new to Botswana, with currently no existing entities to benchmark with. “We have therefore used currently available booking data and cash flows from existing camps as models, modifying them to estimate future cash flows from cash flows for Dinaka, to assess the goodwill for impairment in accordance with IFRS” explained J M Gibson, Chobe CEO and Deputy Chairman. The assessment according to Gibson indicated that there was need to write down the goodwill by P7.4 million.
On the revenue front, figures went up by13 percent after a boost from increased bed night’s old, marginal increase in achieved bed night rates in US Dollar terms and depreciation of the Pula against the US Dollar. When gauged against the financial year ended February 2018 Chobe also attributes increased occupancy figures to enhanced marketing efforts.
Group Profit after tax closed the year at 15 percent increase when gauged against the previous year end. Yearend operating cost figures grew by 14 percent, which considered satisfactory in light of increased volumes of business and current inflation levels.
During the year under review Chobe distributed P1.5 million to phantom share scheme, a window opened in February 2013 which allows employees participation in the dividend distribution of the Group. The scheme allows all qualifying staff to share equally in a bonus which is calculated to be equal to the value of dividends attaching to three million shares in the Company.
Post February 2019 Chobe through its wholly owned subsidiary Ker & Downey Botswana acquired the entire issued stated capital of Nelle Investments ,a property owning holding leases for two game farms in the Hainaveld area for a cash consideration of P15.4 million financed using the Group ‘s internal cash resources . Chobe says the two properties will be utilised to increase the extent of the land holdings currently held by Dinaka Conservancy.
Going forward Chobe says it continues to invest considerable resources to improve its marketing strategies, product offerings and cost controls. “The Group’s strong cash position provides us with the opportunities that may arise.” Said Gibson. Tourism in Botswana is earmarked to provide much needed economic diversification away from mining. This diversification drive, according to the World Tourism Organization needs however, to be cautiously applied to avoid “over tourism”, a relatively new buzzword for tourism congestion, management and carrying capacity. “Over tourism” identifies that the true challenge is not so much the number of visitors, but the capacity to manage them. All this whilst preserving the environment.
Chobe says the continued underperformance of Air Botswana hinders growth in the sector. “For the tourism industry to grow to its full potential there is need to have other airlines with relatively reliable performance to be introduced to the Botswana skies both domestically and internationally” said Chobe Boss in the financial statement.
Chobe Holdings Limited owns and operates, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, eleven eco-tourism lodges and camps on leased land in Northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia with a combined capacity of 314 beds under the brands Desert & Delta Safaris and Ker & Downey Botswana.
Safari Air, a wholly owned air charter operator, provides air transport services to the group's camps and lodges. Desert and Delta Safaris (SA) (Pty) Ltd, another wholly owned subsidiary operating in South Africa, provides reservation services to the group. The company got incorporated in Botswana in 1983 and listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in September 29th 1999.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.