Botswana conceived Pan-African financial group Letshego Holdings Limited announced its financial results for the first six months of 2018, mirroring a sound and satisfactory performance across its spread African footprint.
Key financial highlights indicate that the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed financial outfit raked in an impassive double digit growth on its profit before tax as well as gross loans and advances, compared to the six month ended June 2017. Profit before tax expanded by 19 percent to P590 million, with gross loans and advances growing by 12 percent, to P8.7 billion against to the half year ended June 2017.
Operating income increased by 15 percent following expansion of various strategic initiatives being; agency banking, mobile digital platforms, strategic partnerships, cross-selling and the launch of new solutions in select markets amongst others. Letshego told its stakeholder on Monday that operating costs for the period under review increased by 17 percent, which included P10 million in once-off costs following a write-down of redundant IT equipment as the Group prepares to migrate to a cloud environment.
Letshego executives explained that however a higher effective tax rate of 38 percent resulted in a lower increase in profit after tax for the period, the latter only moved up by 11 percent. The company also dealt with impairment provision increase of 37 percent following the implementation of new accounting standards, ‘IFRS 9’ as of 1 January 2018.
Letshego Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Colm Patterson explained that this meant a P150 million decline in the Group’s retained earnings and an increase in impairment provisions from P402 million to P552 million during the 2018 first half. He said IFRS 9 has also resulted in an increase in the Group’s Coverage Ratio to 95 percent. Patterson is currently overseeing Group operations in the interim while recruitment is ongoing to find replacement for Chris Low who resigned last month after 5 years of leading the BSE listed Group.
He highlighted that on another positive note Letshego Group’s loan recoveries continue to improve with exception of Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda business which experienced increase in impairments during the period under review. “The Group continues to see gradual growth in deposits, with Mozambique and Rwanda seeing greater momentum in deposits than other markets in the Group’s footprint, Letshego’s ongoing success in forging strategic partnerships, rolling out our LetsGo solution in select markets and mobilizing our focus and strategy continues to deliver dividends,” shared Letshego CFO.
Patterson revealed that borrowing customers have increased by more than 50% and deposit customers have doubled over the same period. “Although deposit customer growth remains at a low base, we hope to maintain this momentum for the second half of the year,” he said. Colm explained that Letshego continues to make good progress with its diversification strategy into nongovernment segments across markets, with access remaining a core priority as the Group centers its focus on enhancing customer value.
“More specifically, Ghana and Tanzania have made the most progress in extending solutions to informal segments. Following Letshego Ghana’s launch of ‘Qwikloan’ late 2017, in partnership with MTN Ghana, more than 2.5 million loans have been disbursed to over 600,000 customers” he added. “Letshego’s Affordable Housing and Education Eco-System solutions remain key drivers of growth in the Group’s MSE (Micro and Small Entrepreneurs) loan book, together the two solutions constitute 6% of the total loan portfolio.”
Patterson explained that in support of Letshego’s financial inclusion agenda, the Group remains focused on increasing digital access channels, as opposed to adding more physical outlets to its regional footprint. “Digital channels include USSD, Agency Banking, Direct Sales Agents and Cards. In the first half of this year, Letshego has doubled the number of independent agent access points, and increased USSD registrations by more than 50 percent Cards, the Group’s most recently launched channel is achieving positive progress in roll out to customers in Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania,” he said.
Letshego continues to reduce its dependence on bank loan funding by issuing notes off existing DMTN programmes in active domestic debt capital markets. Ghana recently issued GHS95 million (about P221 million) of new notes with 5, 6 and 7 year maturities, with all issuances being oversubscribed.
Letshego Ghana obtained approval to increase its DMTN Programme limit by GHS200mn. Three new bonds with a face value of GHS95million were issued in the first half of the year, maintaining a stable bond rating of BBB+(GH) from Global Credit Rating (GCR) – three notches above investment grade. The Group’s credit rating from Moody’s remains unchanged.
This first half also saw conclusion of P256million of funding from international investors. New funders include development finance institutions, investors who focus on micro and inclusive finance ventures and impact investors. “Most of these newer finance partners are headquartered in the UK and Europe, all with a keen interest in sustainable development in Africa.
