Botswana inflation rate lowest in SACU
Botswana’s inflation rate has been recorded as the lowest amongst other Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states. SACU is a customs union among five countries being Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
According to Statistics Botswana’s ‘Prices Stats’ brief released this week, Botswana’s inflation rate was the lowest comparatively. The Brief compared Botswana’s Consumer Price Statistics with that of her trading partners in SACU.
The succinct Statistics latest report made a comparison of Botswana and SACU Headline Inflation and observed that comparatively, “Botswana’s annual average inflation rate of 2.8 percent in 2016 was the lowest among the SACU member states”.
It further points out that the highest annual average inflation rate was recorded in Swaziland with a rate of 7.8 percent whereas South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia recorded annual average rates of 6.3, 6.6 and 6.7 percent respectively. “This is feasible, considering the fact that Botswana’s rate was cushioned by stable fuel pump prices of petrol and diesel which was reduced in February 2016 and was kept at that price for the whole year,” states the Statistics report.
In addition, it posits that there was a sustained strength of the Botswana Pula relative to its counterparts for most of the year under review. Notwithstanding that, the annual average inflation rate of 2.8 percent recorded in 2016 was on the lower side of the inflation target range of 3 – 6 percent set out by the Bank of Botswana.
In terms of the Consumer Price Index, the Statistics Brief states that, on average, the All Items Index which is conventionally referred to as Cost of Living Index or Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 99.4 in 2016, which is an increase of 2.8 percent on the 2015 average index of 96.6. This means that the cost of a fixed basket of goods which cost 96.6 units in 2015 cost 99.4 units in 2016.
“The average inflation rate was 2.8 percent in 2016 compared to 3.1 percent realized in 2015. This means that consumers on average paid 2.8 percent less for the goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket in 2016 compared to 2015 (3.1 percent). The 2.8 percent inflation rate recorded in 2016 was the lowest since 1970,” it further points out.
Moreover, the Briefs explain that applying significant downward pressure on the inflation between 2015 and 2016 were the declining prices of major components in the CPI basket especially Transport group index (-2.7 percent) which accounted for 20.65 percent of CPI basket weights.
In terms of transport, the report stresses that all group indices experienced positive increase between 2015 and 2016 except Transport which recorded a decline of 2.7 percent. It states: “the deceleration was mainly attributable to a decline in the constituent section index of Operation of Personal Transport (1.3 percent). The decrease in the Operation of Personal Transport section index was due to the drop in retail pump prices of petrol by P0.15 and diesel by P0.45 per liter, which effected on the 1st February 2016, following a drop in global oil prices which had eased to an average of 50 US Dollar in 2016.”
Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels
The Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels group index stood at 98.8 percent on average in 2016, an increase of 6.3 percent from the 2015 average of 93.0. The Statistics briefs mentions that this “was due to overall increase in the constituent section indices except for water and electricity which remained constant for the rest of 2016”.
Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages
According to the SB, the Food group Index registered an increase of 2.7 percent, from an average of 96.8 in 2015 to 99.4 in 2016. “Given the fact that the weight of Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages is 16.51 in the CPI basket and the frequency at which a consumer purchases food items, high food prices can have a large impact on consumer confidence particularly, those individuals in the bottom income level, for whom food, as a share of total expenditures, is much larger.”
Clothing and Footwear
With regard to the Clothing and Footwear Group Index, it registered an increase of 6.5 percent, from an average of 93.1 in 2015 to 99.1 in 2016. The rise was attributed to a general increase in the section indices.
Other Group Indices
Other section groups recorded on average less than 5 percent inflation rate in 2016. It is said that Restaurants & Hotels Group Index stood at 4.0 percent whereas Alcoholic Beverages, Tobacco & Narcotics Group Index recorded 2.5 percent in 2016. The Education group index increased by 3.7 percent.
“Health and Furnishing, Household Equipment & Routine Maintenance group indices both recorded 3.0 percent. The Recreation & Culture increased by 3.0 percent while Communications group index rose by 0.2 percent.”
Cost of living Index and Inflation Rates by Strata
The report highlights that Consumer Price Indices (CPI) is also compiled by strata, meaning, CPI is recorded according to Cities/towns, Urban villages and Rural villages. In 2016 it is understood that products were generally costly in rural villages compared to cities/towns. In rural villages consumers needed 100.8 units in December 2016 to buy the same basket which would cost 100.4 units in Cities/towns. This implies that it was expensive to buy goods in rural areas compared to cities/towns as reflected by average inflation rate in 2016, the report emphasised.
Meanwhile, the Stats Brief presents a brief summary of Botswana Consumer Price Indices (CPI) and Inflation rates for 2016. According to Statistician General Anna Majelantle, Price Statistics information is useful for formulation of socio-economic and monetary policies, quantifying the purchasing power of the Pula in relation to goods and services over time in Botswana.
In order to produce statistics that reflect the current situation in the economy, she says Statistics Botswana has rebased the Consumer Price Index from September 2006 to September 2016. She also pointed out that the CPI rebasing covers a number of issues which includes the revised basket and weights, area coverage as well as the methodology.
“Area coverage was largely extended to areas in the western side of the country i.e. Shakawe, Gumare, Charleshill and Hukuntsi. Other areas were removed due to proximity to other areas where prices were already collected,” she explained.
CPI is an index which measures price changes in goods and services with reference to a base period. The current Botswana CPI series has a base period of September 2016.
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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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Moody’s Reaffirms African Trade Insurance’s A3 Rating & Revises Outlook to Positive
Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has affirmed the A3 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) for the fifth consecutive year and changed the outlook from stable to positive.
Moody’s noted that the change in outlook to positive reflects the strong growth in ATI’s membership base – that has resulted in improved portfolio diversification, strengthened capital adequacy, and the good profitability despite the challenging operating environment. In addition, ATI benefits from its preferred creditor status (PCS) amongst sovereign member states which protects it from the risk of default by member sovereigns through securing recoveries against claims paid on guarantees.
The strong membership and equity growth are some of the key considerations for the consistent reinstatement of ATI’s A/Stable rating by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating, over the years. Also supporting the rating affirmation are; consistent improvement in financial performance, commitment of its shareholders who continue to uphold the preferred creditor status, its high quality and conservative investment portfolio as well as strong relationships with a number of global reinsurers that provide significant risk-bearing capacity.
With the change in outlook to “positive”, ATI is now better placed to provide enhanced support to its member countries, attract additional shareholding and grow its portfolio. The positive outlook is an indication that if ATI continues to demonstrate its strong underwriting performance and ability to recover claims under the preferred creditor arrangements, among other factors, an upward pressure towards an upgrade may be generated. The Moody’s press release can be accessed from here
Commenting on the rating, Africa Trade Insurance Chief Executive Officer Manuel Moses said: “This positive revision is in line with our 2023 – 2027 strategic objectives in which we set to improve our rating outlook to positive in the first year, and achieve an upgrade of at least “AA”/Stable rating by both Moody’s and S&P within this Strategic Plan period. We aim to achieve this by doubling our exposures and increasing our capital to more than USD1 billion.”
ATI’s mandate is to provide trade-credit and political risk insurance, as well as other risk mitigation products to its member countries and related public and private sector actors. These insurance products not only directly encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment as well as local private sector investment in our member countries, but also contribute to intra- and extra-African trade.
About The African Trade Insurance Agency
ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. Since inception, ATI has supported US$78 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s, which has now been revised to A3/Positive.