Stakeholders in the Mining Industry have called on government to take deliberate action to ensure that Botswana’s underground mineral resources are taken full advantage of. The Mining industry made this call at the Botswana Resources Sector Conference held in Gaborone last week.
Stakeholders proposed that in order to sustain the future of mining in this country, government needs to participate directly in funds mobilization for the heavily capital intensive and risky prospecting and explorations stages of setting up a mine. Nigel Forrester of Mount Burgess Mining submitted that it was difficult to raise capital towards finding new mineral depositions.
He explained that foreign investors often question lack of input from Botswana financial institutions and investors. Forrester argued that for exploring companies to achieve investor confidence and adequately woo global capital, domestic funds must hold a significant stake in the exploration companies. “First question investors ask is how much Botswana funds are injected in the project and the honest answer would be none,” he said, explaining that this would then scare off potential exploration funders from outside who reason that Botswana’s zero participation signalled no confidence on the prospected deposits.
“This then makes the whole funds mobilization excursion very difficult for us. Global funders are reluctant to pop out their money because local finance chain is not taking the lead.” Forrester, whose company is currently exploring Lead Zinc & Silver reserves in Kehabi says Botswana needs to partake fully in securing funds for new explorations if at all new mines are to be developed. “The underground resources are there, in economically minable grades and quantity so we need government to assist us in this process so that we in turn create the much needed jobs,” he said.
James Campbell – Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Diamond PLC said it was advisable for government to establish a strategic exploration fund that will be managed by the Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDC). “The housing of Botswana Government mining and mineral interests in one port under MDC was a great move, now the company needs to go further and actually push the development and utilization of these world class high grade deposits and resources Botswana is sitting on,” he said.
James noted that MDC needs to be allocated a certain percentage from mineral revenue and royalties by its shareholders, being the government, “This move requires political will and deliberate action from the government to actually resource and give MDC green light towards investing in these exploration companies with equity and wait on long term profitable returns and massive job creations,” he said.
Campbell further added that South Africa had recently announced the establishment of an Exploration Fund for junior exploration companies, citing that Botswana could set up Mining Incubations which encompass skills exchanges, financial provisions and other prospecting and exploration requisites.
THE FUTURE OF BOTSWANA DIAMONDS
On other deliberations Botswana’s most valuable mineral resource, Diamonds, which are currently the anchor of the economy are said to be depleting annually with the only way being to go underground if mining was to continue, albeit at a heavy cost. Mike de Wit, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tsodilo Resources said there were prospects of extending Botswana‘s Diamond industry to an extra 2–3 decades beyond the current prospected life span of Botswana mines which is around only up to 2050.
Wit said Jwaneng and Orapa were sitting on one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, the kimberlites, “These kimberlites are only 7 in the world and some are in Russia.” “To mine the waste, that is the tailings, will take our mines further but not forever, so new prospecting and exploration needs to be undergoing to find and indentify new deposits,” he highlighted.
Lamenting on Wit’s words Renowned Diamond Hunter who discovered Orapa mine, Leon Daniels said Botswana mining and mineral policies needed to be reviewed in order to facilitate and enable new diamond exploring companies to find new minor diamond reserves. Daniels explained current taxations and cumbersome regulatory processes with frustrating turnaround times can only be afforded by big Companies like De Beers.
“These multi-nationals are only interested in high grade kimberlites, this now means that minor mineralization’s with 20-25 developed mine life span are left neglected because junior exploration companies don’t last long due to unfriendly and outdated policies,” he said. Daniels who previously worked for both De Beers and Anglo American highlighted that Botswana’s move to be a global Diamond hub needs to be a reality other than just talk.
“If you look at countries such as Mauritius, they do not have any diamond mining but are doing exceptionally well in diamond cutting and jewellery making, why is Botswana still lagging behind?” he said. According to Daniels and other experts Botswana can seal any diamond mining, sales and processing deal in its own reasonable terms and conditions which benefit Batswana better.
“We are talking about high grade diamond kimberlites that are very scarce and rare to find anywhere else in the world, so Botswana needs to up its game at the negotiating tables and as a matter of urgency seal more deals which will out mass job creation for its people,” reiterated Leon Daniels.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.