Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) revealed this week that since its inception in 2013, the organization has opened export windows worth over P10 billion. Newly appointed BITC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Keletsositse Olebile shared this during a round table discussion with the media in Gaborone this week.
“We have developed compelling value propositions , this are well package documents that says in the beef value chain for example where are the specific opportunities that we can take out to market and not just in beef but also in coal, soda ash just to name but few,” he said. Olebile explained that export-led investment promotion was a key deliverable in the BITC mandate and the organization take pride on considerably satisfactory output in such.
He underscored that this was the export earnings of companies they assisted only, and products uptake they facilitated. “We only measure our performance in areas and companies we assisted,” he said. Olebile explained BITC pushes the export-led narrative because the local market is small for business.
“For Botswana it is a reality that we are a very small population and the most pronounced reason why investors pick a particular location to set up shop has been established to be the size of a market, because we are such a limited market it becomes very key for us to though a location in Botswana find access into the region for our Botswana based factories and commodity producers. That is why we running some of this commendable drives for export promotion,” explained the new BITC chief.
BITC CEO also highlighted that one of the key export promotion initiatives that b fruits were inter boarder trade to leverage fully on duty free arrangements, SACU and other trades facilitation windows. “We have also successfully managed to facilitate cross boarder value chain linkages to say, if a certain industry is flourishing in one of our neighboring countries how can we tap in the value chain and supply some commodities required in that particular industry,” he said.
He cited an example of car manufacturing in South Africa. “That is to say for industries such as vehicle manufacturing or assembly plant we will be on the look out to identify what we can effectively house in Botswana to be able to accelerate job creation here,” he said. According to BITC, cross boarder linkages have been able to create a very effective window for Botswana based companies to access established and much bigger regional markets.
“We emphasize auto components manufacturing to say let companies set up here with a view to supply bigger industrial plants in South African for example, and we have successfully delivered that with companies such Kromberg & Schubert, and a number of manufacturing companies in Lobatse, which are doing business without sister government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation(BDC)”
BITC Director for Export Promotion shared that for the five year period under the just ended strategy ,leading products which contributed significantly to BITC ‘s facilitated export earnings basket were salt and soda ash ,coal and even the struggling beef industry. “We have been working closely with Botswana Ash and we assisted them with improving their effectiveness as an exporter, facilitating them to access established market such as the Zambian & DRC markets which are key consumers of salt and soda ash after South Africa,” she said.
BITC executives further explained that to continue pushing the export-led economy agenda various strategic proposition were already being put in place to harness value chain businesses that can be birthed from salt and soda ash, coal and beef. “We are already in final stages of completing a feasibility study to look at how we can facilitate the setting-up of chemical processing plants and glass manufacturing using the soda ash to ensure that we create the much needed jobs,” shared the Acting Chief Operations Officer, Reginald Selelo.
Olebile highlighted that in the new strategy for BITC deliberate actions will be taken to push and advocate for the liberation of the beef sector “through regional opportunities mapping, identification of natural endowments that can sponsor economic sectors to thrive in a particular environment, the beef industry has been established as a key sector that we have comparative and competitive advantage as a country so we are pushing for the transformation of BMC and by in large the entire sector so that it performs to its full potential of delivering even more jobs for our people” he said
BITC also revealed that there were plans to resuscitate Ostrich farming industry to further deliver more export earnings. “We have recently visited the Dibete Ostrich facility where plans were conceived to revitalize the industry with assistance from benchmarking missions in our neighboring South Africa, the latter account for more that 65 percent of global market share, so we have engaged with the Ministry of Agriculture in that regards,” shared the CEO.
It was also signaled that processes were in place to implement Coal value propositions in a bid to unearth the industry value chains. Leading minds in the coal industry have reiterated that Botswana needs not to look any further in creating jobs for its people and diversifying the mining industry from diamond sector dominance. Latest prospected reserves indicate that Botswana sits on over 200 billion tonnes of coal deposits of which contain different segments of grade value as per economically minable mineralization.
Though a number of companies mostly with Australian origin are already on the ground exploring the economic mineralization of the coal deposits, experts observed that further robust steps must be taken to develop a world class coal industry that can attract global capital and major investment players in turn birthing rigorous industrialization. BITC says in its international missions to lure investors into Botswana such as the recent one in Dubai and upcoming one in China coal industry was one the earmarked sectors to woo external capital into the country.
