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Botswana staggers as most investment attractive destination in Africa

The Africa Investment Index (AII) 2018 report by the Quantum Global Research Lab has placed Botswana on fourth position as far as investment attraction is concerned, this is a three (3) spots decline compared to the 2017 Index which placed the landlocked middle income country on position 1. Morocco has been named the most attractive investment destination in Africa, followed by Egypt and Algeria.

In this year’s report the Switzerland based Global Group of companies placed Morocco on the first spot as Africa’s most investment attractive destination predominately attributed to the country’s commendable Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures.  Quantum Research lab is an independent research partner to African countries. Its mission is to lead innovation and excellence in the delivery of bottom-up econometric models of African economies that are embedded in African realities.

The Research Lab delivers unbiased insights on African economies and macro-economic policy analysis that support the development of innovative economic policy and sustainable investments. This work is conducted through the Research Lab’s global office in Switzerland and its regional offices in African countries; and in partnerships with institutions and individuals around the world.

According to the index Morocco has a receptive business environment and low risk profile. Head of the Research Lab, Professor Mthuli Ncube who was one of the panelists at the Botswana 2017 Global Expo Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) plenary session held in Gaborone late last year observes in the report that Morocco has been consistent in attracting an inward flow of foreign capital, specifically in banking, tourism and energy sectors and through the development of industry. The North African country ranks first based on its increasing solid economic growth, strategic geographic positioning, increased foreign direct investment, external debt levels, social capital factors and overall favorable business environment.

In 2017 the North African country attracted around $2.57 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) recording an increase by 12 percent compared to 2016.The country is being recognized as one of the best-emerging markets for overseas investment. International investors are also looking at wide range of sectors for investments including areas such as energy, infrastructure, tourism, and ICT amongst others and Morocco has been highlighted by in various international business & investment platforms as a more convincing African country in wooing global Capital.

The index which was released on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan measures six major factors: growth, liquidity, risk, business environment, demography and social capital, to determine the investment attractiveness of countries in the medium term. Ivory Coast, Africa’s fastest growing economy ranks 5th just after Botswana which was number 1 on the previous index. However Botswana scored well in risk factors as well as the business environment.

The other countries among the top 10 most attractive investment destinations in Africa are Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Senegal. The bottom 10 African countries in attracting investment are Central African Republic, Liberia , Somalia, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe as well as Zimbabwe.

HOW THE INDEX WAS CALCULATED

The Africa Investment Index (AII) is constructed from macroeconomic and financial indicators and the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators (DBI). The DBI ranks countries in terms of a regulatory environment conducive to business operation.AII focuses on five pillars or factors from a wider range of investment indicators, which include the share of domestic investment in the gross domestic product (GDP), the share of Africa’s total Foreign direct investment (FDI) net inflow, GDP growth rate forecast, inflation differential, credit rating, import cover, the share of the country’s external debt in its GNI, current account ratio, ease of doing business and the country’s population size.

The AII indicators are based on secondary data collected from World Bank Development Indicators, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Data Centre and own estimates.

AII is a combination of individual indicator’s rank into a single numerical ranking. It averages the country’s macroeconomic and financial indicators rankings on the five different factors. Each indicator and factors receives an equal weight. Their rank score is then averaged to produce the total average score, which is consequently ranked from 1 to 54. The higher the value of the ranking, the lower the implied business investment climate.

To produce an index score that captures medium-term changing aspects, individual country’s ranking is scaled relative to a benchmark or reference value (i.e., the past three-year rolling average ranking). In addition to the intended measurement, this approach helped to avoid periods of structural changes (which may compromise the index) that may be present in a longer time span, whether we consider a change from a reference average value or a historical reference period.

BOTSWANA’S FALL


Botswana’s decline in the investment attraction index can be attributed to a number of issues that have been raised by experts and investors in various investment and business dialogue forums. Lack of infrastructure and skilled personnel especially in the industrial and labour intensive sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and food processing has been underscored as concerns that need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Speaking at the 2017 Global Expo Mthuli Ncube said Botswana’s ranking in the African Investment Index was attractive to investors until they come to Botswana and get pushed away by a number of issues in the local business environment. These issues range from cumbersome immigration procedures, long turnaround time for work permits amongst others.

Experts hold the view that Botswana should package itself as Southern Africa’s Investment Hub arguing that a country cannot remain a middle income state for decades whereas it has one of the best coal deposits in the world, has livestock population more than that of human population, stable political conditions and low interest rates as well as low exchange rate risks. Ncube said these factors and many others that distinguish Botswana from other African continents were more than enough to position Botswana as the best FDI destination globally.

Botswana through its investment promotion and business facilitation agencies has put in place various reforms and initiatives to transform Botswana into the world’s number 1 investment attraction destination. Botswana Investment & Trade Centre recently opened the One Stop Shop for investors to access all permits, company registration, and clearances in house under once centre. Ease of doing business reforms are also amongst other undertakings that are expected to output positive results and deliver an investment attractive destination.

This week the newly inaugarated President of the Republic of Botswana His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi appointed the youngest Member of Parliament Bogolo Kenewendo to the Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) as a whole Minister. Kenewendo, a trade specialist and economic sharp brain is expected to spearhead Botswana’s economic transformation quest and deliver an export led economy, diversified and anchored on private sector.

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Business

Botswana records first trade surplus since January

7th October 2021
Botswana-records-first-trade-surplus-

Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.

