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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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Inflation spike building further upwards

27th October 2020
Inflation spike

In the coming months prices will go up and inflation will shoot sharply above the target of 3 percent to 6 percent towards the third quarter of 2021, the Bank of Botswana on the other hand will continue to withhold its knife on the Bank Rate. This is according to a forecast made by Kgori Capital in its recent Market Watch Segment.

Statistics from Statistics Botswana show that the recent 1.8 percent increase in the September inflation, from 1 percent in August, was a reflection of the upward adjustment in public transport fares (Transport (from -6.9 to -3.9 percent) in September 2020, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.64 percentage points.

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Plans to erase Edgars, Jet trademark from Botswana malls underway

27th October 2020
Edgars Jet trademark

Local anti-trust body, Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA), this month received back to back acquisition proposals from South African clothing retailers to wipe out their former rivals, Edcon, from Botswana malls.

Last week BusinessPost was in possession of Merger Notice No 23 of 2020 whereby a South African clothing retailer owner, Retailability Proprietary Limited, through Oclin Proprietary Limited, proposed to acquire parts of the Edgars business conducted by Edcon in Botswana (through Edcon Botswana), as a going concern, consisting of certain assets and identified liabilities.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year announced that Retailability will buy Edgars, after the latter filed for a business rescue plan in April after it failed to pay suppliers. This move will see Retailability add Edgars to its portfolio consisting of brands such as; Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style.

Retailability landed on Botswana shores 18 years ago with its flamboyant urban fashion Style which had 17 stores. Style, having almost the same target market as Edgars as it offers men’s and ladies’ contemporary and formal fashion, gave the 91 year old legendary clothing retailer a run for its money, and has won the battle as its parent company has taken over Edgars.

Retailability brands are synonymous with Botswana shopping centres and there are currently five (5) Beaver Canoe stores, 10 Style stores and seven (7) Legit stores across this country. The Beaver Canoe stores sell clothing apparel for men and boys only. The Legit stores have a fashion store format which focuses on the retailing of clothing, footwear, accessories, colour cosmetics and cellular products.

Retailability operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Many observers suggest that because of the deal with Retailability to swallow Edcon, most Edgars stores in Botswana will change their name and be branded Style. A sad tale for religious consumers of the Edgars trademark who got used to love their favourite brand for years.

According to CCA’s Merger Notice No 23 of 2020, Retailability is controlled by Clifford Raymond Lines (through a company which functions solely as a holding company of his interests in Retailability) and Metier Investment and Advisory Services Proprietary Limited (“Metier”). Metier is a private equity enterprise with investments in a number of industries spanning from healthcare, hospitality, FMCGs and telecommunications.

Retailability directors are mostly South Africans; Clifford Raymond Lines, Mark Richard Friday and Norman Victor Drieselmann. Only Nasreen Essack, who was appointed February this year, is a Motswana. He comes after Brian Thuto Tsima left on the same date. Retailability 100 percent owns Oclin Proprietary Limited, the company it is acquiring Edgars with, by a capacity of 3000 shares.

The target business, Edgars, offer textiles, cosmetics and cellular products. Edcon has a Motswana director, Charles Mzwandile Vikisi, a South African, Shane Van Niekerk and Zimbabwean Jethro Kamutsi.

“The Target Business comprises of two (2) Edgars franchise brands and private label stores across Botswana. These stores target middle to upper income customers and are home to a range of private label brands such as Free2BU, Charter Club and Stone Harbour, and a wide range of market label brands (such as Levi’s and Guess) for clothing, footwear and cosmetics.

In addition, the Target Business operates iconic Edgars Home and Edgars Beauty stores as store-in-store formats rounding out the department store offering in Botswana,” said CCA.
Foshini also lines up to take Jet Botswana from Edcon.

The Foschini Group (TFG) released a statement confirming its latest intentions to acquire Edcon assets or Jet for a cash purchase consideration of R480 million. This was after the business rescue practitioners offered TFG to buy Jet by that amount.

CCA is currently mulling on a proposed merger by TFG to take over Jet operations in Botswana. Merger Notice No 21 of 2020 from TFG came a few days before the Retailability proposal. In this merger TFG, acting through Foschini Botswana, want to take over “parts” of the Jet business conducted by Edcon through Jet Supermarkets Botswana.

