Business Writer REARABILWE RAMAPHANE puts his head on the bloc and vows that these executives impressed him in 2017. He adds them to his 2016 list which was spearheaded by Thapelo Tsheole of the Botswana Stock Exchange.
1. ANTHONY MASUNGA
Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) has done great service to the localization theme. BTCL is the country‘s home grown ICT and telecommunication service provider. Masunga picked up the reins from Briton industry expert, Paul Taylor last year after the then wholly government owned Corporation transformed to a limited company and listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE). When he took over the driving seat on acting basis BTCL shares were poorly performing in the market to an extent that pre-listing naysayers and critics of privatization were saying ‘I told so’ to Hundreds of Batswana who had purchased the BTCL shares.
By the look of things then it was as if BTCL board of directors would go out to scout for an international expert to replace Taylor, however the Board took a bold decision and Anthony Masunga ascended to the helm of Megaleng House as CEO on permanent basis. He presided over the transition of the corporation into a corporate household name. The company rebranded to merge its beMobile & BTC fixed operations into one brand BTCL.
Within the blik of an eye, Masunga’s captainship saw BTCL share price quickly return to glory, bringing back investor confidence. By March this year BTC was the best performing stock on the BSE. Full year financial results as of march 2017 indicate that BTCL registered a massive 164% growth in profits before tax.
The company has created over P241.5 million wealth since listing and has distributed P90.3million in dividends to shareholders by March 2017. Masunga stirred the company to 12 % growth in profit after tax for 6 months trading period ended 30th September. His leadership has introduced a number of changes. The company currently has a market capitalization of almost 2 billion and considerably doing well on the stock market currently trading at around P.160 per thebe compared to its initial offering of P1 per share. BTC has recently introduced customer centered services and engaged international companies on broadband internet and other ICT offerings. Certainly Masunga is doing things right at Megaleng House.
Masunga has BSC in Computer Science from the HYPERLINK "https://www.linkedin.com/edu/mcgill-university-10890?trk=ppro_sprof" McGill University MBA, Business Administration from De Montfort University and an Executive Development Program certificate from University of Stellenbosch Business School .He joined BTC from Mascom wireless as founding general manager of Be Mobile growing through the ranks until stirring the entire BTC Group.
2. LEINA GABARAANE
Renowned Botswana banker and home grown top executive, Leina Gabaraane has been at the helm of Stanbic Bank Botswana for the past 10 years and he is heading for the same post but at a bigger market space at the group’s Zambian operation. Gabaraane will take the reigns as Stanbic Bank Zambia Chief Executive Officer effective 18th January. He has led Stanbic Botswana to glory since his rise to the top post in 2008; in 2011 the bank was named Bank of the year in Botswana.
In 2017 Gabaraane delivered top performance in the corporate and investment banking space to the extent that he was head hunted by International banks including Stanbic Namibia. “Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to drive strong performance in line with the Group’s strategy and has continued to yield growth with each financial year. In addition, Stanbic Bank Botswana is one of the leading performers across the regional footprint, with a remarkably well performing Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) division,” an expression of confidence from Standard Bank Group Head of CIB, Clarkson.
Defying the odds Gabaraane’s cash spinning drive saw Stanbic Bank Botswana pay one of the highest dividends to its mother company, South African run Standard Bank . The bank won 2017 Best Foreign Exchange Provider in Botswana according to Global Finance Magazine. An accolade they also won in 2013, 2014, 2015 and last year.
Leina Gabaaane holds a B.Comm (UB) and an MBA in International Banking and Finance (University of Birmingham). His career started with the Botswana Development Corporation in 1995 where he joined as Assistant Operations Officer responsible for business development, project evaluation and monitoring.
3. PROFESSOR OTLOGETSWE TOTOLO.
Finally something is evidently happening at the Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BUIST) after challenges during formative and setup years. Former Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs at the University of Botswana took the reins and became the first Motswana to be entrusted with leading the historic academic institution. Professor Totolo looks determined to turn BUIST into what it was originally set out to be. BIUST was crafted to be a world class and leading research and development, innovation, science & technology center – Professor Totolo seems to be rhyming well.
BUIST held its first graduation in February this year, where its Vice Chancellor, former president, Dr Festus Gontebanye Mogae donated 1 million pula for best student, with the latter to win between 20 000-50 000 in 50 years. Professor Totolo has put BUIST in the research and development, innovation science and technology space. The University conducts interactive workshops and dialogues with key stakeholders swell as the Palapye community in seeking solutions for environmental and economic problems.
