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Lucara gigantic stone shakes Canadian markets

This week Lucara Diamond Corp which started this year on a high note with regards to digging out larger precious stones discovered a 223 carat high white gem diamond and its share price responded by a hot wave which slightly shook the Canadian markets, going up by 8.28 percent or moving up by 14 cents from $1.69 to $1. 83.

A market observation shows on 15 February the share price was at $1.69 and it went up to $1.83 the same time when Lucara announced its 223 carat diamond. This was after the share price was moving at a slow but fluctuating pace of between $1.67 and $1.68 since 7 February 2019 prior to the big announcement of the 223 carat gem on 19 February 2019 which showed a significant rise of 8.28 percent in the share price. In the Swedish market the new discovery by Lucara only increased by 1.59 percent while in Botswana the share price remained unmoved at P16.00 even after the big announcement.

Lucara’s primary listing is in the Toronto Stock Exchange(TSX), has secondary listing in the Botswana Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stockholm all under the share code “LUC”. Lucara is registered in Toronto, Canada and 100 percent Karowe Mine in Letlhakane where the recent 223 carat high white gem diamond discovery was made.

The latest 223 carat mined from the Botswana soil is expected to be showcased alongside its other large counterparts, the 127 carat which was discovered just ten days into 2019 and the 240 carat which was found eighteen days later still on this year, at the upcoming diamond tender closing on 7 March 2019. The next sale date for Lucara diamonds is 7 March 2019 and the viewings, which are open for Gaborone, Botswana only, will be on 24 February and 7 March 2019.

Lucara President and Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas commented: “2019 is off to a great start, with several, high quality diamonds in excess of 100 carats having been recovered by mid February, a testament to the strong, stable operating environment that has prevailed at Karowe since late 2018. The 127 carat, 240 carat and 223 carat gems will be made available for sale alongside other exceptional, single diamonds at our first diamond tender of the year, closing on March 7, 2019.”

Last year Thomas lauded Botswana’s Karowe mine’s significant contribution to Lucara’s production, especially with regards to producing big gems. The Lucara president called Karowe operations “stabilized and significantly improved our mining operations.” Diasmond experts believe Karowe has positioned itself as Lucara’s flagship with the production of larger diamonds.

Ever since laying its sharp mechanisms on Karowe in 2012 a total of 129 diamonds in excess of 100 carats have been mined and last year 33 precious stones were dug up. There have been 12 larger than 300 carats in size diamonds mined by Lucara and five of them were recovered in 2018. When touting Karowe last year after an avalanche discovery of further larger diamonds Thomas said the Letlhakane mine “has consistently delivered large, high-value diamonds throughout its history.” The Karowe open pit is reported to boast reserves of 2.6 million carats extending out to 2026.

Karowe is known to produce the historic 1109 carat Lesedi La Rona diamond, the largest rough diamond to be found in more than a century. Lesedi La Rona which was dug up in Karowe in November 2015 is also the third largest diamond ever found and the second largest of gem quality-only the non-black gem Sergio and the gem-quality Cullinan were larger. The largest diamond to be produced by Lucara was insured for P1.2 billion and was sold for P530 million to British jeweler Graff Diamonds

Another giant gem coming out of the Karowe open pit was the 813 carat Constellation which was purchased by Swiss jeweler De Grisogono for P631 million. Both Lesedi La Rona and Constellation have been rated Type IIa by the Gemological Institute of America. Type IIa diamonds are the most valued and the purest type of diamonds. They are regarded as rare and coveted subgroup and are chemically pure and often show extraordinary optical transparency.

Next month Clara Diamond Solutions is expected to have a field day when selling the large three diamonds which have just been discovered in two months.  Clara, wholly owned by Lucara, is the digital sales platform that uses proprietary analytics together with cloud and blockchain technologies to modernize the existing diamond supply chain, driving efficiencies, unlocking value and ensuring diamond provenance from mine to finger.

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Debswana-Botswana Oil P8 billion fuel partnership to create 100 jobs

18th May 2022
Head-of-Stakeholder-Relations

The partnership between Debswana and Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) which was announced a fortnight ago will create under 100 direct jobs, and scores of job opportunities for citizens in the value chain activities.

In a major milestone, Debswana and BOL jointly announced that the fuel supply to Debswana, which was in the past serviced by foreign companies, will now be reserved for citizen companies. The total value of the project is P8 billion, spanning a period of five years.