TFG will be willing to add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents. TFG will also get Jet’s distribution centre located in Durban and certain stores in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini. Also part of this fat deal is that the company is looking to also acquire JET Club and all existing JET stock of no less than R800 million.

Johannesburg listed TGF owns Foschini Retail Group which owns the local operations called Foschini Botswana, the acquiring enterprise according to CCA merger notice. “TFG is not controlled by any enterprise/s and for completeness, the three largest shareholders of TFG holding shares greater than 5% as at 27th March 2020 are: Government Employees Pension Fund (16.2%) Public Investment Corporation (13.2%); Old Mutual Limited (6.7%); and Investec Asset Management (6.3%). The remaining issued share capital in TFG is widely held,” said the merger notice.

Only Abdool Rahim Khan is a Motswana in the Foschini Botswana directorship, the rest; Ganeswari Shani Naidoo, Anthony Edward Thunström and Gustav Jansen (alternate director) are South Africans.

According to the CCA merger, the Jet Business is Edcon’s discount department store division, selling clothing, footwear, homeware and some cosmetics as well as cellular products and targets lower-to-middle income consumers throughout Botswana. The Jet Business does not directly or indirectly control any enterprises, says the notice. CCA seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication to the following address.

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BOCRA, associates to provide broadband internet in schools

27th October 2020

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA signed a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Ministries of Transport and Communications (MTC), Basic Education (MoBE) as well as Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).

The MoA seeks to continue the collaboration that dates back to 2016 when the three parties first agreed to work together in a project aimed at computerizing and providing broadband Internet to primary schools in remote and underserved areas of Botswana.

The project benefitted 68 primary schools and 9 secondary schools through the construction of Local Area Network (LAN) in each primary school, provision of 5 Mbps dedicated broadband Internet to each Primary School and provision of Wi-Fi enabled tablets, laptops and related peripherals such as printers and copiers.

Further, the project will see the augmentation of computers in 9 Junior Secondary Schools with 30 laptops per identified school and employment of Information Technology (IT) officers at each primary school.

When speaking at the signing ceremony in Gaborone, Chief Executive of BOCRA and Chairperson of Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) Board of Trustees Martin Mokgware said the project’s ultimate goal is to facilitate pupils in schools and host villages to be able to play a meaningful role in the digital economy.

Mokgware indicated that this necessitates upgrading of existing Telecommunications infrastructure to high capacity broadband that will support delivery of education, accessibility to the quality Internet and usage of ICTs.

The Fund began its inaugural programme by sponsoring the provision of WiFi hotspots in public areas around the country as its first project. Following the successful implementation of public WiFi hotspots, the Fund identified Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and Mabutsane areas for mobile network upgrades, schools computerization and internet provision.

Conscious that the project would not be possible without buy-in and support from MoBE, MTC and MLGRD, the Fund facilitated the signing of the first MoU between the three parties in 2016 for implementation of the project.

BOCRA Chief Executive said the signing of this agreement is aimed at benefitting the Kweneng District, adding that they have already assessed the area and have determined that they will be covering 62 underserved villages and 119 schools, 91 of which are primary schools.

“This is a project for which the partner Ministries need to re-commit for its success. Lessons from the previous schools’ computerization and internet connectivity project require that we increase our involvement and resources dedicated to the project for it to be successful. It is my belief as the project coordinator, that we will not do things the way we did them during the first project, for if we do, then we will not have learnt anything,” he said at the signing ceremony.

The purpose of learning is so that there can be continuous improvement to minimize the length of time and amount of resources utilized, he said expressing confidence that their partners will step up to the plate and ensure they play their part in the implementation of the project and that it will progress smoothly having already tread along a similar path.

UASF’s role lies mainly in funding and project management. According to Mokgware, once the project is completed, the work to integrate ICTs into the classroom begins in earnest. Therefore, he said, the project will not succeed without full cooperation and oversight of partners.

“MoBE will put in place the necessary content and ensure that the curriculum is available to all. MLGRD will provide, among others, the enabling environment by ensuring readiness of the school’s infrastructure and necessary security.”

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