As soon as he took the reins in September 2016, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo revealed ambitious strategy that will include substantial investment on research and development, human resource capability and collaboration with the industry. The strategic plan envisages that the university will be at par with the world’s top universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oxford University and Harvard University among others by the year 2022 producing 6000 scientists and engineers by then.
Professor Totolo has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the University of Botswana; Master of Science (MSc) from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom; Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the University of London (UK).
He is an outstanding and seasoned university administrator, a brilliant scholar and an internationally renowned Soil Scientist. Totolo was also Director of the Center for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation (Cesrlki); Dean of Faculty of Science; Head of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana and other numerous positions that he served in. He serves on the BTRI board of directors amongst other key science and research institutions.
4. MATLHOGONOLO LETSOPA MPONANG
Ms Matlhogonolo Letsopa Mponang is the Deputy Executive Director- Corporate Services at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). She deals with issues of Finance, Human Resources, Facilities and Procurement, Information Communication and Technology, Marketing and Communications, Student Affairs as well as Administration.
Ms Mponang has worked for BTC as Training and Human Resource Development Manager; LEA as a Human Resource Practitioner and then Human Resource Manager; Public Enterprise and Evaluation Privatization Agency (PEEPA) as a Human Resource Manager; and most recently at the Water Utilities Corporation as a Human Resource and Administration Director. She currently sits on the Boards of the Okavango Diamond Company and Associated Fund Administrators.
This year she makes it to this list of 2017 top executives; she played a pivotal role as a member of the Progressive Institute in hosting international speakers, including Kenyan Law professor, PLO Lumumba. At BAC, Botswana’s premier business school, Mponang leads in crafting industry ready graduates. She is an advocate of industry ready graduates. Human resources capacity building is dear to her heart, and has assembled key associates to deliver on this goal.
One can say by profession she is a Human Resource expert considering her previously held positions. Mponang organizes interactive platforms for young scholars bringing in captains of industries to inspire and transform mindsets of prospective young entrepreneurs and Future business leaders. She has a B.Sc in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. She is a seasoned Human Resource Practitioner who has operated in several environments being- government and most notably the public enterprise landscape
5. PIUS MOLEFHE
The Managing Director of Botswana Building Society is probably one of the less talked about but effective executives in Botswana. He has been leading the BBS for several years with impressive performances. However time has arrived to change the business model because BBS needs to catch up with innovative and digital financial service space operations of today. Pius Molefhe is set to make history by leading BBS to become Botswana’s first home grown commercial bank.
The society members gave Molefhe and his team a go ahead in a move that seeks to demutualize BBS and transform it into a limited company held by shares. BBS is the leading service provider of mortgage credit in Botswana. Mr. Molefe has served as Non-Executive Director of Cresta Marakanelo Limited. He previously worked for Barclays Bank of Botswana and Ministry of Finance among others.
At the Ministry of Finance, he was involved in the handling of all development projects. He was further involved in the development of policies regulating the financial services sector. He was also involved in the establishment of the Botswana Stock Exchange and also served as a Member of the Exchange main Board. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.
PROMISING EXECUTIVE: MESHACK TSHEKEDI
He is the Acting CEO of Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC). Tshekedi took over the reins from Letsebe Sejoe last year. Tshekedi successfully launched Botswana’s One Stop Center. One his challenging tasks after taking over was the BITC signature event, an event that brings together multi sectoral international business participants – the Global Expo. His leadership delivered a well-organized Global Expo with over least 500 delegates and 200 exhibitors from Botswana and abroad.
The Expo featured among others, Global Entrepreneur and philanthropist English Billionaire, Sir Richard Branson. Tshekedi’s career commenced in 1997 as a Research Assistant, a position he held for several companies including University of Missouri, Department of Water Affairs and the University of Botswana. He worked for Debswana Diamond Company as Junior Process Engineer in 2002 and was later engaged by Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), a subsidiary of SABMiller as Strategic Planning Manager and Cash & Carry Manager.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION ESTER KANAIMBA-SENAI
Outgoing Debswana Communications & Corporate Affair Manager retires after 40 years of splendid career. A radio journalist by training, she got her professional credits from the Tanzania School of Journalism back in the early 80s and then went on to the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa, Canada as a Commonwealth Scholar where she completed her Master of Journalism degree.
She started work at Radio Botswana in 1974, attended a basic radio production course at the BBC World Service Training Centre in London in 1978. Kanaimba-Senai rose through the ranks until she became Assistant Director, News and Current Affairs, responsible for the production of news and all current affairs programmes. She was also responsible for starting and launching of RB2 back in 1992 as its inaugural Assistant Director.
