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Sub-Saharan Africa’s modern retail stock grows in size, quality

The retail property sector has been a major focus for development activity within Africa over the last decade, causing the shopping mall concept to take root in increasingly wide range of major African cities.


Development has been driven by the growth of the continent’s consumer markets and the expansion of domestic and international retailers, particularly the leading South African supermarket chains such as Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Game. South Africa is by far the largest and most mature retail market in the Sub-Saharan region, with approximately 23 million sq m of shopping centre floor space, compared with only about 3 million sq m in the whole of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. The South African market continued to grow in 2016, most notably through the completion of Atterbury’s 131,000 sq m Mall of Africa, the largest single-phase mall development ever in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Outside of South Africa, the Kenyan capital Nairobi has the greatest volume of modern retail floor space in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it continues to be a development hotspot. The city saw the completion of the first phase of Actis’ Garden City Mall (33,500 sq m) in 2015, followed by the opening of The Hub (30,000 sq m) in the affluent suburb of Karen in 2016. The 67,000 sq m Two
Rivers Mall, which is now the largest in Kenya, opened in February 2017.


Elsewhere, developers including Atterbury, Novare, Resilient and RMB Westport have all delivered modern mall projects over the last two years, adding to the retail stock of countries including Ghana and Nigeria. The positive growth outlook for Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal has caused these countries to also attract increased interest, having previously seen relatively limited modern retail development.


Of particular note, CFAO has opened PlaYce Marcory in Abidjan as the first of a series of Carrefour-anchored malls that are planned for West and Central Africa.Large volumes of modern retail space remain in the pipeline across Sub-Saharan Africa, although the weakening of the oil-driven economies has led to the postponement or scaling down of some projects in these countries.


With most of the region’s major capital cities now having at least one modern mall, developers have increasingly targeted secondary cities in order to gain first-mover advantage in these locations. There are also signs that pragmatic developers are now concentrating on the delivery of well-located small and medium-sized convenience shopping centres rather than regional mega-malls.


As the sector grows and competition between retail schemes intensifies, developers will seek to differentiate their malls by offering access to international brands, leisure facilities and upscale consumer experiences. Selecting the right micro-locations for development will be crucial to the success of new centres, particularly in cities that already have successful existing malls. Modern mall development will play a major role in shaping the future landscapes of Africa’s growing cities.

CAPITAL MARKETS REVIEW

The persuasive long-term investment case for Sub-Saharan Africa has drawn increased numbers of international investors to investigate opportunities within the region over recent years, albeit transactional activity has been restricted by the limited availability of investment- grade stock and the opacity of the markets outside of South Africa.


Interest in the sector remains heightened, despite the weakening of some Sub-Saharan economies over the last two years. Investors’ appetite for Sub-Saharan real estate was highlighted in 2016 by the announcement that the UK-based emerging markets specialist Actis had raised US$500 million for its third African property fund, Actis Africa Real Estate Fund 3.


This is the largest amount that has ever been raised for a private real estate fund focused on Sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa, and it included a commitment from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).Actis’ two previous funds, closed in 2006 and 2012, have been involved with some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most modern commercial property developments, in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania.


In recent years, Actis has exited from many of its first wave of investments, selling its interests in assets including the Accra Mall, Nairobi Business Park and Ikeja City Mall. When Actis launched its first Sub-Saharan Africa fund over a decade ago, it was a pioneer entering a market largely untapped by global property funds.


However, its third fund will enter a significantly more crowded marketplace as a series of property investment vehicles have emerged in recent years targeting Sub-Saharan real estate. Many of these are South African-controlled funds, albeit often registered or listed offshore in Mauritius.


A prominent example is RMB Westport, which was created in 2008 as a joint venture between Rand Merchant Bank and the Westport Property Group. Its current development projects include the Wings Office Complex in Lagos and Muxima Shopping Centre in Luanda. RMB Westport’s second fund, which has a target of raising US$450 million, has attracted commitments from both GIC and the UK investor Grosvenor.


Other real estate investment vehicles to have been launched in the last two years include a pan-African joint venture created by Growthpoint and Investec, which has the target of raising US$500 million. Momentum Global Investment Management and Eris Property Group have also formed a joint venture, the US$250 million Momentum Africa Real Estate Fund, which has allocated capital to development projects in Ghana and Nigeria.


The Anglo-South African group Old Mutual signalled its intention to expand its African footprint by announcing a partnership with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority in the second half of 2016. This venture aims to raise US$500 million for a real estate fund, in addition to a US$200 million agriculture investment vehicle. A further noteworthy event during 2016 was the creation of Mara Delta, a pan-African real estate fund formed from the merger of Delta Africa and Mara Diversified Property Holdings.


During 2016, Mara Delta was one of the most acquisitive buyers of real estate across the region, growing a portfolio which currently includes assets in Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique and Zambia. The activities of South African investors in the rest of Africa are part of a wider trend that has seen them increasingly move into foreign markets in order to hedge against a weak rand and a sluggish domestic economy. This has also led to South African investors directing significant volumes of capital to Central and Eastern Europe, attracted by the relatively high yields on offer in this region.


During 2016, South African investors including Hyprop, Redefine and Tower acquired US$2.1 billion of property in CEE markets. Significant demand for African real estate stems from Middle Eastern investors, who generally have a preference for large-scale development projects rather than direct property investment.

(An extract from the Africa Property Report 2017)

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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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