Despite an improved banking sector profitability in the first quarter of 2017 for the reporting season ending 31 March 2017, with the key driver being growth in Non Interest Income, banks are not yet out of the woods.
With a prolonged sluggish domestic economy, local banks are still witnessing weak loan demand among other challenges. While commercial banks are working out ways to reduce their dependence on defensive measures through aggressive strategies, burning issues like cybercrime, regulatory compliance and unconventional competition will keep their financials strained.
According to Motswedi Securities Q2 Economic Bulletin the sector is transforming and the primary objective of banks as intermediaries between savers and borrowers is no longer the key the driver of profitability, with complimentary services and fees taking a leading role. Under the current interest rate regime margins remain under pressure with banks forced to improve efficiencies and cost management to remain afloat.
Banks are trying every means to contain costs.
“We expect impairments to remain above 2% for the second quarter, as BCL and its employees continue to impact on the sector. Furthermore the SARB recently cut rates by 25 basis points, in the wake of a technical recession, placing the local economy under pressure and giving the Bank of Botswana room for a further cut before the end of the year, thereby squeezing bank margins,” reads the report.
According to the same report, Barclays momentum has slowed following a sterling performance in Q1, up by 13.1%, to close Q2 2017, up by a modest 3.5%, at P5.90 per share. FNBB’s performance was flat for the quarter, dipping by 0.7%, while Stanchart saw a massive 14.1% price slip, the biggest move of the quarter.
“We do not believe that the bank is out of the waters just yet, although activity on the counter is slowly improving, with volumes showing participation by institutional investors and not only desperate to sell retail investors. It might be too soon to say the company has turned a corner, but the last financials (Dec 2016), showed an improvement on profits before tax of over 50%, enough to raise interest on the counter,” concludes Motswedi Securities analysts.
Banks' strategies to focus more on non-interest revenue sources for strengthening their top line will not be smooth sailing. Prospects for generating non-interest revenue from sources like charges on deposits, prepaid cards, new fees and higher minimum balance requirement on deposit accounts may continue to be curbed by regulatory restrictions.
The Motswedi Securities Q1 economic bulletin highlights that foreign currency risk remains a sore point for the sector as all three companies are significantly exposed to forex fluctuations. Afinitas, pleasantly shocked the market, moving 10 thebe higher to close the quarter as the best performer in the sector, reads the commentary in the report.
“The stock appreciated by 10.6% following some relatively low volumes for the quarter. In Sept. 2016, the company acquired 50% Africa Event Limited, which runs and owns the Africa Financial Services and Investment Conference, and is the main driver of revenue. However this revenue stream has not been able to keep pace with the growing company’s operating costs. Earnings pershare showed minor improvement, standing at – 0.152 cents (USD) for the period ended Dec 2016.”
The Q2 report indicates that BIHL carried last year’s momentum, as investors continue to buy up the insurance giant’s stock, even with profits on the decline. Demand has seen the stock appreciate by a further 4% for the quarter to extend gains to 7% for the year. It further states that Letshego woes, continued, albeit at a slower pace.
“The company saw a decline in profits for the year, as costs of capital remain a challenge for the evolving micro-lender that has since amassed 6 deposit taking licences in its pursuit to reduce the cost of funds. The Debt to Equity ratio was last at 85% short of the company’s target of 100%, which may prove to be a double sided sword, paving way for growth, at a high cost to investors and increased risk.” Foreign currency risk is another key area of concern, however, with Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria rebounding the year may end in smiles for investors.
Motswedi Securities says the immediate outlook for the stock however remains damp, selling pressure and expected flat results are most likely see the price take a further knock, before the company can exercise its share buyback programme, after the release of their results in September. “Whether this will actually take happen, is a subject of speculation, but the idea of which may keep the price afloat long enough to for some good news.”
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.