De Beers Group of Companies preliminary financial results for the year ending 2017 show a positive trend. The underlying Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 2% to $1, 435 million from $1, 406 million in 2016 despite lower revenue following the- off industry midstream restocking in 2016.
The performance was driven by improved margins, which benefited from lower unit costs, a strong contribution from Canada and Element Six. This was partially offset by unfavourable exchange rates, and an increasing proportion of waste mining costs being mining costs being expensed rather than capitalised at Venetia in South Africa.
Total revenue declined by 4% to $5. 8 billion compared to $6.1 billion recorded in 2016 as expected, given the benefit of strong midstream restocking in the first half of 2016. The average realised rough diamond price increased by 13% to $162 /carat compared to 187/carat recorded in 2016, partly offset by an 8% increase in consolidated sales volume to 32. 5 million carats compared to 30. 0 million carats recorded in 2016.
When presenting the results, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales Executive Vice President, Paul Rowley said this reflected stronger demand for lower value goods in Sight 1 of 2017, following recovery from the initial impact of India’s demonetization programme in late 2016, as well as the production ramp- up from lower value per carat but high margin operations, including Orapa and Gahcho Kué. The lower-value mix was compensated in part by a higher average rough price index, which was 3% above that of 2016.
The 2017 financial results shows that capital expenditure has reduced by 48% to $273 million, mainly owing to the completion of major projects, including Gahcho Kué; Debmarine Namibia’s new exploration and sampling vessel, the SS Nujoma; and planned lower waste capitalisation at Venetia. The SS Nujoma which was delivered three months ahead of schedule and under budget, was officially inaugurated in June 2017 and is fully operational.
Diamond producers’ primary stocks are estimated to have reduced during the first half of 2017, as sentiment in the midstream improved and rough and polished inventories normalized for businesses in this segment of the value chain. However as a result of US retailers tightly managing their inventories and the earlier timing of Diwali in India, there was a slight seasonal build- up of polished inventory in the midstream going into the fourth quarter. Overall, early indications are that additional consumer marketing undertaken during the main selling season had positive impact on overall polished inventories.
The operating performance in terms of mining and manufacturing shows that rough diamond production increased by 22% to 33. 5 million carats compared to 27. 3 million carats recorded in 2016, reflecting stronger underlying trading conditions as well as the contribution from the ramp- up of Gahcho Kue.
Botswana (Debswana) increased production by 11% to 22. 7 million carats compared to 20. 5 million cats recorded in 2016. Production at Orapa was 28% higher, mainly driven by planned increases in plant performance and the ramp- up of Plant 1, which was previously on partial care and maintenance in response to trading conditions in late 2015. In June 2017, Jwaneng processed its first ore from Cut- 8, which is expected to become the mine’s main source of ore during 2018.
In Namibia (Namdeb Holdings), production increased by 15% to 1.8 million carats (2016: 1.6 million carats), primarily owing to higher production from Debmarine Namibia’s Mafuta vessel, driven by higher mining rates following an extended scheduled in-port during 2016. At Namdeb’s land operations, production rose by 6%, despite challenging conditions, including grade variability owing to the nature of alluvial deposits, structural cost pressures, and some operations nearing the end of their lives.
In South Africa (DBCM), production increased by 23% to 5.2 million carats (2016: 4.2 million carats), primarily owing to Venetia, driven by higher grades as well as improved operational performance benefiting tonnes treated. Construction continues on the Venetia Underground mine, which is expected to become the mine’s principal source of production during 2023.
In Canada, production increased to 3.8 million carats (2016: 1.0 million carats) owing to the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué, which entered commercial production in March 2017. During the year, Gahcho Kué benefited from higher than expected grades, partly offset by a lower average value of production. Owing to the differences in lobe characteristics across different kimberlite pipes, the average grade and realised price will continue to vary and will be dependent on the area mined.
Production at Victor increased by 21% to 0.7 million carats as a result of higher grades. Victor, which has been operating successfully since 2008, is due to close in 2019, when the open pit is expected to have been depleted. The closure of Snap Lake, which is currently on care and maintenance, is progressing, with flooding having been completed, thereby minimising holding costs while preserving the long term viability of the orebody.
Rowley said improving global macro- economic conditions remains supportive of consumer demand growth for polished diamonds in 2018. The degree of global economic growth, however, will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the extent of the positive impact on growth in consumer spending from US tax cuts, the strength of the dollar on consumer demand in non- dollar- denominated countries, and how successfully China manages its adjustment to a more domestic consumer- driven economy.
For 2018, forecast diamond production (on a 100% basis except Gahcho Kue on an attributable 51% basis) is expected to be in the range of 34- 36 million carats, subject to trading conditions. Meanwhile improving global macro-economic conditions remain supportive of consumer demand growth for polished diamonds in 2018. The degree of global economic growth, however, will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the extent of the positive impact on growth in consumer spending from US tax cuts, the strength of the dollar on consumer demand in non-dollar-denominated countries, and how successfully China manages its adjustment to a more domestic consumer-driven economy.
During 2017, De Beers invested more than $140 million in marketing (19% more than in 2016) through a combination of proprietary and partnership activity centred on the US, China and India. De Beers also substantially increased its investment in the Diamond Producers Association, a producer-wide body that works to enhance consumer demand by promoting the appeal, integrity and reputation of diamonds.
De Beers also began the development of a new digital platform for the diamond industry, backed by highly secure blockchain technology, which will provide a single immutable record for every diamond that is registered. Currently in the pilot phase, this initiative is being designed to underpin confidence in diamonds and the diamond industry for all stakeholders, while streamlining existing manual processes and creating new efficiencies in the value chain.
The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”
Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.
In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.
Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.
Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.
“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.