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.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.