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BITC reports 16 % performance decline

Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) has recorded a 16 % overall performance decline for their operational year 2016/17, the orghanisation’s annual report released last week has revealed.

According to the report, BITC, which operates as a parastatal under the Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) registered an overall performance of 74 %, the assessment is predominantly reliant on corporate delivery and return on investment – which takes appreciation of the BITC mandate and purpose. The 74 percent reflects a 16 percent performance decline compared to the 90 % realized in the 2015/16 year.

BITC solicited an excess of 3 billon pula in capital investment for the period under review taking the total of investment capitalization to over P10 billion since inception as reported by President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama in his State of the Nation Address(SONA) in November last year. “Our targeted investment promotion efforts resulted in a total capital investment of P3.08 billion,” reads the report.

According to the investment promotion arm the total capital investment achieved is attributed to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies which contributed P1.5 billion, while business  expansions injected P618 million;  and a domestic investments of P964 million was realized. The Financial and Business Services sector, which is one of priority sectors under BITC investment promotion mandate delivered a whooping P901.5 million, accounting for 29.24% of the total capital investment realized.

Reaffirming President Khama’s SONA words  ,BITC states that total employment of 3156 jobs resulted from these investments, which is an increment compared to 1709 jobs recorded in the 2015/16 operating year. “The majority of jobs were created through Domestic Investment and Expansions (2208), while FDI registered 948 jobs,” reveals the report.

To promote an export led economy, the BITC has established an export portfolio which is managed by the export promotion department. This is a very important segment of the BITC mandate as it facilitates and assists Botswana companies with reaching foreign markets which is vital for business growth considering the fact that Botswana only has a population of 2 million people. According to the BITC annual report the portfolio exceeded its target of P2.22 billion, reaching an export revenue totaling P2.23 billion.

“Existing local products were exported to new markets of Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, USA, Hong Kong and the European Union. In addition six (6) newly produced products were added to the export portfolio including forma packs (Namibia), aluminum windows and designs (RSA), latex male condoms (RSA), vinyl floor tiles (RSA), food cans (RSA) and Cellular phones (Mozambique),” reads the Chief Executive officer‘s statement in the annual report.

One of the key milestones last year was the launch of the One Stop Service Center which facilitates all requirements of prospective investors and foreign professionals seeking to established serious businesses in Botswana. Under this year’s review the BITC reveals that there were 381 government authorizations, out of which a total of 307 were approved. “The rejection rate at the BITC One Stop Shop stood at 6.6% in 2016/2017; we have made proposals to Government to create a Business Immigration Selection Board to make our work and residence processes and outcomes more predictable and with greater certainty.” 

“We continue to monitor and are alert to the competitiveness of competing African countries. Countries such as Mauritius and Rwanda lead the pack in providing a more conducive business climate and thus competitive environment for attracting investors. The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, through the BITC’s advocacy is working on enacting a Business Facilitation Law, which will look to confer a higher degree of predictability and certainty to outcomes with respect to all government authorizations.”

The issue of immigration policies and work and residence permit rejection has been noted by stakeholders and investment as a possible deterrent and sabotaging factor to Botswana‘s FDI efforts. This is so as asserted by speakers in different platforms that Botswana has considerable good economic & political environment but still ranks behind poor governed countries such the DRC and Mozambique in attracting foreign investors.

Chairman of the BITC Board, seasoned investment executive, Victor Senye, now a business man shared that his organization adopted a move towards a new strategic direction to drive performance and efficiency in approach. “This would look towards linking our corporate structure and aligning it to the new strategy, reviewing our on the-ground personnel to ensure that we have the right people with the appropriate skills to engage with our varied investors, as well as considering appointment of specialist private sector advisory counsel to the Board,” he said. Senye revealed that BITC will continue to inspect the markets and review the investment requisites and make well informed recommendations to Government.

FINACIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Parastatals and government agencies especially those that solely and/or heavily depend on government funding for operation are scrutinized time and again for lavish expenditures and less return on investment. Although the organization declined in performance, BITC has by far surpassed the annually monetary resources injected by taxpayers in the form of subvention funds as over P3 billion worth of business transaction was solicited.

However as of March 2017 BITC realized a deficit of P 20,784,835 which is largely contributed by Investment Property fair value loss amounting to P 29,314,072. According to the report the BITC Gaborone West Industrial factory shells alone realized a loss in value of P 8, 550,000 as a result of the subdued rental market.

“The overall subvention was yet again reduced by 1% during the financial year under review, which was geared towards alleviation of the financial meltdown of BCL. The more integrated approach to financing marketing and promotional activities contributed to the improvement in operational efficiencies and budget utilization was optimized at 95%, with a deficit of P 20,784,835 as at 31st March 2017.”

BITC is reliant on Government funding with an opportunity to generate a target of 15% of its budget requirement from internally generated sources such as the rental of factory shells and global expo income. For the year under review, the center managed to generate 16% from internal sources to meet its budgetary requirements. In the financial year ended March 2017, BITC was allocated a total subvention of P98, 830,560 which was reduced by 1% during the year by Government. BITC spent P52,362,408 on employees’ remuneration and over P8 million on the 2016 Global Expo amongst other expenses.

BITC was established by Government in 2012 as a merger of BEDIA and other business facilitation agencies, the organization is mandated and tasked with investment facilitation, promotion of private sector involvement as well as development of conducive environment for easy of doing business amongst others all in a bid to realize export led, diversified and significantly growing economy.

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Banking on Your Terms: Exploring the World of Self-Service Banking

23rd February 2024

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

 

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Business

Botswana records over P6 billion trade deficit

7th February 2024

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.

 

 

 

 

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Business

Business sector optimistic about 2024

7th February 2024

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. β€œHowever, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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