Kanaimba-Senai then left the public service and joined the Botswana National Productivity Centre(BNPC at a Promotions Manager, then moved on to the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community as the Head of Public Relations. She also worked at the Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA) now BITC before joining Debswana in 2008.
At a farewell dinner organized by Debswana last week Debswana Group Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo described Kanaimba-Senai as a professional perfectionist who mentored her employees. Bonyongo said Debswana would engage Esther Senai’s services whenever need arises.
THE ACCOLDES AWARDED HERE WERE NOT FROM ANY CONDUCTED STUDY OR SCIENTIFIC RESERCH, BUT WAS MADE FROM MEDIA PUBLICATIONS ABOUT THE AFORE MENTIONED CEO’S. OUR VIEWS ARE NOT ABSOLUTE WE DO NOT CLAIM ANY INTELLECTUAL MONOPOLY ON ANALYSIS OR RANKING BUSINESS LEADERS.
Government has made some adjustments0 in fiscal policy, as some taxes and levies are to be imposed from the beginning of March this year. It is expected that effective 1st March 2021, government will announce an increase on fuel levy followed by increases in tax items including VAT and tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
FILL UP AND PAY CAESAR TOO AMID FUEL CRISIS
Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security in 2017 approved 17.5 thebe per litre which will be in addition to the already existing fuel levy of 13.5 thebe per litre. Apparently Botswana consumes 1.2 billion litres of petroleum products and the levy could raise P210 million per annum which could be used to; purchase of stocks for Botswana Oil Limited, meet insurance premiums for government oil storage facilities and construction of other strategic storage facilities around the country.
According to investment manager Kgori Capital, the new tax might not immediately lead to an increase in fuel pump prices as the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) might be able to cushion the effect of the tax in the short term. Kgori Capital said this however could see increased outflows from the fund which could be unsustainable over the long term.
Recently government released a ‘National Fuel Supply Update’ announcing that the shutdown of three refineries in South Africa, making Botswana look elsewhere to increase sourcing from alternative suppliers. As assurance government stated that it is currently able to meet fuel demand, that back-up is available, it would only be deployed if the situation deteriorates.
Other determinants of fuel price dynamics could be the Rand vs US Dollar. This week on Thursday the Rand rallied for another day, retaining gains from the previous day, as risk appetite stayed high on hints that the new US administration would be in support of a huge stimulus to uplift the economy.
On Thursday commodity news oil prices were supported for yet another day on Wednesday, climbing above US$56 per barrel in mid-afternoon trading, supported by expectations that the incoming US administration would approve a large stimulus package to boost the economy and in turn support oil demand.
According to stockbroker Motswedi Securities, also supporting the commodity’s pricing were ongoing supply cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as expectations that US crude inventories are forecast to decline for the week ended 15 January 2021.
Last week the FNBB researchers said they expect a possibility of a rebound in oil prices as economic activity recovers this year. FNBB said it is probable that fuel prices will be increased to mimic international oil price movements.
First National Bank of Botswana Quantitative Analyst, Gomolemo Basele, in his recent analysis of December inflation, said over the course of this year inflation should receive some upward pressure from volatile items, particularly the transport group index as the fuel levy is anticipated to increase from P0.12 to P1.12, effective 1st March 2021.“We also expect further pressures on the administered prices of water and electricity, as well as increases in tax items,” said Basele on behalf of his FNBB economy research team.
VAT TO GO UP SOONER THAN EXPECTED, JOB LOSSES
Amid being met with a lot of opposition, FNBB expect an increase in VAT from 12 percent to 14 percent, effective 1st April 2021. Last year permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Wilfred Mandlebe told Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances (PCGA) that as part of economic recovery from Covid-19 shocks, VAT will be increased from 12 percent to 14 percent in the next financial year.
This is despite Basele in his December inflation report warning that the demand side will remain muted this year as the bulk of Botswana’s labour force will be faced with unemployment challenges as well as pressures on disposable income levels due to diminished economic activity.
State of Emergency which bars employers to lay off employees might end the same time when government imposes an increase in VAT, this is why FNBB expects inflation to average 2.8 percent in 2021 and anticipate that the Bank of Botswana will remain accommodative this year and cut the bank rate by 25 basis point.
INTRODUCTION OF SUGAR LEVY
The beginning of the next financial year will see tax on sugar-sweetened beverages be 2 thebe per gram over and above 4 grams per 100 millilitres. This tax will be implemented by a Statutory Instrument to be issued by Ministry of Trade and Investment.
