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Domestic economy increased 1.0 percent

The latest Statistics Botswana Gross Domestic Product (GDP) second quarter report indicates that the domestic economy increased by 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to an increase of 3.9 percent recorded in the same quarter of 2016.

The small increase was attributed to real value added of Water & Electricity, Transport & Communications and Finance & Business Services which increased by 6.0, 5.9 and 5.6 percent respectively. All other industries recorded positive growths of more than 1.2 percent with the exception of Mining and Manufacturing which decreased by 13.8 and 0.2 percent respectively.

The estimated GDP at current prices for the second quarter of 2017 was P43, 005.2 million compared to P43, 645.6 million registered in the first quarter of 2017. The estimated GDP at constant 2006 prices for the second quarter of 2017 was P22, 886.1 million compared to P22, 465.4 million registered in the first quarter of 2017.

Transport and Communications growth of 5.9 percent was attributed to the increase in real value added of Air transport, Road transport and Post & Communications by 9.3, 7.9 and 6.1 percent respectively. The increase of 5.6 percent in the real value added of the Finance and Business Services industry was mainly due to the rise in the value added of Business Services and Real Estate by 8.3 and 6.4 percent respectively.

The decrease in the real mining value added of 13.8 percent was because of the closure of copper/nickel mines during the fourth quarter of 2016. In the quarter under review, copper/nickel production was zero due to the provisional liquidation of the BCL mine in October 2016.

The year on year growth compares the second quarter of 2016 value added which has copper contribution and the current period without copper value added. The copper/nickel statement will stay valid until publishing the third quarter of 2017. On the other hand, diamond value added increased by 12.9 percent during the quarter under review. Diamonds production in carats increased by 12.9 percent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to a decrease of 12.1 percent recorded in the same quarter of 2016.

Soda Ash value added decreased by 25.4 percent because the mine was placed under care and maintenance in May 2017 in order to remain in a state of readiness. Water and Electricity value added at constant 2006 prices for the second quarter of 2017 was P205.9 million compared to P194.2 million registered in the same quarter of 2016, recording an increase of 6.0 percent. In the second quarter of 2017, Electricity recorded a positive value added of P24.0 million compared to a negative value added of P46.7 million registered in the first quarter of 2017.

The improvement in the Electricity real value added is attributed to an increase in local electricity production by 38.9 percent and a decrease of 52.3 percent in electricity imports. Morupule B Power Station was operating at full capacity using the four units during the quarter under review. In the second quarter of 2017, the real value added of water sector increased by 4.6 percent compared to an increase of 29.5 percent recorded in the same quarter of the previous year. Water consumption in kilolitres rose by 4.1 percent during the quarter under review.

Trade, Hotels and Restaurants real value added increased by 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2017 as compared to 20.1 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The slow growth is attributed to the decrease in real value added of wholesale sub sector by 11.0 percent. Wholesaler’s value added decreased because downstream diamond industries contributed less to the industry during the quarter under review. Diamond exports in value terms went down by 39.7 percent.

The decrease of 0.2 percent in the real value added of the Manufacturing industry was mainly due to the decrease in the real value added of all sub industries except other manufacturing which increased by 0.4 percent. Non mining GDP increased by 3.1 percent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to 7.0 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. Trade, Hotels and Restaurants remained the major contributor to GDP by 20.2 percent followed by General Government at 14.9 percent while Mining came third by 14.7 percent. Trade, Hotels and Restaurants contribution increased because of inclusion of diamond aggregation processes under wholesale sub sector.

Total final consumption expenditure recorded an increase of 6.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017, whereas in the same quarter of the previous year it rose by 0.4 percent. Household final consumption increased by 7.6 percent, Government final consumption increased by 3.7 percent and Fixed capital formation decreased by 15.4 percent in the quarter under review. Imports of machinery & equipment and transport & equipment also decreased by 30.9 percent and 26.6 percent respectively.

In the case of foreign trade, real exports of goods and services decreased by 33.6 percent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to an increase of 12.9 percent realized in the same quarter of 2016. Diamond is the major export commodity. Exports of diamonds in Pula decreased by 39.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to an increase of 36.8 percent registered in the same quarter of 2016.

Imports of goods and services recorded a decrease of 25.3 percent during the quarter under review, compared to 7.4 percent decline realized in the same quarter of the previous year. Botswana’s economy ended 2016 strongly with a trade surplus of P13.4 billion, a stark reversal from the P9.7 billion trade deficit recorded in 2015. This was the largest yearly trade surplus in over sixteen years. Botswana’s rough-diamond exports bounced back last year after a plunge in 2015, helping the country return to economic growth. The nation shipped about P40 billion of rough diamonds in 2016, a jump of 54 percent, according to the Bank of Botswana. The country’s total exports, of which 83 percent are diamonds, grew by an estimated 26.4 percent in 2016.