“About 88 direct jobs will be created through the partnership. These include some jobs which will be transferred from the current supplier to the new partnership,” Matida Mmipi, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Botswana Oil, told BusinessPost.

“We believe this partnership will become a blueprint for other citizen initiatives, even in other sectors of the economy. Furthermore, this partnership has succeeded in unlocking opportunities that never existed for ordinary citizens who aspire to grow and do business with big companies like Debswana.”

Mmipi said through this partnership, BOL and Debswana intend to impact citizen owned companies in the fuel supply value chain that include transportation, supply, facilities maintenance, engineering, customs clearance, trucks stops and its support activities such as workshop / maintenance, tyre services, truck wash bays among others.

“The number of companies to be on-boarded will be determined by the economics at the time of engagement,” she said. BOL will play a facilitatory role of handholding and assisting emerging citizen-owned fuel supply and fuel transportation companies to supply Debswana’s Jwaneng and Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa (OLDM) mines with diesel and petrol for their operations.

“BOL expects to increase citizen companies’ market share in the fuel supply and transportation industries, which have over the years been dominated by foreign-owned suppliers. Consequently, the agreement will also ensure security of supply for Debswana operations, which are a mainstay of the Botswana economy,” Mmipi said.

“Furthermore, BOL will, under this agreement, transfer skills to citizen suppliers and transporters during the contract period and ensure delivery of competent and skilled citizen suppliers and transport companies upon completion of the agreement.”

Mmipi said the capacitating by BOL is limited to providing citizen companies oil industry technical capability and capacity to deliver on the requirements of the contract, when asked on helping citizen companies to access funding.

“BOL’s mandate does not include financing citizen empowerment initiatives. Securing funding will remain the responsibility of the beneficiaries. This could be through government financing entities including CEDA or through commercial banks. Further to this, there are financial institutions that have already signed up to support the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme (CEEP),” Mmipi indicated.

While BOL is established by government as company limited by guarantee, it will not benefit financially from the partnership with Debswana, as citizen empowerment in the petroleum value chain is core to BOL’s mandate.

“BOL does not pursue citizen facilitation for financial benefit, but rather we engage in citizen facilitation as a social aspect of our mandate. Citizen facilitation comes at a cost, but it is the right thing to do for the country to develop the oil and gas industry,” she said.

Mmipi said supplying fuel to Debswana comes with commercial benefits such as supply margins. These have traditionally been made outside the country when supply was done by multi-nationals for a period spanning over 50 years. With BOL anchoring supply for Debswana, this benefit will accrue locally, and BOL will be able to pay taxes and dividends to the shareholders in Botswana.

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VAT in Africa Guide 2022 – Africa re-emerging

18th May 2022

PwC Africa has presented the eighth edition of the VAT in Africa Guide – Africa re-emerging. This backdrop of renewal informs on the re-emergence of African economies and societies which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this edition, which has been compiled by PwC Africa’s indirect tax experts, covers a total of 41 African countries. It is geared towards sharing insight with our clients based on the constantly changing tax environments that can have a significant impact on business operations.

Within Africa, governments continue to focus on expanding the tax net by improving revenue collection through efficient compliance systems and procedures. PwC Africa has observed that revenue authorities also continue to take a keen interest in indirect taxes as part of revenue mobilisation initiatives.

Maturing VAT system and upskilling SARS 

“In South Africa, VAT is becoming more relevant as a revenue source for the government,” says Matthew Besanko, PwC South Africa’s Indirect Tax Leader. “Strides have been made to upskill South African Revenue Service (SARS) staff and identify VAT revenue leakages, particularly in respect of foreign suppliers of electronic services to people and businesses in South Africa.”

Broadening the tax base and digital economy

In the past year, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe saw updates to their VAT legislation, or introduced specific legislation targeting electronically supplied services (ESS), which is in line with the global trend of attempting to tax the digital economy. “The expectation is that Botswana will also introduce VAT legislation in due course, while the National Treasury in South Africa has also made mention of revising the rules to account for further developments in the digital economy,” Besanko says.

South Africa’s National Treasury has also drafted legislation with the intention to introduce a reverse charge on gold, which is expected to come into effect later in 2022. While in Zimbabwe, revenue authorities have introduced a tax on the export of raw medicinal cannabis ranging between 10% and 20%, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.

