Investment growth in commodity-exporting EMDEs has also slowed substantially, falling from 7.1 percent in 2010 to 1.6 percent in 2015. In about two-thirds of commodity-exporting EMDEs, investment growth was below its long-term average in 2015. Weakness in investment has been broad-based and includes both public and private sources.
Subdued growth prospects and deteriorating terms of trade, compounded by rising political instability, contributed to the investment slowdown. The fall in commodity prices, for instance, accounts for 1.5 percentage point of the total decline in investment growth in commodity exporters between 2011 and 2015. A 10 percent increase in VIX volatility index is associated with a 0.5 percent decline in investment growth within a year in these countries.
Weakening investment occurs at a time when many of these economies have major investment needs, especially in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, and urbanization (World Bank 2017). Despite stabilization in commodity prices over the course of 2016, a double-digit cumulative decline from early-2011 peaks created a major terms-of-trade shock for commodity-exporting EMDEs. A number of them are still struggling to adjust to the prospects of continued low commodity prices. GDP in commodity-exporting EMDEs is estimated to have grown by 0.3 percent in 2016, well below the 5.6 percent pace of commodity-importing EMDEs.
Against this background, this Special Focus section addresses the following questions: (1) How has investment growth in commodity-exporting EMDEs evolved? (2) What are the sources of the investment slowdown in commodity-exporting EMDEs? (3) Which policies can help reignite investment growth? How has investment in commodity exporting EMDEs evolved?
During 2003-08, investment growth in commodity exporting EMDEs reached historic highs, averaging 11.7 percent per year, more than twice the long-term average growth rate of 4.6 percent. The investment boom in commodity exporters reflected soaring commodity prices, which encouraged investment in resource exploration and development and, in anticipation of higher future incomes, non-resource projects (World Bank 2016).
However, investment growth in commodity exporters slowed steadily from 7.1 percent in 2010 to 1.6 percent in 2015. The deceleration was even more pronounced among energy exporters, where investment eased from 8.9 percent in 2010 to 1.8 percent in Investment growth in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) has declined sharply since 2010, and was below its long-term average in about two-thirds of these economies in 2015.
This slowdown reflects weak growth prospects, elevated uncertainty, deteriorated terms of trade, and increased private debt burdens, among other factors. Policymakers face weakened fiscal positions and generally above-target inflation levels and therefore have limited macroeconomic policy space to reignite investment growth.
Conditions should improve, however, in light of the expected recovery in commodity prices. In addition, possible fiscal stimulus in key major economies and potential positive spillover effects to other economies represent an upside risk to the global outlook (World Bank 2017). What are the sources of investment growth slowdown in commodity- exporting EMDEs? Headwinds to investment include weak growth prospects, severe adverse terms-of-trade shocks, rapid accumulation of private debt, and recently, heightened policy uncertainty in major economies.
Weak GDP growth prospects
Output growth in commodity-exporting EMDEs has slowed since the financial crisis, dropping from 8.9 percent in 2011 to 0.4 percent in 2015, levels well below the pre-crisis average (2003-08) of 11.5 percent (World Bank 2017). Decelerating output growth prospects accounted for about 1.3 percentage points of the slowdown in investment growth in commodity exporters since 2011.
Growth prospects in these economies have been dampened by a deteriorating outlook for major economies that are important trading partners, as well as sluggish productivity growth and demographic factors. In particular, growth in China has slowed in the face of weak external demand and policy measures aimed at shifting economic activity from manufacturing to services. This has reduced global commodity demand and generated adverse spillovers to commodity-exporting EMDEs (World Bank 2016).
In commodity-exporting EMDEs, private investment during 2010-15 accounted for roughly 78 percent of total investment. Some of these countries unwound fiscal stimulus only slowly in 2008-09 as public investment growth remained positive despite a slowdown during 2010-13. Since 2013, however, public investment growth in commodity exporters has dropped sharply and shrank in 2015.
In contrast, private investment growth has slowed more gradually from its post-crisis peak in 2010, a tentative stabilization in 2015 notwithstanding. Post-crisis investment weakness in commodity-exporting EMDEs occurs against a global macroeconomic backdrop that presents such obstacles as stagnant trade and heightened policy uncertainty.