According to the World Bank, Botswana’s economy is expected to keep up the momentum was projected GDP growth rates of 4.1 percent in 2017, driven mainly by an expected improvement in the mining sector as demand from developed economies stabilizes. Continued fiscal stimulus is expected to drive the non-mining activity thus contributing to the positive performance. However, SACU transfers will remain soft mainly due to a weak near-term economic outlook for South African growth.

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Inflation spike building further upwards

27th October 2020
Inflation spike

In the coming months prices will go up and inflation will shoot sharply above the target of 3 percent to 6 percent towards the third quarter of 2021, the Bank of Botswana on the other hand will continue to withhold its knife on the Bank Rate. This is according to a forecast made by Kgori Capital in its recent Market Watch Segment.

Statistics from Statistics Botswana show that the recent 1.8 percent increase in the September inflation, from 1 percent in August, was a reflection of the upward adjustment in public transport fares (Transport (from -6.9 to -3.9 percent) in September 2020, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.64 percentage points.

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Plans to erase Edgars, Jet trademark from Botswana malls underway

27th October 2020
Edgars Jet trademark

Local anti-trust body, Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA), this month received back to back acquisition proposals from South African clothing retailers to wipe out their former rivals, Edcon, from Botswana malls.

Last week BusinessPost was in possession of Merger Notice No 23 of 2020 whereby a South African clothing retailer owner, Retailability Proprietary Limited, through Oclin Proprietary Limited, proposed to acquire parts of the Edgars business conducted by Edcon in Botswana (through Edcon Botswana), as a going concern, consisting of certain assets and identified liabilities.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year announced that Retailability will buy Edgars, after the latter filed for a business rescue plan in April after it failed to pay suppliers. This move will see Retailability add Edgars to its portfolio consisting of brands such as; Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style.

Retailability landed on Botswana shores 18 years ago with its flamboyant urban fashion Style which had 17 stores. Style, having almost the same target market as Edgars as it offers men’s and ladies’ contemporary and formal fashion, gave the 91 year old legendary clothing retailer a run for its money, and has won the battle as its parent company has taken over Edgars.

Retailability brands are synonymous with Botswana shopping centres and there are currently five (5) Beaver Canoe stores, 10 Style stores and seven (7) Legit stores across this country. The Beaver Canoe stores sell clothing apparel for men and boys only. The Legit stores have a fashion store format which focuses on the retailing of clothing, footwear, accessories, colour cosmetics and cellular products.

Retailability operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Many observers suggest that because of the deal with Retailability to swallow Edcon, most Edgars stores in Botswana will change their name and be branded Style. A sad tale for religious consumers of the Edgars trademark who got used to love their favourite brand for years.

According to CCA’s Merger Notice No 23 of 2020, Retailability is controlled by Clifford Raymond Lines (through a company which functions solely as a holding company of his interests in Retailability) and Metier Investment and Advisory Services Proprietary Limited (“Metier”). Metier is a private equity enterprise with investments in a number of industries spanning from healthcare, hospitality, FMCGs and telecommunications.

Retailability directors are mostly South Africans; Clifford Raymond Lines, Mark Richard Friday and Norman Victor Drieselmann. Only Nasreen Essack, who was appointed February this year, is a Motswana. He comes after Brian Thuto Tsima left on the same date. Retailability 100 percent owns Oclin Proprietary Limited, the company it is acquiring Edgars with, by a capacity of 3000 shares.

The target business, Edgars, offer textiles, cosmetics and cellular products. Edcon has a Motswana director, Charles Mzwandile Vikisi, a South African, Shane Van Niekerk and Zimbabwean Jethro Kamutsi.

“The Target Business comprises of two (2) Edgars franchise brands and private label stores across Botswana. These stores target middle to upper income customers and are home to a range of private label brands such as Free2BU, Charter Club and Stone Harbour, and a wide range of market label brands (such as Levi’s and Guess) for clothing, footwear and cosmetics.

In addition, the Target Business operates iconic Edgars Home and Edgars Beauty stores as store-in-store formats rounding out the department store offering in Botswana,” said CCA.
Foshini also lines up to take Jet Botswana from Edcon.