“We are looking into the entire energy sector, in the areas of renewable energy –coal-methane space, bio gas and bio diesel, we are also working with relevant stakeholders to find investors for the coal-liquid plant which is earmarked to leverage on the abundant coal and make fuel out it, petroleum products, industrial reagents and factory chemical components in turn creating thousands of jobs, boosting our export earnings and growing our economy,” shared Olebile.
Strategic partnership offers inherent benefits of global knowledge, African insights, and local expertise and commitment
Minet Group and Africa Lighthouse Capital today announced that they have received regulatory approval and fulfilled all requirements to acquire Aon’s shareholding in Aon Botswana, and consequently will begin the process to rebrand to Minet Botswana.
Minet Group is a well-known and trusted pan-African risk advisory firm and Aon’s largest Global Network Correspondent and has been rapidly expanding its African footprint since 2017 through the acquisition of operations from global professional services firm Aon in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Minet has been delivering world class products and services across Africa for over 70 years.
Africa Lighthouse Capital (ALC) is a leading Botswana citizen-owned private equity firm focused on investing in Botswana companies and propelling them into regional champions, with over BWP 500 million in funds under management.
The new entity will be rebranded to Minet and will inherit deeply rooted respect by its clients for their innovative and locally relevant solutions, responsiveness, and efficient processes. Furthermore, it shall have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Barnabas Mavuma, previously Managing Director of Aon Botswana, continuing to lead the business as the MD supported by the local management team.
“The addition of Minet Botswana to our growing African network affirms our belief in the great opportunities for growth that Africa offers, driven by rising consumer demand, huge investment in infrastructure and quick adoption of new technology,” says Joe Onsando, CEO at Minet Group.
“This transaction significantly adds to the diversity and skills base of our team and will have a positive impact on the range of products and services we provide. Our Correspondent agreement with Aon gives us access to global expertise and data driven insights and uniquely positions us to deliver risk advisory solutions that reduce volatility, thus driving improved performance for our clients. This is a very exciting time to be Minet in Africa.”
“The significantly increased Botswana citizen shareholding effected by this transaction gives rise to an exciting era of local market focus and growth for Minet Botswana,” says Bame Pule, Founder and CEO of Africa Lighthouse Capital. “We intend to work with Minet Botswana’s local management team to further localise the business in terms of product development, while at the same time investing in local skills development and business development. We look forward to this exciting journey, which will result in a significantly enhanced service offering for Minet Botswana’s clients.”
Consequently, and similar to the other members of the Minet Group, Minet Botswana becomes an Aon Global Network Correspondent, retaining its access to Aon’s resources, technology, and best practises, combined with the benefit of independent, local agility. This transaction furthermore significantly increases local shareholding, enabling operations to become even nimbler and better positioned to unlock new and existing growth opportunities.
Clients of Minet Botswana will experience continuity of product and service delivery standards in the short term. In the near future, they can expect an enhanced offering that combines agility with technology and product innovation, tailormade for their specific needs.
Together, Minet and ALC bring a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance, and an established track record in the region. These qualities, combined with Aon’s global capabilities and expertise, will bring clear benefits for clients.
This transaction vastly increases citizen ownership with shareholders who are going to be active in the business. The transfer of equity interests in Botswana to investors with local and regional expertise, presence and commitment will allow the businesses to move quickly in line with market movements, and to introduce products that are tailored to the local market.
“Minet’s commitment and drive to incessantly adapt to changing market conditions, and to innovate to meet the unique insurance demands of the African continent, while maintaining the high standards customers have come to expect – Onsando concludes – will continue to grow and give Minet a powerful competitive edge within the African market”.
French President Emmanuel Macron received 21 Heads of state and government officials from Africa during the recent summit on the Financing of African Economies that focused on Africa to take full advantage of the tectonic shifts in the global economy and the call for a joint effort for financial and vaccination support for the continent.
President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Most regions of the world are now launching massive post-pandemic recovery plans, using their huge monetary and fiscal instruments. But most African economies suffer the lack of adequate capacities and such instruments to do the same. We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind.
We, the Leaders participating to the Summit, in the presence of international organizations, share the responsibility to act together and fight the great divergence that is happening between countries and within countries.
This requires collective action to build a very substantial financial package, to provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as the means to invest for a better future. Our ambition is to address immediate financing needs, to strengthen the capacity of African governments to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery and to reinforce the vibrant African private sector, as a long-term growth driver for Africa.”