Worsening terms of trade
As a result of the sharp commodity price slide from early-2011 peaks, the terms of trade—the ratio of export prices to those of imported goods and services—of commodity exporters deteriorated by 4 percent since 2011, on average. Oil exporters experienced a 21 percent plunge (Figure F6). These terms-of-trade shocks accounted for 1.5 percentage points of the investment growth slowdown in commodity exporters between 2011 and 2015, and 3.4 percentage points in energy exporters (World Bank 2017).
Rapid credit growth and debt overhang
On average, private credit in commodity exporters has increased by nearly 20 percentage points of GDP from 2000 to 2015. In about half of these economies credit to the non-financial private sector (as a ratio of GDP) grew more than 4 percentage points from 2015Q2 to 2016Q2.
This is well above the long-term average yearly increase of 1 percentage point (World Bank 2016). Credit booms since 2010 have been unusually “investment-less” in commodity-exporting EMDEs.1 Historically, when such investment-less credit booms unwind, output contracts more than when booms were accompanied by an investment surge (World Bank 2017).
Uncertainty has increased in many commodity-exporting EMDEs since the 2008-09 global financial crisis. This is a by-product of geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, security challenges and conflicts in the Middle East, and acute domestic political tensions in several large commodity-exporting EMDEs. Deteriorated political stability in some commodity-exporting EMDEs may have accounted for 0.7 percentage point of the total slowdown in investment growth in 2011-2015 (World Bank 2017).
In addition, policy uncertainty in major advanced economies and in some major EMDEs has further weighed on investment growth in commodity-exporting EMDEs. For example, a 10 percent increase in the VIX volatility index can reduce investment growth in commodity exporting EMDEs by 0.5 percentage point within a year.
Which policies can help reignite investment growth?
Both external and domestic factors—low commodity prices, policy and political uncertainty, and weak growth prospects—are weighing on investment in commodity-exporting EMDEs. In the near-term, some of these headwinds are expected to diminish, but only gradually. Investment growth is likely to remain subdued. However, many commodity-exporting EMDEs have large unmet investment needs.
A number require investment in health, education, and infrastructure, and are poorly equipped to keep pace with rapid urbanization and changing demands on the work force. In addition, investment in the nonresource sector is needed to smooth a transition from natural resource-driven growth to more sustainable sources. Finally, a boost to investment, particularly private investment, would help revive slowing productivity growth.
Robust policy action, even in countries with limited room to mobilize domestic resources, is needed to accelerate investment growth prospects. Although the specific policy needs depend on country circumstances, a full range of policies are needed to improve investment growth prospects.
Counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary stimulus may not be effective given low commodity prices, diminished government revenues, and above-target inflation rates. On the other hand, structural policies could support investment by addressing the factors holding back private investment. These include measures to improve productivity and business climate, as well measures to reduce investor uncertainty.
Low commodity prices have weakened fiscal positions in commodity exporting EMDEs. Widening fiscal deficits and rapidly rising government debt levels leave only limited space for fiscal stimulus, despite the current low-interest rate environment. In about half of commodity-exporting EMDEs with sovereign wealth funds, assets cover less than one year of government expenditures. Absent fiscal space, shifting expenditures toward growth-enhancing investment or improving revenue collection, particularly in commodity exporters with low revenue-to-GDP ratios, can boost spending on public investment.
Alternatively, authorities can gear policy efforts to developing private funding sources for investment. Many countries still lack adequate frameworks for effective public-private partnerships, which can improve the effectiveness of public investment (Engel, Fischer, and Galetovic 2008). Like fiscal stimulus, monetary policy can boost growth and investment in a cyclical slowdown.
However, with inflation already above target (about 3 percent on average), most commodity-exporting EMDEs have limited monetary policy space . Several commodity-exporting EMDEs have elevated external debt. Insofar as a large share of this debt is denominated in foreign currency, it can restrict policy makers’ ability to allow currency depreciation in response to terms-of-trade shocks.
