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AGOA national response strategy for Botswana launched

Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) last week launched the AGOA National Response Strategy for Botswana at the Gaborone International Convention Centre.

Through AGOA, Botswana and other African countries get non-reciprocal concessions of more than 6,500 product lines duty free into the U.S. market. Speaking at the launch, MITI minister, Vincent Seretse explained that following AGOA’s re-authorization in 2015, Botswana had developed a National AGOA Response Strategy with assistance from the USAID Southern African Trade and Investment Hub. The strategy provides a prioritized roadmap for developing Botswana’s export competitiveness under AGOA.

Minister Seretse told attendants that the broad objectives of the Botswana AGOA Strategy were to advise the Government of Botswana on how to systematically take advantage of AGOA. He said the strategy will help government identify policy responses in targeted sectors to capacitate current and potential exporters in Botswana to increase exports under AGOA and also Develop an ongoing consultative mechanism between the public and private players as well as attract investment in the identified sectors that can benefit from international trade.
”These objectives are in line with the AGOA broader objectives of deepening U.S trade and investment ties with the region,” he said.

The Strategy has identified potential sectors, which are to export to the US market under the Act. These include the Horticulture and Agro-processing; Handicrafts (Arts and crafts); Jewellery and semi-precious stones; Leather and leather products; Natural (indigenous) products; Meat and meat products and the Textiles/ Apparel sector. It also encompasses an elaborate implementation matrix detailing specific sector based actions and activities to be undertaken for effective implementation of the Strategy.

According to Seretse a technical analysis of the Competitiveness and Market Opportunities for Botswana Beef Exports into the USA is currently being undertaken through the assistance of the Southern African Trade and Investment Hub. “I am reliably informed that this work will continue with other sectors identified in the Strategy,” he shared

The Minister further highlighted that the Strategy resonates with the aspirations of Vision 2036 and National Development Plan (NDP) 11, being an export led and diversified economy.  “By taking advantage of the AGOA preferential treatment, Botswana will be able to increase the export base of Botswana goods to the U.S. market,” he said.He further noted that the government continues to refine policies aimed at improving the business environment, revealing that the Doing Business Reform Framework had already been adopted by government. The framework is aimed at easing the business environment. He said the one-stop shop centre was operational and will be officially launched in October.

Still at the AGOA strategy launch it was noted that the recent re-opening of the Botswana based – USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub on the 23rd August 2017, was testimony to the commitment that the U.S. Government has to the development of the economy of Botswana and the SADC Region at large. MITI in collaboration with the Hub is looking into exploring further support in terms of creating business-to-business linkages between local industries and the U.S. market, with particular emphasis on the priority sectors identified in the Response Strategy.

When commenting on the strategy, vice president of the Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) Mr. Pako Tsimanyana said the development of the Strategy was drawn from the strengths and lessons from the previous African Growth Opportunity Acts. He noted that the global trade landscape and the strategic comparative advantage informed the identification of sectors that are export-ready for the American market.

Tsimanyana highlighted that investment was a powerful tool that can be used to create meaningful opportunities for growth at the macro and micro levels. “Botswana remains an investment destination of choice because it offers investors several comparative advantages such as a well-established financial sector, political and macro-economic stability and respect for private property rights.”  

“AGOA opens up yet another catalyst to investment into Botswana. But, nationally we must do our homework to attract and maintain investment,” he observed, emphasizing that time was of the essence. He advised that the year 2025 may seem far away but was near for the next generation. “I urge that we move with agility in implementing the AGOA National Response Strategy, for the betterment of our people and country.”

The AGOA program is an Agreement between African countries and the United States on matters of trade, to facilitate penetration of African companies into the United States market. The program targets manufacturing companies in strategic sectors like agriculture and textiles. The United States hopes to boost African developing economies with this platform. The Act was enacted into the United States Trade Act, on 18 May 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress. AGOA has since been renewed to 2025.

The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. The intention was to set requirements for local textile fabric sourcing, where it was considered that sufficient quantities were available in AGOA-eligible countries; third country fabric (the provisions related only to denim initially) would thus first have to be sourced locally or regionally before third country imports could be utilized for onward import of denim garments.

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New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022

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.”

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BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022

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.”

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Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022

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.

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