According to World Bank last year September, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are non-alcoholic beverages that contain caloric sweeteners, such as sucrose (sugar) or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). SSBs include carbonated soft drinks (carbonates), energy drinks, concentrates or syrups, sports drinks, less than 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices such as juice drinks or nectars, ready-to-drink teas and coffees, sweetened waters, and milk-based drinks.
SSBs are said to be the main factors of overweight and obesity which leads to a number of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, diabetes, and at least 12 cancers (cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, kidney, prostate, colorectal, endometrium, ovaries, and post-menopausal breast).
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2018, President Mokgweetsi Masisi blamed the increasing incidence of people who are overweight and obese amongst the Botswana population on the increased consumption of sugar sweetened products, especially beverages.
HOUSING INFLATION TO SOAR INTO THE NEXT FINANCIAL YEAR
Botswana Housing Corporation is expected to rise to the occasion this year by taking more from Batswana pockets in the coming financial year. The housing utility will adjust rentals by more than 100 percent margin effective 1st April 2021.
This could further spike future inflation into the housing and utilities group index which in December registered a rise of 0.3% m/m owing to higher costs associated with materials for the maintenance and repair of dwellings (0.9% m/m).
INFLATION TO REMAIN SUBDUED AND UNDER THE OBJECTIVE RANGE
The December 2020 inflation remained unchanged at 2.2%, bringing the 2020 inflation average to 1.9%. While Basele believes the 2021 inflation should receive some upward pressure from volatile items, particularly the transport group index as the fuel levy is anticipated to increase from, he said the demand side will remain muted this year as the bulk of Botswana’s labour force will be faced with unemployment challenges as well as pressures on disposable income levels due to diminished economic activity.
This moves FNBB to expect inflation to be just below the 3-6 objective range and be lower at 2.8 percent, the bank’s researchers further anticipate that the Bank of Botswana will remain accommodative this year and cut the bank rate by 25bp.
Botswana Government through Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security (MMGE) has underscored its intention to support power generation through Coal-Bed- Methane (CBM).
This week Tlou Energy, one of the publicly listed companies exploring CBM power generation revealed in a circular to shareholders that the Ministry’s commitment to support the industry was a significant push to its ambitions.
Tlou Energy is focused on delivering power solutions to Botswana and southern Africa to alleviate some of the chronic power shortage in the region. The company is currently developing projects using gas and plans to add solar power projects to provide a cleaner power source. Botswana has a significant energy shortage and generally relies on imported power and diesel generation to fulfill its power requirements.
Last year Tlou Energy and state owned Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) singed a Pilot Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the first 2 Mega Watts of power from the Lesedi project. A grid connection agreement was also signed which enables the injection of power into the BPC grid.
These according to Tlou are key agreements that will facilitate development of the power project and the sale of first power. The company says things are promising for a larger power purchase agreement. The BSE listed energy outfit revealed that, “Botswana’s Ministry of Mineral Resources Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE) has provided confirmation that negotiations on a larger PPA are due to commence in February.”
Tlou’s Managing Director, Mr Tony Gilby commented, “It is great to see that Botswana is open for business and the Government is motivated to get the gas industry up and running.” Gilby revealed that his company plans to start development of the Lesedi project as soon as possible noting that “confirmation of the Government’s enthusiasm to provide the necessary support to ensure commercial development of CBM is very well received.”
“In addition, we have also recommenced negotiations with Botswana based project financiers this month as we aim to close a deal for funding as soon as possible. After what was an extremely challenging year the Company is already making progress in 2021 and anticipate further advancement on all fronts in the coming term. We look forward to updating the market with further developments in due course,” he said.
Tlou said it has received written confirmation from MMGE of the “intention of MMGE to fast track the development of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) in Botswana.” MMGE also stated that it is “happy to provide the necessary support to ensure commercial development of CBM.”
In relation to the current tender to implement up to 100MW of CBM fired power plants MMGE has stated that negotiations with preferred bidders are due to commence in February 2021. The letter also acknowledged that the “Government is fully committed to seeing this project coming to fruition, as it will promote the gas industry, contribute toward import substitution, as well as to improve the livelihood of Batswana.”
“We welcome this update and look forward to negotiation and finalization of the tender process in the near term,” Tlou Energy Directors said.In 2018, MMGE issued a Request for Proposal for Development of up to 100 Mega Watts of CBM fueled power plants in Botswana.
Tlou submitted a comprehensive response to the tender including a plan to develop the project in stages, as well as outlining project feasibility, proposed field development, installation of power generation facilities and supply of power into the grid in Botswana.
Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) has suspended its operations indefinitely owing to the tough trading conditions occasioned Government decision to ban the sale of alcohol at the beginning of this month.
