National mindset change has been touted as an important factor in Botswana’s journey to realizing its dream of being an investor friendly destination of choice.
This came to light at the 5th Botswana Investment & Trade Conference held in the sidelines of the 2017 Global Expo in Gaborone on Tuesday where international experts, academics and experienced business people in the area of trade, finance, economic and investment shared their thoughts and expertise on Botswana’s current Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction agenda and action plan, challenges and mitigation thereof.
Leading the plenary session titled “What paradigm shift is needed in order to position Botswana as a destination of Choice for FDI?” renowned international investment specialist & Managing Director of Quantum Global Research Lab, Switzerland Professor Mthuli Ncube said Botswana’s ranking in the African Investment Index is attractive to investors until they come to Botswana and get pushed away by a number of issues in the local business environment.
He said Botswana needed to package itself as a Southern African Investment Hub arguing that a country cannot remain a middle income state for decades whereas it has one of the best coal deposits in the world, has livestock population more than that of human population, stable political conditions and low interest rates as well as low exchange rate risks. Ncube said these factors and many others that distinguish Botswana from other African continents were more than enough to position Botswana as the best FDI destination globally.
Botswana has over 200 billion tonnes of coal deposits reserves. The former Investec Botswana Chief Executive Officer said Botswana must invest in its Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) capacity to have a readymade and easily interpreted framework on the concept of PPPs. He asserted that progressing middle income countries like Chile, Taiwan have explored the PPPs as an investment mechanism and it bore fruits.
Ncube further grilled Botswana on lack of skilled personnel for industrial investment undertakings like manufacturing, packaging and agro processing. “If an investor comes here and finds no job ready labour, looks next door in Namibia and finds the former they will take their money to the latter,” he said underscoring that Botswana needed to invest in rigorous skills development if it is to attract foreign investors.
“Government needs to take deliberate actions in resourcing and equipping the vocational & technical institutions, you cannot continue investing money in academic institutions that produce graduates that are unskilled and not job ready,” he said. He highlighted that progressive economies have invested billions in human capital and are training their young citizens to acquire trades and vocational technical knowhow not degrees and theoretical certificates.
He further wondered why Botswana, a country with over 3 million cattle and over 30 years multibillion pula beef industry continues to be behind countries like Ethiopia, Brazil and Namibia in the area of diversified livestock and beef industry value chains. “Why is Botswana lacking behind in exploring the leather business even up to date after so many years?” Why is Botswana not using this natural advantage?’’ he asked. According to the shrewd and learned investment expert Botswana has various initiatives at its disposal, such as the AGOA and USAID of which other African countries were already by far making use of.
He commented on the ease of doing business in Botswana saying there was still a lot more that needed to be done. “Together with neighbouring countries Botswana needs to look further into the issues of inter-border trade and advocate for one stop border as it actually reduces time and makes business easy.”
Botswana was also advised not to abandon the services sector, as a peaceful and political stable country the expert asserted that apart from wildlife and environmental events tourism, Botswana could look into the area of education and Health tourism to attract investors. He cited advanced economies like Dubai, noting that getting into private public partnerships to develop world-class health facilities and academic institutions can actually lead to an economic revolution.
Consulting Director, Public Sector & Government Consulting, at Frost & Sullivan (Singapore), Abhinnet Kaul observed that generally a mindset paradigm shift was pivotal. He shared the experience of Asian tigers observing that the major change in the quest to attract foreign investors was change of mindset by natives and the citizenry “everyone has to be at the party and actually understand what is at stake and actually move with the national course,’’ said Kaul.
He highlighted issues such as lifestyle and safety saying investors can be so fragile that they can look elsewhere when they find the way of life of people in one country so different to their own lifestyle urging that Batswana‘s lifestyle needed to be accommodative. “The issue of mindset paradigm shift speaks to changes such as the local citizenry knowing how to relate with investors in a business cultivating manner, some investors I consult would tell me how they can’t put their money in a certain country because the people are lazy thinkers and are not entrepreneurial and business spirited, so we need to make sure this culture of foreign investors attraction is also cultivated amongst the general population,” Kaul explained.
Mr Xavier Furtado, Country Representative of the World Bank Group warned about the wealth and income equality that continues to rise. He observed that as per what happens in other countries especially in Africa when the gap between the rich and the poor widens poses risks of waking up to political instabilities and civil unrests. Furtado asserted that around 30 % of Botswana population had no access to business, wealth cultivation and income generating opportunities, saying that for a population of 2 million people -that was a worrying figure. He said Botswana needed to look with utmost caution the area of education because their research indicated that Botswana was not getting return of investment from billion of pulas pumped into the education sector.
Another renowned pan African investment expert Gift Simwaka, former regional manager for Southern Africa at the African Export Import Bank, now Regional Manager Client Relations with Afrexim Bank in Egypt said that Botswana was a case study for African economic revolution. He noted that despite the demographic variable of being a small population, Botswana was well positioned in the SACU free trade region, housing SADC headquarters and being stable like other speakers asserted, needed to use these advantages to look beyond its borders for market. He underscored that Botswana needed to identify sectors that it had competitive advantage on and run with those for rigorous economic transformation.
Meanwhile, Botswana’s very own shrewd business revolutionary, and one of the most celebrated young executives Bashi Gaetsaloe, Managing Director of Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) highlighted that Botswana needed to use its attributes for investment attraction. He said the fact that Botswana was a small country can be viewed from an angle of saying Botswana was small enough to do everything effectively and easily. “We need to package ourselves as manageable to attract investors and actually walk the talk’’.
The government investment and industrialization arm boss also shared that Botswana can transform Gaborone into Africa‘s first green city. “We need to take deliberate actions in order to actually distinguish us from other attractive investment destination like Kenya, Rwanda and Namibia, why can’t we have free broadband internet for everyone, why can’t we have free visa for every genuine investor at airport entrance?”
The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”
Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.
In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.
Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.
Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.
“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.