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Pension funds face bleak future – Report

The retirement funds industry is faced with a bleak future due to a number of factors, among them, insufficient legislation as well as the growing number of the ageing population, a Whitepaper published by the World Economic Forum has revealed.  

 The World Economic Forum, a not-for-profit international organisation which promotes public-private cooperation and publishes several other reports such as The Global Competitiveness Report, has indicated in the whitepaper titled ‘How can we save our future’ that several governments around the globe should look into their legislation to save the situation.

“Retirement systems worldwide are currently under strain. While examples of progress made to improve systems are numerous, further reforms are required in many parts of the world to ensure they are sustainable, inclusive and able to provide future generations with financial security in their retirement,” said the report. As part of averting the impending crisis, the whitepaper recommends that governments around the world to be cognisant of this and act in a manner that would secure the future of its working population.

  “Many countries’ retirement systems are organized in a multi-pillar framework, usually resulting in the involvement of many different ministries, government agencies and other organizations. Responsibility is typically split across government departments, and often a holistic vision is lacking,” the whitepaper indicated. “Governments must take responsibility to understand their population’s retirement savings needs, ensure retirement systems have clearly stated objectives or goals, and measure and monitor the metrics on a regular basis.”

THE BOTSWANA STORY

Zooming into Botswana, the pension fund industry has been marred by controversy in recent years, most ranging from political interference, corruption and other forms of maladministration. Earlier this year, an audit conducted on the Botswana Public Employees Pension Fund (BPOPF), the biggest pension fund in Botswana, revealed that close to 1.5 billion pula worth of funds have no trace of active pension members, raising suspicion of possible corruption from some of the fund administrators.

This has been compounded by recent decisions of the BPOPF to cut ties with a number of independent fund managers owing to alarming level of mismanagement of funds as well as acts of corruption.  BPOPF is the third largest pension fund in Africa, with assets value worth over P55 billion, making it bigger than Botswana’s entire banking sector.

The battles for its money, mostly from predatory independent fund managers have seen BPOPF bleeding in several battles in court over its money. The involvement of key senior government officials, such Carter Morupisi, the Permanent Secretary to the President who has been BPOPF board chairman have also added salt to injury.

Morupisi has since left the chairmanship position, but in his trail, after a short stint industry players have seen battles over the BPOPF money. Morupisi has also been subject of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in connection with several contractual obligations that the fund entered into during his stewardship of the board.

According to the World Economic Forum whitepaper the key driver of the challenges facing retirement systems globally is increasing life expectancy and a falling birth rate, which leads to a smaller workforce supporting an ever growing population of retirees.
One of the problems identified as a threat is the long-term, low-growth environment, as indicated in the preceding whitepaper published in 2017 titled ‘We’ll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford It?’

“Given past strong performance in equity and bond markets, future expectations for long-term investment returns are significantly lower than historic averages. Equities are expected to perform ~5% below historic averages and bond returns are expected to be ~3% lower. In addition, low interest rates have grown future liabilities and future investment returns are unlikely to make up the growing pension shortfall,” indicated the report.

“Taken together, these factors put increased strain on pension funds as well as on long-term investors that have commitments to fund and meet the benefits promised to current and future retirees. Individuals will also be impacted as they will likely see smaller.” The whitepaper further recommend that governments should strive to make systems inclusive so that the pillars of a pension system are coordinated holistically to meet the needs of all individuals and provide support for marginalized groups.

Key challenges facing retirement systems include:

Greater longevity, resulting in higher levels of savings required to sustain longer lifetimes and ageing populations, putting a strain on the sustainability of payas-you-go systems

Increasing responsibility for individuals to ensure adequate retirement income, largely driven by trends among governments and employers to move away from traditional defined benefit (DB) systems towards defined contribution (DC) systems. Also, trends in labour markets are resulting in less traditional employment patterns and more contingent and self-employed workers who are unlikely to have access to employer-facilitated plans

Low levels of savings by individuals

Poor financial literacy in an environment where responsibility has shifted to individuals

A lower expected investment return environment, placing more importance on the level of contributions

Lack of access to savings vehicles -one of the biggest barriers to saving for retirement.

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Business

The Bulb World starts operations in South Africa

8th April 2021

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

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Business

‘Oil exploration will have minimal impact’

30th March 2021
Okavango-River-Basin

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.

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Business

Pakmaya yeast penetrates local market

30th March 2021
Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager: Cem Perdar

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 BusinessPost that 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.”

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