The funding arrangements mentioned above are expected to deliver treasury benefits and mitigate funding risk for the Group by achieving geographical diversification in its funding base, increasing the current number of funders, securing longer tenors as well as reducing the Group’s overall open foreign exchange exposure by drawing new local currency-denominated facilities,” explained Colm Patterson
He echoed that Letshego Group remains on track and committed to its current strategy of increasing access to simple and appropriate solutions across its 11 market footprint, leveraging digital technology and strategic partnerships – ultimately achieving our collective objective in increasing financial inclusion across Africa.
Homegrown LED light manufacturing company, The Bulb World, has kick started operations in South Africa, setting in motion the company’s ambitious continental expansion plans.
The Bulb World, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017, announced last year that it will enter the South African market in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of North West province under the auspices of North West Development Corporation (NWDC).
The company has already secured a deal with South Africa authorities which entails production factory shells and tax incentives arrangements.
The company founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ketshephaone Jacob has also previously stated that the company is looking for just under P50 million to finance its expansion strategy and is reaching out to institutional investors such as Botswana Public Officers Pensioners Fund (BPOPF) and government investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
However, Jacob told WeekendPost that instead of sitting and waiting for expansion funding the company has started hitting the ground running.
“We have decided to get in the streets of SA, start selling lights from door to door, ” said Jacob who is in currently in Rusternburg to oversee the introduction of The Bulb World products in the market.
Jacob explained more brand activations will be undertaken in South Africa. “The plan is to do it the whole of North West and Limpopo province, through hawkers, we give the hawkers the lights to sell at a factory price and they put a mark up and make a living,” he said.
The Bulb World operates from Selibe Phikwe, it currently employees 65 young people, 80 % of which are Phikwe youth. The company plans to add 100 jobs this year alone as it forges ahead with its regional and continental expansion plans.
In July this year Bulb World products will hit South African Shelves: Pick n Pay, Checkers and Africa’s largest retailer Shoprite.
The Bulb World has been registered as a company in South Africa; the company will start producing lights from Mogwasa after striking a special economic zones deal with North West Development Corporation in North West Province South Africa.
“Over the next 10 years we are looking to create over 5,000 jobs in Africa. Through our expansion into all of Africa we will be able to create employment for various individuals in different sectors namely; manufacturing, distribution electronics and retail,” Jacob told this publication earlier this year.
Jacob said if all goes well, the plan is to have taken over Africa or rather penetrated, and have prevalent presence in the African market.
“We are gunning to have at least 30 percent market share by then. According to a 2016 Market Survey, the total valuation of sales for LED Lighting was 57BN, a portion of which we plan to have taken over by then,” he said.
While the company has set its eyes on Africa, Jacob said, the company has not fully exploited its local growth, indicating that there could be strategic factories built to supply neighbouring countries of Angola and Zimbabwe.
“There is potential for further local expansion as well to other areas of Botswana if things run smoothly as anticipated. Hopefully in the long-term if our fellow Africans and all these markets receive us well we are planning to build another factory,” he said.
“We are looking to build another factory in the Chobe/Ngamiland Area that will give priority to markets in Zimbabwe and Angola,” he said
The Maun based Okavango Research Institute (ORI) has downplayed the impacts of oil and gas exploration in part of Okavango delta arguing that given the distance proposed the likelihoods of negative impacts drilling these exploration wells on the surface water systems is likely to be negligible.
The Institution released a position paper titled ‘Proposed Petroleum (Oil and Gas) Exploration Operations in the Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) No. 73,’ with findings stating that, in the event of discovery of economically viable hydrocarbon deposits, much more careful consideration of the impacts and economic benefits of development of the resource will be needed.
For example, the fracking process for gas and oil extraction is known to require large volumes of underground water.
It further argues that increased extraction of the underground water is likely to affect the water table level and further affect the overall water availability in the river-basin.
“The effect on water availability and use may become worse if surface water is reticulated or sourced by any means from the Kavango River. Should the exploration and fracking for oil and gas expand to Block 1720, 1721 and 1821, the impact on water availability and quality will be significant, especially if the wastewater is not well managed,” said the paper.