For her part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva highlighted that “there is urgency to focus on financing Africa. Last year, the pandemic-caused recession shrank the GDP of the Continent by 1.9 percent – the worst performance on record. This year, we project global growth at 6 percent, but only half that 3.2 percent for Africa.” Adding that Africa needs to grow faster than the world at 7 to 10 percent to meet the aspirations of its youthful populations, and become more prosperous and more secure.
Georgieva revealed that the price tag on the shot is estimated to be “$285 billion through 2025. Of this $135 billion is for low-income countries. This is the bare minimum. To do more – to get African nations back on their previous path of catching up with wealthy countries – will cost roughly twice as much. These are large numbers. They may seem out of reach. But to quote Nelson Mandela: impossible until it is done.”
The main areas of interest to achieve this include; first, end the pandemic everywhere, 40 percent of the population of all countries is targeted to get vaccinated by the end of 2021, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022.
Second, bilateral and multilateral developmentfinancing grants and concessional loans ought to go up. Over the last year, the IMF have swiftly ramped their financing for the Continent, including providing 13 timestheir average annual lending to sub-Saharan Africa. And are working to do much more. The IMF has also received support to increase access limits so they can scale up their zero-interest lending capacity through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.
The IMF has also devised exceptional measures. Their membership backs an unprecedented new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $650 billion, by far the largest in their history.Once approved, which is intended to be achieved by the end of August, it will directly and immediately make about $33 billionavailable to African members. It will boost their reserves and liquidity, without adding to their debt burden.
Over the course of the last year, the IMF has built experience in facilitating the on lending of SDRs – thus managing to triple their concessional lending capacity as a result.
The Third being, actions at home. According to Georgieva “a crisis is an opportunity for transformational domestic reforms that increase domestic revenue, improve public services, and strengthen governance. For instance, digitalization can improve tax administration and revenue collection, and the quality of public spending. And with radical transparency, Africa can tap into new sources of finance – such as carbon offsets.
There is ample scope for countries to encourage private investment, including in social and physical infrastructure. New IMF research, published today, highlights that domestic and international investors could provide at least 3 percent of GDP per yearof additional financing by the end of this decade.”
Reforms of international taxation can also support Africa’s growth. For a long time, the IMF has been in favor of minimum corporate tax rates to reduce the race to the bottom and tax avoidance. And they strongly support an international agreement on digital tax, something France has been a leading voice for. It is important to secure fair distribution of tax revenues, so they can contribute to closing Africa’s financial gap.
Georgieva called on to each and every one to step up. Reminding the attendees that from history they are all familiar with what a shock of this magnitude can do if not countered forcefully and effectively.
De Beers’ Group, the world’s number one diamond producer by value, this week attributed the downfall of its sales for the fourth cycle week to the second wave of the Covid-19 variant (B.1.617.2) which was first discovered in India.
Diamond trading conditions have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis in India which is a major cutting and polishing centre for the world’s diamond trade.
The outbreak of the new variant has led to a humanitarian crisis with 280, 284 fatalities of the disease reported.
The London headquartered company said the sales in its fourth cycle fell to $380m (about P4.1 billion) down from $450m (about P4.8 billion) in the third cycle though it was higher than the fifth cycles of last year when the group shifted only $56m (P600 million).
De Beers emphasized that they continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.
The De Beers group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver said the company continues to see robust demand for diamond jewellery in the key US and China consumer markets.
“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” said Cleaver.
Meanwhile Botswana health officials have confirmed the new Covid-19 variant in Botswana. The Ministry of Health and Wellness -through a press statement- informed members of the public that the variant (B.1.617), was confirmed in Botswana on 13th May 2021.
According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.
Moreover the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting that the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.
The India variant (B.1.617.2) – is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus which has been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.
Nevertheless when speaking at Bank of America Global Metals and Mining conference, Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani said the company portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future enabling products and those that need to decarbonise energy and transport in order to meet consumers’ needs – from home appliances, electronics and infrastructure, to food and luxury goods.
“We see material opportunity for Anglo American to continue to set itself apart in terms of the performance of our diversified business, further enhanced through sector-leading 25% volume growth over the next four years, led by copper and the platinum group metals,” said Cutifani.
“Most importantly, as the supplier of such critical materials, it is the duty of our industry to ensure that in everything we do, we act responsibly and deliver enduring value for our full breadth of stakeholders, including our planet.”