The brewer announced the decision today (Wednesday). KBL Corporate Affairs Manager Madisa said from the 25th January 2021 only a minimal number of critical roles will continue to be staffed and all other operational activity will stop.
KBL also acknowledged the impact this will have on the overall supply chain and those whose livelihoods depend on the beer industry and requests their understanding.
The current ban is expected to end on 31st January 2021, KBL said should the ban be extended past this date, suspension of its operations will continue.
KBL explained that its Tuesday meeting with suppliers was to align with them that due to the current situation, the brewer will suspend payments as of 6th February 2021, up for review pending the outcome of the current alcohol ban.
“However, it is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL’s operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” said Madisa.
On Tuesday afternoon, KBL conducted an ‘emergency meeting’ with its suppliers addressing some business decisions the company has made amid the current alcohol ban. Botswana has several alcohol bans since the first lockdown of March.
Mostly alcohol has been banned as a measure of curtailing the spread of Covid-19 and government then lived with putting stringiest operating hours for alcohol sales and distribution for a long time. Next week Monday KBL will be shutting down its operations, after a two weeks ban on liquor.
Sources say ever since the 4th of January 2021 when the December curfew regulations were extended, KBL has been brewing stacks of liquor for stockpiling. This is solely the reason why the brewer decided to close shop and stop manufacturing alcohol, because KBL’s depots no longer needed supply. On Tuesday suppliers were told to stop supplying KBL as next week the plant will be closing.
Air of uncertainty was hovering in the KBL plant premises on Tuesday as many workers feared mostly for their jobs. No one knows when alcohol ban will be lifted or if Botswana is going for a hard lockdown following the recent surge of Covid-19 infections. Botswana has 18,630 coronavirus cases, with 88 deaths and 14,624 recoveries.
KBL owner Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed Sechaba Holdings came into contact with response to Covid-19 in March when Botswana recorded its first cases and that was the time when the company was doing well for years since the shedding of alcohol levy.
Sechaba associates, KBL and Coca Cola Beverages Botswana (CCBB), that time according to the holding company in its abridged financial results for the year ended 31 December 2019, continued to forecast growth in 2020 notwithstanding the challenges related to COVID-19.
Sechaba that time saw the business environment has been generally positive including relationship with stakeholders and the associates continue to manage the performance and business continuity risks.
Ten months ago the brewer underestimated the damage that can come with the pandemic and expected Covid-19 disruptions to be “temporary and the business will survive.”
That time Sechaba’s sole associate, KBL operates traditional beer breweries, alcoholic fruit beverages and a clear beer brewery.
In the period that just ended in December 2019, KBL contributed 72 percent to Sechaba’s revenues while CCBB contributed 28 percent. KBL also performed high in contribution to profit after tax with a share of 74 percent while CCBB contributed 26 percent.
Sechaba holds 49.9 percent in the local headline alcohol brewer KBL and 49.9 percent in the non-alcoholic drinks associate, CCBB. Sechaba holds 60 percent of the shares of KBL while SABMiller Botswana B.V. holds 40 percent. SABMiller Plc has management control in the operating company. The Botswana Development Corporation has a 25.6 percent shareholding in Sechaba Breweries Holdings Limited.
The glitter on the glass of KBL or Sechaba, is of December 2019 financial results which was downplayed and turned into a bearish affair in the financial results for the half year ended 30 June 2020. For those results, there was a spill in profit by Sechaba cash cow KBL by 72 percent while CCBB recorded a decline in profit by 15 percent, both and respectively in correspondence with the same period in 2019. All this downfall comes down to a loss of 60 percent of profit by the parent company. That was more than the 60 percent fall expected before the release of results.
In September during the release of the June 2020 results, Sechaba admitted that the intervention put by government since April, to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, negatively impacted its business performance and its associates, KBL and CCBB bore the full brunt. Revenue collected for KBL was lower by 37 percent while for its sister associate; CCBB, the numbers were down by 7.1 percent. This is the time when sale of alcohol was banned and manufacturing of soft drinks was not part of essential services.
Sechaba Chairman, Bafana Molomo last year said even though Covid-19 interventions would have an impact on the associates, this impact is expected to be temporary and the businesses will survive.
“However, it is advised that the situation is changing constantly and that it will be monitored closely. The Group’s associates continue to forecast growth in 2020 notwithstanding the challenges relating to Covid-19. The business environment has been generally positive, and the Group continues to enhance relationships with all stakeholders. The associates continue to manage the performance and business continuity risks,” he said.