The research unit recommends close communication between the relevant Basin State Ministries (Mineral Resources, Environment) and the Permanent Commission on the Okavango River Basin, OKACOM, and other stakeholders must be facilitated.
This will facilitate sharing of the correct information on the desired intentions of the basin states and compromises sought for the sustainability of the ecosystems in the downstream of the Cubango-Okavango river Basin, states the position paper.
ORI as a key stakeholder with scientific information says it is positioned to provide scientific advice and guidance to decision-makers on the potential impacts of both exploration and development and operation activities.
It also recommends that while the impacts might be minimal at the exploration stage, environmental impacts during the development and extraction process are significant.
Findings also state that the SADC Protocol places a mandatory duty to make a notification of planned measures undertaken in any riparian state in cases where such measures hold the potential to cause ‘significant adverse effects.’
It further states that where the planned development is trivial and not expected to cause any significant harm, the development state is not under duty to notify other riparian states.
Given that the drilling in the Kavango Region in Nambia is merely for exploratory purpose and the possibility of harm is minor, it is therefore not surprising that the Namibian government did not inform Botswana.
However, should it be found that the oil can be profitably or economically exploited, the Namibian government would be under a duty to notify both Angola and Botswana.
The institution further states that to ensure sustainable development in the Okavango Delta the following in the context of exploration for and potential development of hydrocarbon deposits within the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, it must be considered that the Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site listed in 2014 by UNESCO and one of the binding requirements of the listing is the non-permissible commercial mining of any mineral, gas or oil within the World Heritage Site.
It states that the Okavango Delta is also a RAMSAR site in which mining is not allowed.
Should the exploration for minerals, oil and gas be allowed, there is a high chance that a mineral, oil or gas may be found given that the Delta is sitting on karoo sediments and shale rocks which in other parts of the world have been found to be sources of oil and gas deposits. Should oil or gas be discovered, there will be a strong socio-economic pressure to mine oil or gas and create jobs for the masses.
Manufactured in Turkey, Pakmaya Instant Dry Yeast can be used in the production of various fermented products, as it is suited for both traditional and industrial baking processes. All kinds of breads, buns and fermented pastry products are typical examples of applications.
Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager Cem Perdar says Pakmaya has 4 plants in across the world, further indicating that all of the plants have the highest standards of quality certificates and approvals. Regarding raw material, molasses is the main ingredient for yeast. Concerning production activities, yeast manufacturing requires high know-how and capability. Pakmaya has all those capabilities and aspects more than 45 years.
According to Perdar, Pakmaya has been existent in African markets since 30 years. From South to North, Central to East and West, a consumer can find Pakmaya in nearly every part of Africa continent.
“With its high quality, rich product selection and good service, our brand has become the favorite yeast of many Africans. On the other hand, our distributors in African countries are working very hardly and loyally in order to promote our products in their markets. After some time, we are becoming like families with our exclusive distributors in Africa and this enables both parts to work harder and keeps our product sustainable in market,” he said in an interview this week.
The yeast manufacturing giant made its way to Botswana market. The company has been smoothly working with Kamoso Distribution, a local distribution company. Perdar told BusinessPostthat two entities have been working hard to earn is market locally.
“At the moment we have a good market share with them in Botswana market. I’m sure during 2021 long, we will be increasing our sales and market position. Soon we are going to start a marketing campaign in Botswana, so that means Batswana will see and recognize Pakmaya more and more. Pakmaya wants to be the best friend of bakers in bakeries and ladies at homes in Botswana.”
As per global COVID-19 regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19, Botswana just like other country closed borders. Providentially, the restrictions did not affect the company destructively.
Perdar says “Kamoso Africa is a very important and strong partner in Botswana territory. With Kamoso’s hard work and strict measurements, we have done a very good job. So as Pakmaya, we have not suffered any distribution problem. Our partner is doing the needful at the reaching our products to end users.”
He further said “We are doing well in Botswana market and hoping to make much more. Our aim is to enter every single corner in Botswana territory. With our new marketing campaigns, we are planning to be the most preferred yeast in Botswana market.”