The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.

Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.

According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.

Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.

A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.

For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.

Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.

These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.

Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.

Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.

The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.

Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.

South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.

 

In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.

The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.

South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.

Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.

Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).

During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.

Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.

During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).

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Business

The 2021/2022 Stanford Seed Transformation Program Begins

7th October 2021

Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa

The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.

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Minergy overcomes challenges – improves revenue and produces record breaking coal sales to date

7th October 2021
Minergy

Minergy, the coal mining and trading company with the Masama coal mine, this week released results for the year ended 30 June 2021. The company achieved revenue of P193 million (2020: P81 million) with significant improvement in sales volumes surpassing 415 000 tonnes sold for the year.

The performance was divided into two distinct periods with very different operating environments. The first eight-month period (July 2020 – February 2021), was negatively impacted by delayed funding, COVID-19 impacts and excessive rain; and the last four-month period (March – June 2021), was a more stable production environment moving toward nameplate capacity.

According to Minergy CEO, Morné du Plessis, production and sales initially recovered in July and August 2020 with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and recoveries were further bolstered by the successful launch of the rail siding. Delays experienced in concluding the funding contributed to contractors limiting operations to manage arrears.

“However, the heavy rains we experienced from December 2020 through February 2021 flooded the mine pit making access difficult and impacting both production and sales. Fortunately, the rain subsided in March 2021, and we entered a more stable environment, with a positive impact on operations. Good recoveries in production and sales were experienced during the last four-month period of the year, with the mine moving closer toward a breakeven position.”

“Despite these operational constraints, including the effects of COVID-19 on logistics and manning of shifts, we expect to reach consistent nameplate capacity in the 2022 financial year,” du Plessis added.

FINANACIAL REVIEW

In addition to the revenue reported above, the company incurred costs of sales of P256 million (2020: P150 million) with operating costs of P23 million (2020: P31 million). This effectively resulted in an operating loss of P86 million (2020: P100 million). Finance costs of P51 million (2020: P17 million) were incurred, bringing the net loss before taxation to P136 million (2020: P117 million).

Du Plessis explains that the adverse conditions in the first eight-month period contributed to 86% of the gross loss, while the more stable four-month period alone contributed to 50% of total sales value, helping to decrease monthly gross losses, albeit below breakeven levels.

The company benefited from a strengthening in the South African Rand (“ZAR”) supporting higher back-on- mine sales prices.

“As announced, we’re pleased to have secured P125 million of additional convertible debt funding through the Minerals Development Company Botswana (Proprietary) Limited (“MDCB”). Minergy remains grateful for this support.”

He added that the first tranche of additional funding provided by the MDCB had been received in December 2020, which allowed Minergy to settle the majority of the contractor’s arrears and allowed their teams to be remobilised. The second and final tranche was paid post the financial year-end and will allow the business to reach nameplate capacity in the new financial year.”

COAL SALES AND MINE PERFORMANCE

Sales volumes increased by 110%, supported by increased sales in Botswana and internationally in South Africa and Namibia. Sales for June 2021 exceeded 56 000 tonnes, a record since the inception of the mine, with pricing increasing late in the financial year on the back of buoyant international prices and a strengthening ZAR.

Minergy also concluded a further 12-month off-take agreement to the existing off-take agreement, with a further agreement finalised post year end.

Overburden moved during the reporting period increased by 86% and extracted coal by 50%. Coal mined in June 2021 alone exceeded 100 000 tonnes. “This is a good performance considering the challenges faced such as sacrificing pre-stripping activities for a period to manage arrears, excessive rain and COVID-19,” du Plessis indicated.

“The wash plant was initially starved of coal due to the factors noted already. Despite this, overall plant throughput performance was 37% higher than 2020. Consistent output was supported by the completion of the Stage 2 rigid crushing section as well as the water saving dewatering screen with filter press contributing to a reduction in water usage of 60% per tonne of coal. A record throughput of more than 84 000 tonnes was achieved in March 2021 and this consistency has been maintained.”

OUTLOOK

According to du Plessis, the completion of Stage 4 of the Processing Plant, the rigid screening and stock handling section, remains a key optimisation step, which has associated benefits. “The completion was unfortunately delayed by a southern African wide shortage of structural steel but was commissioned post year-end.”

Minergy expects the positive momentum in international coal pricing for southern African coal to remain in place. Higher coal prices have resulted in coal being withdrawn from the inland market in favour of lucrative international markets. Du Plessis added that the regional market is currently under- supplied with sized coal, which supports higher pricing and new customer opportunities for Minergy.

“Our objective for the 2022 financial year is to achieve nameplate capacity by completing final ramp-up of operations. This will enable the company to generate sufficient cash flow to stabilise the business at breakeven or better. The bullish coal market is also providing support. COVID-19 will still be closely managed, and we look forward to the lifting of the State of Emergency, as announced, and trust that vaccination programmes will achieve herd immunity in Botswana during the next 12 months.”

Du Plessis expressed his excitement on prospects stating that, “The Eskom due diligence process is continuing, and we are hopeful of receiving feedback during the current financial year. In addition to this opportunity, Minergy is also investigating participation in the request by the Government of Botswana to provide a 300MW power station for which the company has been shortlisted.”

The approved process to issue shares for cash is showing positive leads and he concluded by saying that a listing in London is still being investigated.

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