Home grown financial institution, Botswana Building Society (BBS) which is on process to becoming the country’s first indigenous bank, has secured a loan amounting to over 250 million pula from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to finance its expansion into financial inclusion products.
According to a statement from the institution dated 13th November, the IFC which is the sister company to World Bank under the World Bank Group will use its debut Kgalagadi Bond to finance the $25 million investment. It is expected that the support will enable the BBS to promote its financial inclusion quest and access to housing finance in Botswana. BBS is a traditional financing partner to ordinary and middle income earning Batswana with products tailored for low earning households and informal small entrepreneurs.
The investment comprises of a senior loan equivalent to $25 million in local currency. As Botswana Building Society demutualizes into a private holding company by shares, the long-term funding will support the transformation of the Society into a full-service commercial bank to enable change of business model to best suit underserved clients, including small and medium enterprises.
According to IFC the Kgalagadi Bond is the first local currency bond issued by a non-resident issuer in Botswana and also the first by a AAA rated institution in the country. “This is the first amortizing bond in the market, and forms part of the IFC Pan African Domestic Medium Term Note Program,” said Director of Treasury Client Solutions at the IFC, Mr. Keshav Gaur at the Bond listing in Gaborone this Wednesday
The Society prides itself in being the leading domestically owned financial institution and the largest residential mortgage lender in Botswana. In its transformation the Pius Molefhe led institution, will ensure that the envisaged bank enhances both its financial inclusion and housing finance initiatives and help it to compete more effectively against other larger local commercial banks in Botswana.
“The IFC investment will help to strengthen BBS’s financial stability and assist the demutualised Society to introduce new products and services for under-served market segments, including Small and Medium Enterprises,” states the press statement. According to Pius Molefe, Managing Director of Botswana Building Society the IFC support couldn’t have come at the right time. He highlighted the crucial importance of such resources as the society moves to be the first home grown commercial bank in Botswana. “We welcome IFC’s support to our transformation strategy. The financing will enable us to offer conventional banking products at more competitive rates, making us a stronger player in the market,” he said.
Oumar Seydi, IFC Regional Director for Africa reiterated that his corporation supported clients by mobilizing private capital to create, deepen and expand markets. “Financial inclusion and growing SMEs are a key focus of IFC interventions, job creation and their significant impact in reshaping markets.”
“IFC financing to Botswana Building Society will improve access to finance for job-creating for small and medium enterprises. The bond issuance will mobilize long-term funds in the capital market and channel them to BBS, consistent with our strategy to create markets that promote growth,” he added.
The executives of the IFC and the BBS underscored that their organizations recognized home ownership as a key source of wealth creation for low and medium income earners, noting that in Sub-Saharan Africa access to mortgages and other forms of financing for purchasing homes was limited. In Botswana, only two percent of the population has used housing finance, as most households still use non-mortgage credit.
IFC is providing long-term funding and eliminating obstacles to the development of an enabling environment for affordable housing by supporting mortgage refinancing companies across the continent. The International Finance Corporation head quartered in Washington DC, United State is a sister organization of the World Bank and a member of the World Bank Group. It is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Latest figures show that the company delivered a record of $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity
The BBS’s demutualization was given the green light by the society members in August this year. The management, led by Molefe was authorized to transform the organization into Botswana’s first home grown commercial bank. It is expected that BBS will, after fully transforming into a private shareholder held company, list on the Botswana Stock Exchange. Established on the 13th of December 1976 the society has grown tremendously to become an indigenous household name for financial services especially amongst low and middle income Batswana.
The exceptional growth of the Society over the past 41 years can best be measured by the phenomenal increase in its reserves, from only P2, 100 in March 1977 to just under P203 million in March 2012. The Statutory reserve alone increased from a mere P200 to almost P2, 460 billion over this period. If funding from key financial institutions like IFC, the demutualization looks set and the Pius Molefe lead team is ready to make history. BBS is expected to be a commercial bank by the first quarter of 2018.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”