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A fragile recovery

Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6 percent in 2017 from the sharp deceleration to 1.3 percent in 2016, and to strengthen somewhat in 2018. The upturn reflects recovering global commodity prices and improvements in domestic conditions.

Most of the rebound will come from Angola and Nigeria—the largest oil exporters. However, investment is expected to recover only very gradually, reflecting still tight foreign exchange liquidity conditions in oil exporters and low investor confidence in South Africa. Fiscal consolidation will slow the pace of recovery in metals exporters.

Growth is expected to remain solid among non-resource-intensive countries. External downside risks to the outlook include stronger-than-expected tightening of global financing conditions, weaker-than-envisioned improvements in commodity prices, and the threat of protectionism. A key domestic risk is the lack of implementation of reforms that are needed to maintain durable macroeconomic stability and sustain growth.

After slowing sharply in 2016, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is recovering, supported by modestly rising commodity prices, strengthening external demand, and the end of drought in several countries. Despite recent declines, oil prices are 10 percent higher than their average levels in 2016.

Metals prices have strengthened more than expected. Meanwhile, above-average rainfalls are boosting agricultural production and electricity generation in countries that were hit earlier by El Niño-related droughts (e.g., South
Africa, Zambia). Security threats subsided in several countries. In Nigeria, militants’ attacks on oil pipelines decreased.

The economic recession in Nigeria is receding. In the first quarter of 2017, GDP fell by 0.5 percent (y/y), compared with a 1.7 percent contraction in the fourth quarter of 2016. The Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturers returned to expansionary territory in April, indicating growth in the sector after contraction in the first quarter. Non-resource-intensive countries, including those in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), have been expanding at a solid pace.

Several factors are preventing a more vigorous recovery. In Angola and Nigeria, foreign exchange controls are distorting the foreign exchange market, thereby constraining activity in the non-oil sector. In South Africa, political uncertainty and low business confidence are weighing on investment. The previously delayed fiscal adjustment to lower oil revenues in the Central


African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) has started, restraining domestic demand. In Mozambique, the government’s default in January and heavy debt burden are deterring investment. In contrast to oil and metals prices, world cocoa prices dropped, reducing exports and fiscal revenues in cocoa producers (e.g., Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana).


In many countries, banks are seeking to limit credit risk by tightening lending standards and reducing credit to the private sector. Lastly, the drought in East Africa, which reduced agricultural production at the end of 2016, continued into 2017, adversely affecting activity in some countries (e.g., Kenya, Uganda), and contributing to famine in others (e.g., Somalia, South Sudan). Current account deficits of oil and metals exporters are narrowing, helped by the pickup in commodity prices.


Oil exports are rebounding in Nigeria on the back of an uptick in oil production from fields previously damaged by militants’ attacks. Mining companies across the region are resuming production and exports. In contrast, current account balances have remained under pressure in a number of non-resource-intensive countries.


In these countries, capital goods imports have been strong, reflecting ambitious public investment programs. Capital inflows in the region are rebounding from their low level in 2016. Nigeria tapped the Eurobond market twice in the first quarter of 2017, followed by Senegal in May. Sovereign spreads have declined across the region from their November 2016 peak, with the notable exception of Ghana where they rose due to concerns about fiscal policy slippages. This trend reflects low financial market volatility, and a broader rebound in investor risk appetite for emerging market and developing economies (EMDE) assets.


Regional inflation is gradually decelerating from its high level in 2016. Although a process of disinflation has started in Angola and Nigeria, inflation in both countries remains elevated, owing to a highly depreciated parallel market exchange rate. Inflation eased in metals exporters, reflecting stabilizing currencies after sharp depreciations, and lower food prices due to improved weather conditions (e.g., South Africa, Zambia).

An exception is Mozambique, where inflation was still above 21 percent (y/y) in April, reflecting continued depreciation. Inflationary pressures increased in non-resource-intensive countries. In East Africa, drought led to a spike in food prices, notably in Kenya. However, in countries where the drought has been less severe, inflation has remained within central banks’ targets. Low inflation in Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, and steadily falling inflation in Ghana allowed central banks to cut interest rates in early 2017.

Fiscal deficits remain elevated across the region. Oil and metals exporters are still running sizable fiscal deficits. Fiscal balances have deteriorated in several non-resource-intensive countries, reflecting a continued expansion in public infrastructure.
Large fiscal deficits and, in some cases, steep exchange rate depreciations, have resulted in rising public debt ratios in the region (Box 2.6.1). A number of countries have embarked on fiscal consolidation to stabilize government debt (e.g., Chad, South Africa). In early April, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to sub-investment status on account of heightened political uncertainty.

Outlook
 
Growth in SSA is forecast to pick up to 2.6 percent in 2017, and average 3.4 percent in 2018-19, slightly above population growth. The recovery is predicated on moderately rising commodity prices and reforms to tackle macroeconomic imbalances. The forecasts are below those in January, reflecting a slower-than-anticipated recovery in several oil and metals exporters.

Per capita output growth—which is projected to increase from -0.1 percent in 2017 to 0.7 percent in 2018-19—will remain insufficient to achieve poverty reduction goals in the region if the constraints to more vigorous growth persist (Bhorat and Tarp 2016).

Growth in South Africa is projected to recover from 0.6 percent in 2017 to 1.5 percent in 2018-19. A rebound in net exports is expected to only partially offset weaker than previously forecast growth of private consumption and investment, as borrowing costs rise following the sovereign rating downgrade to sub-investment level. For Nigeria, growth is expected to rise from 1.2 percent in 2017 to 2.5 percent in 2018-19, helped by a rebound in oil production, as security in the oil-producing region improves, and by an increase in fiscal spending.


In Angola, growth is projected to increase from 1.2 percent in 2017 to 1.5 percent in 2019, reflecting a slight pickup of activity in the industrial sector as energy supplies improve. The subdued recovery in the region’s largest economies reflects the slower-than-expected adjustment to low commodity prices in Angola and Nigeria, and higher-than-anticipated policy uncertainty in South Africa.  In other oil exporters, growth is expected to strengthen in Ghana as increased oil and gas production boosts exports and domestic electricity production.

Growth will be weaker than previously projected in CEMAC, as larger-than-envisioned fiscal adjustment reduces public investment. In several metals exporters, high inflation and tight fiscal policy will be a greater drag on activity than previously expected. Growth in non-resource-intensive countries should remain solid, on the basis of infrastructure investment, resilient services sectors, and the recovery of agricultural production.

Meanwhile the World Bank forecasts that global economic growth will strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 as a pickup in manufacturing and trade, rising market confidence, and stabilizing commodity prices allow growth to resume in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies.  Growth in advanced economies is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2017, a benefit to their trading partners.


Amid favorable global financing conditions and stabilizing commodity prices, growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole will pick up to 4.1 percent this year from 3.5 percent in 2016. Nevertheless, substantial risks cloud the outlook. These include the possibility of greater trade restriction, uncertainty about trade, fiscal and monetary policy, and, over the longer term, persistently weak productivity and investment growth. Global growth is projected to strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017, as expected. Emerging market and developing economies are anticipated to grow 4.1 percent – faster than advanced economies.

© 2017 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank

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Business

New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022
Youth

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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Business

BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022
BHC

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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Business

Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022
Commercial-banks

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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