ESG and carbon tax 

Key strides have also been made within the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space. “ESG leadership, strategising and reporting is essential now for organisations that wish to flourish and remain relevant,” Kabochi says. He adds that companies need to consider how ESG and tax intersect, since tax is a significant value driver when businesses need to deliver on their ESG goals.

In South Africa, a carbon tax regime, which is being implemented in three phases, has been adopted. The second phase was scheduled to start in January 2023, however phase one was extended by three years until 31 December 2025.

Until then, taxpayers will enjoy substantial tax-free allowances which reduce their carbon tax liability. At the beginning of 2022, the South African government increased the carbon tax rate to R144 (about US$9), which is expected to increase annually to enable South Africa to uphold its COP26 commitments.

With effect from 1 January 2023, carbon tax payers in South Africa will also be required to submit carbon budgets and adhere to the provisions of the carbon budgeting system which will be governed by the Climate Change Bill. Where set carbon budgets are exceeded, the government plans to impose penalties. “At PwC, we are continuously focused on our renewed global strategy, ” The New Equation,” Kabochi says. “Through this strategy, a key focus area for PwC Africa is to support clients in adding value to their ESG ambitions and building trust through sustained outcomes.”

The New Equation is also an acknowledgement of the fundamental changes in the business environment in which PwC’s clients and other stakeholders operate. PwC continues to reinvent and adapt to these changes as a community of problem solvers, combining knowledge and human-led technology to deliver quality services and value.

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Economists project lower economic growth for Botswana

18th May 2022
CBD

Local and international economists have lowered their projections on Botswana’s economic growth for 2022 and 2023, saying the country is highly likely to fail to maintain high growth rate recorded in 2021 hence will not reach initial forecasts.

Economists this week lowered 2022 forecasts for Botswana’s economic growth rate, from the initial 5.3% to 4.8% and added that in 2023 growth could further decline to 4.0%. The lower projections come on the backdrop of an annual economic growth that recovered sharply in 2021 with figures showing that year-on-year real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased to 11.4%, up from a contraction of 8.7% in 2020.

Economists from the local research entity, E-consult, this week stated that the 2021 double digit growth that exceeded projections made at the time of the 2022 budget may be short lived due to other developments taking place in the global economy. E-consult Economist Sethunya Kegakgametse stated that the war in Ukraine has worsened supply problems in the global economy and added that before the war, macroeconomic indicators were seen as improving and returning to pre-COVID levels.

According to the economist the global economy was projected to improve in 2022 and 2023. Recent figures show that global growth projections have been revised downwards from the initial forecast of 4.9% in 2022 with the World Bank’s new estimate for global growth in 2022 at 3.2%.

The statistics also shows that International Monetary Fund revised their growth projections for 2022 and 2023 down by 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, falling to 3.6% for both years. “The outbreak of war has severely dampened the global recovery that was under way following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the economist.

She stated that despite Botswana being geographically removed from the conflict, the country has not and will not be exempt from the disruptions in the global economy. “The disruptions to global supply chains resulting from the war will have a negative effect on both Botswana’s growth and trade activities.

The economic sanctions against diamonds from Russia will add uncertainty to the market which will have knock on effects to Botswana’s growth, exports, and government revenues,” said the economists who added that the disruptions are driving prices up and result with very high inflation in the local economy.

Kegakgametse projected that in an attempt to limit inflation Bank of Botswana will be forced to raise interest rate “Should the sharp increase in both global and local inflation persist, Bank of Botswana much like other central banks around the world will be forced to raise interest rates in a bid to control rising prices. This would mean an end to the expansionary monetary policy stance that had been adopted post COVID-19 to aid economic growth,” she said.

In the latest projections, the UK based economic research entity Fitch Solutions lowered 2022 real GDP growth forecast for Botswana from 5.3% to 4.8% “In 2023, we see economic growth rate decelerating to 4.0%,” said Fitch Solutions economists who also noted that the 2022 and 2023 economic growth projections may come out lower than the current forecasts, as it is possible that new vaccine-resistant virus variants may be identified, which could result in the re-implementation of restrictions. “In such circumstances, we cannot rule out that Botswana’s economy may post weaker growth than our baseline scenario currently assumes,” said the economists.

According to the projections, Fitch Solution stated that there is limited scope for Botswana government to increase diamond production and exports, following the economic sanctions imposed on Russian diamond mining companies operating in Botswana. The research entity added that De Beers is unlikely to scale up diamond output from Botswana in order to prop up diamond prices.

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