As per Grant Thornton’s Women in Business International Business Report, the percentage of businesses in Botswana with at least one woman in senior management stands at 72%, a step closer to the global percentage of 87% which showed an increase of 12% from last year’s survey.
The research states that overall, women now hold 29% of senior leadership positions globally. While this is only up 10% over the past 15 years of research, half this increase (5%) has been achieved in the last 12 months alone. Lorato Mosetlhanyane who is a Professional Integral Coach (PCC) at PinnaLead commented, “These figures are incredibly encouraging and a strong indication that gender parity is starting to be taken seriously by businesses. External factors such as increasing organisational transparency, gender pay gap reporting and highly visible public dialogue like the #MeToo movement appear to be making businesses wake up to the change that is needed.”
While the number of women in senior leadership is increasing, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant wayoff. The percentage of women in senior management in Botswana stands at 38%, an increase from last year’s 33%. When it comes to the role of CEO or Managing Director, only 6% of businesses in Botswana have a woman leading a business, while globally 15% of businesses have woman leading businesses.
Rebecca Sanchez who was recently promoted as an Associate Director at Grant Thornton said, “Despite the strong business case in favour of gender diversity, change at the top has been slow until now. Hopefully, the sharp increase in the representation of women in senior leadership we’re seeing this year is not purely an immediate reaction to what is currently happening in the social media and that we’ll see steady progress in the coming years.”
If we want to continue seeing female representation trend upwards in senior positions, more deliberate action needs to be taken and leaders will play a critical role. Policies that address equal opportunity in career development, bias in recruitment and flexible working can’t just be a “nice to have”. To achieve meaningful progress, they must be adhered to, enforced and regularly revisited to assess their effectiveness and when that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, a truly inclusive culture is created.
At Grant Thornton our years of reporting on women in business, our experience as a global network of firms, and our own efforts to achieve gender balance at executive level have shown us that progress comes through deliberate action in targeted areas. By committing to these actions, all businesses can drive positive change. Grant Thornton’s research report “Women in business: building a blueprint for action” highlights what’s working, what continues to remain a barrier, as well as a number of action items that can drive change regarding gender diversity.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”