The Botswana Gambling Authority (The Authority) has begun the process of selecting an operator for the Botswana National Lottery. The non-refundable one Million Pula applications are now open and the lucky applicant will use the same license for the period of ten years with annual licence fee of the same amount.
Gambling Authority Chief Executive Officer, Thulisizwe Johnson, announced at a media briefing earlier this week that each applicant will be charged the non- refundable fee. He further stated that even though an annual P1 Million licence fee will be charged for the next ten years, the regular tax will apply as well as the gambling levy. The Gambling Authority explained the National Lottery Request For Application (RFA) process, and further offered details on how the lottery can support economic diversification.
The Gambling Authority, a statutory body mandated with licensing and regulating the gambling industry in Botswana, recently started a search for the nation’s first Lottery operator. This comes three months after the Gambling Authority Board approved the issuing of licenses for Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting and Bingo. The process towards selecting an operator for the Botswana National Lottery started earlier this month following the publication of a guiding document for the bidders.
The draft document has been made available up to mid-month to allow the public an opportunity to comment directly to the Gambling Authority before the final RFA is published. The RFA is the guide document which shall be used to provide information on the process and the information required from applicants to be assessed for the award to the successful operator.
The draft document sets out details of the National Lottery opportunity together with the process and requirements connected with submitting the application. The applicants will be required to provide a complete solution for the lottery, including: setting up and running the lottery; designing, building, financing and operating the requisite infrastructure and systems; designing, distributing and marketing lottery games and ensuring a smooth transition from award of licence to operations.
At the press briefing, Johnson, Gambling Authority’s CEO, said the search for the operator for the national lottery has begun and the licence will be for a period of ten years. He also said the main criteria to awarding the licence hinge on the investment required for operating the lottery and the knowledge and the systems. Mr. Johnson says the lottery will provide some form of entertainment for people while also adding to government revenues.
“Through the National Lottery Distribution Fund, money will be disbursed for good causes, mainly for sports, charities, the arts, and other good causes. Even winning the jackpot can change a person’s life although statistically it’s a rare occurrence,” the CEO said.
It was revealed that the assessment process for choosing the operator will involve due diligence, in-camera interviews, scheduled public hearings, site visits and presentations. The preferred operator will then be announced in September. The Authority says once the licence has been issued and the lottery is up and running, it is expected that it will result in increased revenues for the government and also support economic diversification. Furthermore, there is expectation of job creation and support for other businesses that will be outsourced.
Mr. Johnson emphasised that in preparation for Botswana’s first national lottery, they intend to make the process as transparent as possible, citing the anti-corruption policy and whistle blowing as some measures put in place to mitigate against corrupt practices. Moreover, auditors will be appointed to oversee the process and provide assurance of the process. The Gambling Authority CEO said that they are looking for experienced lottery operators with prior experience in penetrating and managing a new market. This move is done to ensure responsible gambling at all time, which includes crackdown on illegal gambling and protection of the weak and vulnerable that might fall prey to gambling addiction.
The chosen lottery operator is expected to impart skills to citizens through training and development, setting the stage for possible succession by a local operator in later years. Apart from acquiring new industry skills, newly started businesses owned by young people will be given priority during local procurement tenders. The Authority says a well run lottery system can help the country reduce its dependence on diamonds revenue and charter a new path to economic diversification.
While it will be Botswana’s first national lottery, the practice has been growing with popularity in Africa. According to World Game, a site that provides lottery fans with a global overview of how that game has taken root worldwide, Lottery games aren’t quite as numerous in Africa as they are elsewhere, but there are certainly enough of them to give players the chance to win huge sums of money for the cost of a single ticket. Part of the reason why the number of games is lower in Africa than it is in Europe or Asia relates to geography and population. Simply put, there are vast regions in Africa that are populated by a relatively small number of people, and it is therefore not as necessary for every region to have its own range of lottery games.
In Africa there are several countries with a national lottery; Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and South Sudan. South Africa has two of the most popular – the Lotto and the Powerball. Lotteries in Africa are most often viewed as games that are to be played primarily for entertainment purposes, with the excitement of having a chance of winning a jackpot being its own reward.
This seems to be the predominant view to lottery games the world over, although of course some players take their participation much more seriously than others. It is widely predicted that lottery games in Africa will continue to grow in popularity, not only among African players themselves but also with lottery players around the world now that it is possible for them to buy African lottery tickets online.
Despite its growing popularity, there is little consensus amongst experts on the true economic benefits of the game on a large scale. Many experts, particularly economists, argue that the economy would get more boost if consumers bought goods and services instead of lottery tickets. They further argue that spending money on businesses helps spur much more economic activity than gambling on the lottery.
Lotteries run for or by governments are used to support public programs such as infrastructure development, public safety, public health and education. The principal argument used to support lotteries has focused on their value as a source of "painless" revenue, contributed by players voluntarily spending their money.
Lottery tickets have become a significant source of funds for governments, and the winners obviously benefit greatly. But lotteries for the most part have a regressive impact. Studies have found that the burden falls disproportionately on people with lower incomes, who typically spend a greater portion of their income on lotteries than those with higher incomes. It is a burden because the odds are worse than other forms of gambling.
The usual presumption is that people know what’s good for them, and that they’re better off if you allow them to spend their money on whatever they personally value the most. For many people, gambling may be just another form of entertainment. But for others it is a very destructive compulsion.
THE RFA EXPLAINED
The draft RFA has already been published in the Authority’s website for public comments. The RFA is the guide document which shall be used to provide information on the process and the information required from applicants to be assessed for the award. The purpose of the publication is to give the public an opportunity to comment directly to the Authority before the final RFA is published. In that regard, the Authority has invited the public to provide comments on the DRAFT National Lottery RFA document which has been made available for download on their website. March 28, 2017, will mark the opening period for enquiries.
Once the one million pula application fee has been paid, the applicant will receive a detailed RFA. Bidders will be invited for a conference to take place on the 18th April and the final date for receiving applications is June 30th 2017. Completion of proposal evaluation, site visits and presentations to the Authority will be on 25th August and announcement of the award is scheduled to take place on November 17th, 2017. Johnson said there will be an open tender for a credible and reputable auditor who shall be the overseer of the project. As many people view this as an exclusive opportunity for the rich, the Authority CEO; Johnson sees it differently, “Contrary to popular belief, it is very cheap!”
According to Johnson, the investment required for operating the lottery and the knowledge and system are important criteria for award. He advised interested parties to form business consortiums and or seek technical partners or look for experienced operators to bid with. “We want the lottery to be run by Batswana and we will train them,” said Johnson.
He added that lotteries are done for good causes because they provide government with tax revenue and energies people as they seek to guess the numbers that will come out of the draw. Through the national lottery distribution fund, money for good causes, mainly sports, charities and the arts are disbursed. “Lotteries can change one’s life. Winning the jackpot can change one’s life even though statistically this is a rare occasion,” Johnson pointed out.
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.