Structural reforms are particularly important for supporting investment in commodity-exporting EMDEs with limited room to deploy fiscal and monetary policies to generate stronger growth. Improving the business climate can both stimulate investment (domestic and foreign) and amplify the crowding-in effects of public investment.
It can also offer indirect benefits through higher growth, less informality, and more dynamic job creation (Didier et al. 2015). For instance, lower startup costs are associated with higher profitability of incumbent firms, greater investment in information and communications technology, and more beneficial effects of FDI for domestic investment.
Reforms to reduce trade barriers can encourage FDI and aggregate investment. Governance and financial sector reforms can improve the allocation of resources, including capital, across firms and sectors. Labor and product market reforms that increase firm profitability can encourage investment. Stronger property rights can encourage corporate and real estate investment.
Improved access to power supplies can increase firm investment and productivity. An important additional policy ingredient to strengthen prospects in commodity-exporting EMDEs is a robust fiscal framework for managing commodity price cycles that could turn commodity wealth into a steady flow of income and support long-term macroeconomic sustainability.
In addition, promoting innovation and growth in non-extractive sectors, investing in research and development, and facilitating links between various industries can be effective policy options to boost investment growth. Three factors are critical for maximizing the benefits from structural policies: (i) strengthening fundamentals (stable growth and inflation, an open trade policy, transparency and good governance, and financial stability); (ii) enhancing infrastructure (roads, communication, and access to electricity and water); and (iii) human capital (World Bank 2015). Progress in some structural areas has slowed in commodity-exporting EMDEs in recent years.
During the six years preceding 2011, policymakers cut the cost of doing business considerably. Since then, however, while improvements have continued in some EMDEs, they have proceeded at a slower pace.3 However, large reform spurts in commodity exporting EMDEs have historically been associated with a higher investment growth of 5.7 percent.
In line with the subdued economic activity, investment growth in commodity-exporting EMDEs has slowed sharply since 2010. Deteriorating terms of trade, rising private sector debt burdens, and growing uncertainty have contributed to this slowdown. Policies to remedy investment weakness in commodity exporting EMDEs could include both cyclical and structural actions.
However, commodity-exporting EMDEs have limited room to implement fiscal or monetary stimulus given eroded government revenues due to historically low commodity prices and above target inflation rates. Structural reforms to enhance business environments, encourage economic diversification, and improve governance are therefore necessary to spur stronger investment public and private investment, attract foreign direct investment, and improve longer-term growth prospects.
Adopted from a World Bank Report for 2017 Q1 – Investment weakness in commodity exporting countries – Commodity Markets Outlook
Parliament last week adopted the new National Energy Policy, a blueprint crafted to catapult Botswana to an industrial hub of alternative and renewable energy.
Presented by Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Maxwell Moagi, the policy was hailed by lawmakers from both the ruling party and opposition ranks as long overdue.
Moagi, who is also Member of Parliament for Ramotswa, explained that the National Energy Policy (NEP) is intended to guide the management and development of Botswana’s energy sector, especially the penetration of new and renewable energy sources into the country’s energy mix in order to attain energy self-sufficiency and increased security of supply.
“The NEP is expected to create a conducive environment that will not only facilitate investment in the energy sector but also add value to export revenues, facilitate production in other sectors of the economy and create employment within the energy sector,” he said.
Moagi said that the new policy will set a foundation that will steer the utilization of locally available energy resources optimally and efficiently to ensure that Botswana attains a sustainable and low carbon economic development.
Botswana has experienced some constraints in the energy sector in recent years, which to some extent have negatively impacted the country’s economic development prospects.
A devastating power supply and demand mismatch was encountered between the years 2008 and 2014, and this breached the country’s power supply security even to date.
Moagi noted that this encounter, and other such misfortunes have motivated the new policy to outline the principles, prospects and choices that are required to optimise the role of energy in the economy and maximise Botswana’s potential for the desired economic growth in line with the country’s Vision 2036.
Commenting on the Policy Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said the new energy roadmap would contribute towards achievement of national prosperity and economic diversification.