The Foschini Group (TFG) released a statement confirming its latest intentions to acquire Edcon assets or Jet for a cash purchase consideration of R480 million. This was after the business rescue practitioners offered TFG to buy Jet by that amount.

CCA is currently mulling on a proposed merger by TFG to take over Jet operations in Botswana. Merger Notice No 21 of 2020 from TFG came a few days before the Retailability proposal. In this merger TFG, acting through Foschini Botswana, want to take over “parts” of the Jet business conducted by Edcon through Jet Supermarkets Botswana.

TFG will be willing to add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents. TFG will also get Jet’s distribution centre located in Durban and certain stores in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini. Also part of this fat deal is that the company is looking to also acquire JET Club and all existing JET stock of no less than R800 million.

Johannesburg listed TGF owns Foschini Retail Group which owns the local operations called Foschini Botswana, the acquiring enterprise according to CCA merger notice. “TFG is not controlled by any enterprise/s and for completeness, the three largest shareholders of TFG holding shares greater than 5% as at 27th March 2020 are: Government Employees Pension Fund (16.2%) Public Investment Corporation (13.2%); Old Mutual Limited (6.7%); and Investec Asset Management (6.3%). The remaining issued share capital in TFG is widely held,” said the merger notice.

Only Abdool Rahim Khan is a Motswana in the Foschini Botswana directorship, the rest; Ganeswari Shani Naidoo, Anthony Edward Thunström and Gustav Jansen (alternate director) are South Africans.

According to the CCA merger, the Jet Business is Edcon’s discount department store division, selling clothing, footwear, homeware and some cosmetics as well as cellular products and targets lower-to-middle income consumers throughout Botswana. The Jet Business does not directly or indirectly control any enterprises, says the notice. CCA seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication to the following address.

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BOCRA, associates to provide broadband internet in schools

27th October 2020

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA signed a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Ministries of Transport and Communications (MTC), Basic Education (MoBE) as well as Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).

The MoA seeks to continue the collaboration that dates back to 2016 when the three parties first agreed to work together in a project aimed at computerizing and providing broadband Internet to primary schools in remote and underserved areas of Botswana.

The project benefitted 68 primary schools and 9 secondary schools through the construction of Local Area Network (LAN) in each primary school, provision of 5 Mbps dedicated broadband Internet to each Primary School and provision of Wi-Fi enabled tablets, laptops and related peripherals such as printers and copiers.

Further, the project will see the augmentation of computers in 9 Junior Secondary Schools with 30 laptops per identified school and employment of Information Technology (IT) officers at each primary school.

When speaking at the signing ceremony in Gaborone, Chief Executive of BOCRA and Chairperson of Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) Board of Trustees Martin Mokgware said the project’s ultimate goal is to facilitate pupils in schools and host villages to be able to play a meaningful role in the digital economy.

Mokgware indicated that this necessitates upgrading of existing Telecommunications infrastructure to high capacity broadband that will support delivery of education, accessibility to the quality Internet and usage of ICTs.

The Fund began its inaugural programme by sponsoring the provision of WiFi hotspots in public areas around the country as its first project. Following the successful implementation of public WiFi hotspots, the Fund identified Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and Mabutsane areas for mobile network upgrades, schools computerization and internet provision.

Conscious that the project would not be possible without buy-in and support from MoBE, MTC and MLGRD, the Fund facilitated the signing of the first MoU between the three parties in 2016 for implementation of the project.

BOCRA Chief Executive said the signing of this agreement is aimed at benefitting the Kweneng District, adding that they have already assessed the area and have determined that they will be covering 62 underserved villages and 119 schools, 91 of which are primary schools.

“This is a project for which the partner Ministries need to re-commit for its success. Lessons from the previous schools’ computerization and internet connectivity project require that we increase our involvement and resources dedicated to the project for it to be successful. It is my belief as the project coordinator, that we will not do things the way we did them during the first project, for if we do, then we will not have learnt anything,” he said at the signing ceremony.

The purpose of learning is so that there can be continuous improvement to minimize the length of time and amount of resources utilized, he said expressing confidence that their partners will step up to the plate and ensure they play their part in the implementation of the project and that it will progress smoothly having already tread along a similar path.

UASF’s role lies mainly in funding and project management. According to Mokgware, once the project is completed, the work to integrate ICTs into the classroom begins in earnest. Therefore, he said, the project will not succeed without full cooperation and oversight of partners.

“MoBE will put in place the necessary content and ensure that the curriculum is available to all. MLGRD will provide, among others, the enabling environment by ensuring readiness of the school’s infrastructure and necessary security.”

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