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Zimbabwe woos Botswana investors

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has called on Botswana business community and Chambers of Commerce to consider his country as they expand their businesses.

Mnangagwa was speaking at the Botswana –Zimbabwe Business Forum on the sidelines of his state visit to Botswana this past Tuesday. He said the people of Zimbabwe will forever be grateful for the support they received from the government and people of Botswana during his country’s difficult times.  “We are bound together by a shared culture, history and geographically we are one, which should inspire us to work together in our national growth and economic development of our 2 countries,” he said.

Mnangagwa said the forum was critical in building on the goodwill that existed between the two countries adding that it was a good platform in complimenting the bilateral relations. “The gathering is most opportune in implementing the raft of incentives for economic growth and development in my country, Zimbabwe is open for business. We equally recognize the need to engage and re-engage for socio-economic development. We are determined to make sure that Zimbabwe is an investment nation where capital feels safe,” he said.

Mnangangwa who took over the reins after the military negotiated long time leader, Robert Mugabe out of power late last year, said his administration was alive to the fact that Zimbabwe needed to put robust economic transformation and revitalization strategies and reforms to return the country‘s economy to its glory days. “We have abundant investment opportunities in mining, manufacturing and infrastructure development sectors. We are inviting investors to come to the new Zimbabwe,” he said.

The President of Zimbabwe inherited a scattered economy with over 90 % unemployment rate. Western imposed sanctions have not been friendly to that country either. The Zimbabwe leader says over the years his country suffered lack of infrastructural development due to lack of foreign financing.

For his part the minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) Vincent Seretse noted that the Botswana –Zimbabwe Forum organized by the Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC ) presented a golden opportunity for the two countries to strengthen foundations and facilitate open networking for the business communities to take advantage of the abundant trade and investment opportunities.

“Our predecessors in government pioneered the great vision of developing strong economic links between our great countries and it is for this reason that today, we have trade facilitation instruments such as Botswana/Zimbabwe bilateral trade agreement, which allow for goods traded between our countries to be exempted from payment of customs duties, provided they meet the minimum requirement of 25 per cent local content,” he said.

Seretse said that Botswana’s manufacturing landscape comprised of several companies with Zimbabwean shareholding. He said the majority of them are operating in the timber and sugar packaging industries. “These companies have over the years invested around P132 million in Botswana, with an estimated annual turnover of P392 million, and they employed around 436 permanent employees, and an additional 436 part-time employees,” he said.


Minister Seretse noted that the aforementioned figures do not include one of the largest investments shareholding, in the mobile telecommunications sector by Zimbabwean billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa who is one of the major founding shareholders of Mascom, Botswana’s largest mobile network. Masiyiwa has since reduced his stake in Mascom with MTN Group and BPOPF the major shareholders.

The Botswana-Zimbabwe Business Forum saw experts and chambers of commerce representatives in different economic sectors from both countries present on existing business and investment opportunities. Major Highlights from the presentation are that lucrative investment opportunities in the mining sector exist in Zimbabwe. Isaac Kwesu of The Zimbabwean Chamber of Mines said his country was home to one of the largest Lithium and Chrome reserves in the world.

Other presenters, Richard Mbaiwa from the Zimbabwean Investment Authority revealed that the new administration of Zimbabwe was putting in place reforms such as no restriction on the amount of foreign currency brought into the country in order to attract foreign direct Investment.

He also added that  100 % repatriation of disinvestment proceeds , 100% remittance of dividends, Operation of local foreign currency accounts (FCA), Borrowing from local financial system for working capital purposes  as well as authorized permission on Offshore borrowing were amongst other incentives put in place and administered by the his organization to create a conducive environment for doing business in Zimbabwe.

Other presentations included that of Charles Siwawa of Botswana Chamber of Mines who shared that Botswana’s mining sector was still recovering from the liquidation of some major companies due to decline in global commodity prices in 2016. However he said opportunities existed in supply of materials and equipments as well as other value chain opportunities in the sector. Botswana authorities presented on the opportunities that existed in the SPEDU region urging Zimbabwean farmers to consider exploring the rich agricultural land in the Phikwe area. Zimbabwean business people were made were also made aware of other opportunities that existed in Botswana such as the cargo, transport and logistics.

The stand out moment at the forum was the signing of Memorandum of Understanding by Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) and ZimTrade on strengthening the relationship between the Parties and the private sectors of Zimbabwe and Botswana respectively. The MOU is set to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between the parties in matters of common interest and establish the working arrangements necessary for the implementation of the MOU; to collaborate with each other to promote and strengthen trade relations between public and private sector institutions and operators, in sectors to be mutually agreed, with a view to expand trade and economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana.

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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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