“This envisages Botswana’s transition from being a net energy importer to being self-sufficient and having surplus energy for export into the region, we applaud the minister for bringing this important document,” Tsogwane said.
Botswana has abundant coal resources, estimated at about 212 billion tonnes. Estimates of 196 trillion cubic feet of coal bed methane (CBM) have also been recorded and there is ongoing exploration of this resource.
Most of the coal extracted goes to power generation at Morupule power plant and the remaining small percentage is shared between local industrial use and export.
For CBM, commercially viable gas exploration is required to firm up resource quantification and associated development programs around this resource.
Botswana receives over 3,200 hours of sunshine per year, with an average insolation on a flat surface of 21MJ/m2.
Satellite images have revealed that Botswana has abundant countrywide irradiation presenting the highest values of direct normal irradiance (DNI) and global horizontal irradiance (GHI) the western and south-western regions, with a slight decrease towards the east.
The lowest values of irradiation are in a range of about 2,000 kWh/m²/annum (~5, 5 kWh/m²/day) DNI and GHI on average. This amount of insolation is among the highest in the world, making solar energy a promising renewable energy resource for Botswana.
Reasonable wind speeds exist within the country with the highest wind resources potential located in the South-West, Central and Eastern parts of the country, with averaging wind speeds above 7m/s, wind power density above 200W/m2 and annual energy production above 4.5 GWh/year.
The wind potential has not been fully explored and has primarily been used on windmills for water pumping by farmers.
Botswana has theoretical biomass energy potential of 32 million GJ per year, estimated from a considerable biomass potential of 20 million tonnes per year.
The use of livestock residues (cow-dung) seems to offer the highest practical opportunity for energy production in Botswana, while municipal solid waste (MSW) can also contribute to the improvement of energy generation, especially at the city level.
Other residues such as crop and agro-industrial residues, only offer a limited energy potential that could be tapped by rural communities.
Botswana is highly reliant on imports of refined petroleum products to meet the liquid fuels demand since the country does not have any proven crude oil reserves/refineries.
By far, a large amount of liquid fuels supply comes from South Africa. As at 2018, the local consumption of petroleum products stood at about 1.2 billion litres per annum for petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin combined, and about 20 million litres of aviation fuels per annum.
Commenting on the National Energy Policy, opposition members of parliament said effective implementation of the policy would require a legislation and/or regulations for robust development of the new and renewable energy subsector.
Moagi reiterated that the provision of energy services is capital intensive and heavily reliant on technology. “It is thus important to come up with innovative ways of delivering these services”
Currently, there is no research institution dedicated to carrying out energy research and development (R&D) to inform policy.
However, there exists various institutions or think tanks that carry out energy research from various perspectives.
These include Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), the University of Botswana (UB), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), and Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH).
Moagi shared that however regrettably, there is neither a clearly defined collaboration among and/or between these researchers nor is there any between the researchers, the industry and the policy makers.
Recognising that coordination of efforts in R&D is key to promoting innovation, technology application and development for deployment of appropriate modern energy services; the NEP seeks to aid coordination of research activities in the energy sector as well as facilitate development and establishment of academic/industry strategic research alliances.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) moved swiftly this week to suspend BBS Limited from trading its securities following a brawl between Board of Directors and Managing Director, Pius Molefe, which led to corporate governance crisis at the organisation.
In an interesting series of events that unfolded this week, incumbent board Chairperson, Pelani Siwawa-Ndai moved to expel Molefe together with board Secretary, Sipho Showa, who also doubles up as Head of Marketing and Communications. It is reported that Siwawa-Ndai in her capacity as the board Chairperson wrote letters of dismissals to Molefe and Showa.
Following receipt of letters, the duo sought and was furnished with legal opinion from Armstrong Attorneys advising them that their dismissals were unlawful hence they were told to continue to report to work and carry out their duties.
Documents seen by BusinessPost articulate that in the meeting which was held on the 1st of April, the five outgoing board members, unlawfully took resolutions to extend their contracts by a further 90 days after April 30 2021 as they face tough competition from five other candidates who had expressed interest to run for the elections.
