The Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) has taken a decision to push women and youth into utilizing the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) program, assistant Minister at the ministry Biggie Butale has revealed.
The initiative presents trade opportunities into the elite market of United States of America under a number of sectors from textile and manufacturing. Butale says his ministry recognizes women as critical role players in the transformation of Botswana’s economy from import dependent to manufactured goods export led. He says women make up a vital population of manufactures workforce especially in the textile field.
Speaking during Women in Leadership Breakfast forum in Phakalane last week Saturday Butale noted that the AGOA initiative was meant to offer incentives to African countries to continue their efforts to grow their economies and build free markets. Currently Botswana‘s utilization of AGOA program is very minimal to less, Butale revealed recently in parliament. He told attendants at the breakfast seminar that the AGOA National Response Strategy has been finalized and endorsed by the ministry in consultations with the AGOA National Reference Group, which comprises of stakeholders from Government and the private sector. “The Strategy has identified potential sectors, for export to the United States (US) market under the Act. It also includes an elaborate implementation matrix detailing specific sector based actions and activities to be undertaken for effective implementation of the Strategy,” he said.
The Minister also added that all the activities which are to be undertaken by the different stakeholders have been costed. “It requires detailed technical assessment of each identified export potential sector, in terms of establishing production capacity and competitiveness of the Botswana industry as well as the demand and requirements of the US market,” he explained urging women that once the program beneficiation is ready to roll their world class manufactured goods should be ready as well for American consumption.
According to Butale his Ministry intends to have created over 40 000 new jobs in the next coming 7 years and the AGOA initiative presents a lucrative opportunity to realize that target as it opens up the manufacturing industry which when well nurtured and flourishing can create tens of thousands of sustainable jobs. Butale urged women and manufactures to produce goods and commodities of higher standards as American markets were very particular about the kind, type and standards of products they would pay for. “Your goods and products would enter the United States of America market duty free and quota free,” he said.
Though Botswana hasn’t been utilizing the AGOA program fully trade between Botswana and USA out of the program was going on an upward trend. The Sub Saharan Africa trade data between Botswana and USA indicates that exports from USA to Botswana in 2015 made up US$ 39.04 million which in 2016 increased to US$ 42.31 million. Reports indicate that in 2015 America imported products from Botswana amounting to US$ 211.91 million which in 2016 increased to US$ 434.16 million.
THE AGOA PROGRAM EXPLAINED
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program is an Agreement between the 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 textile. The United States hopes to boost African developing economies with this platform.
The act was enacted into 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 exports of denim garments.
Botswana Investment Trade Center (BITC) as MITI’s corporate and expert image will lead Botswana’s employment and economic transformation agenda in the area of business development facilitation, trade and export promotion. Assistant Minister Butale urged women to seek for information at BITC which he said was equipped with all the necessary information women can tap into and ready themselves to penetrate the US market.
The BITC is an organization established by an act of Parliament, to become an integrated Investment and Trade Promotion Authority (ITPA) with an encompassing mandate of investment promotion and attraction, export promotion, and development, including management of the national brand. Through its critical role within Botswana’s economy, BITC further encourages domestic investment and expansion, promotes locally manufactured goods to regional and international markets, contributes towards improvement of the investment climate through policy advocacy, increases citizen participation in the economy and creates sustainable job opportunities.
Currently BITC continues to push its agenda of economic diversification, position Botswana as a globally competitive country as well as promote Botswana as the premier investment destination. In its continued efforts to attract investments into Botswana, this week the organization hosted renowned internal and regional speakers, representatives from government and some of the key stakeholders in the Botswana automotive sector for the Thought Leadership Forum.
The intended purpose of this forum was to present to stakeholders a progress update on the implementation of the Botswana automotive value proposition, feedback from OEM’s in South Africa on how to structure the industry, to discuss the strategies of increasing the sector competitiveness as well as to develop strategies of attracting both OEM’s and auto component manufacturers to Botswana. Last week BITC in collaboration with the Czech Republic Embassy hosted a Business Forum focusing on the defence and security sector to curb any uncertainties and threats, investors between the countries may have concerning issues of security and safety.
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.