Moreover, at the said meeting, management explained that neither management nor the board have the authority to decline nominations submitted by shareholders or the interested parties which is in line with Companies Act and also BBS Limited constitution.
Molefe also revealed that as management they cautioned the board that it was conflicted and it would be improper for it to influence the election process as it seems they intended to do so. “Nonetheless, in a totally unprecedented move in the history of BBSL, the board then collectively passed the unlawful resolutions below. Leading to the illegitimate decisions, the board had brazenly directed that its discussions on the Board elections should not be recorded totally violating sound corporate governance,” reads the statement released by management this week.
When giving their legal advice, Armstrong Attorneys noted that notice for the AGM should state individuals proposed to be elected to the board and directors have no legal authority to prevent the process.
Armstrong Attorneys also noted that, “due process” cited by board members are simply to ensure that the five retiring Directors avoid competition from interested candidates to be appointed to the BBS Limited board. The law firm further opined that the resolution of the 90 day extension of term of the five directors pending re-election or election was unlawful.
Molefe expressed with regret that BBS has been suspended from trading by BSE until the current matter has been resolved. “I am concerned by this development and other potentially harmful actions on the business. As management, we are engaging with stakeholders to mitigate any negative impact on BBS Limited,” expressed a distressed Molefe.
He assured shareholders and the rest of Management that they are working very hard to ensure that the issues are being dealt with in a mature manner. BBS which hopes to become the first indigenous commercial bank has seen its shares halted barely four months after BSE lifted the trading suspension of shares for BBS following submission of their published 2019 audited financial statements.
According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the local bourse, Thapelo Tsheole said the halting of shares of BBSL is to maintain fair, efficient and orderly securities trading environment. “The securities have been suspended to allow BBS to provide clarity to the market concerning the recent allegations which have been brought to the attention of the BSE relating to the company’s Board of Directors and senior management,” said Tsheole.
Meanwhile in their audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020, BBS recorded a loss of P14.6 million as at 31 December 2020 compared to the loss of P35.7 million for the comparative year ended 31 December 2019. According to Molefe the year under review was the most challenging for the bank, its shareholders and customers endured the difficult economic environment and the negative impact of the coronavirus.
He revealed that as the bank, they were forced to put in place several measures to ensure that the business withstands the impact of coronavirus and also to cushion mortgage customers from the effects of the pandemic. “Since April 2020 up to the end of December 2020, BBS assisted 555 mortgage customers with a payment holiday,’’ he said.
This is the bank whose total balance sheet declined by 12 percent from P4, 626 billion for the year ended. 31 December 2019 to P4, 088 billion as at 31 December 2020. As if things were not bad enough, total savings and deposits at the bank declined by 14 percent from a balance of P2, 885 billion as at 31 December 2019 to P2, 494 billion as at 31 December 2020.
On a much brighter side, BBSL mortgage loans and advances improved from P3, 401 billion to P3.408 billion with impairment allowance significantly improving to P78, 648 million from P102, 532 million for the year under review, representing a positive variance of 23 percent. BBS maintained a strong capital base with capital adequacy ratios of 26.32% for the year ended 31 December 2020.
Molefe was optimistic and anticipated a positive outcome during the implementation of the new BBS corporate strategy, whose main drive is commercialization of operations, which is in full force. “It will be spurred on by the positive results we have achieved for the year ended 31 December 2020, and our planned submission of our banking license application to Bank of Botswana which we anticipate to operate as a commercial bank in the third quarter of 2021,” he alluded.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Premium Nickel Resources Botswana (PNRB), Montwedi Mphathi, has said his company will resuscitate the formerly owned BCL assets and deliver a new, sustainable and cutting edge mining operation.
The new mine which will leverage on modern and next generation technology, will be environmentally sensitive and cognisant of the needs of its people and that of the communities around the area of influence.
In a statement last week, Premium Nickel Resources Botswana and its parent company, the Canadian headquartered Premium Nickel Resources announced that they have now completed the Exclusivity Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Liquidator.
The MOU will govern a six-month exclusivity period to complete its due diligence and related purchase agreements on the Botswana nickel-copper-cobalt (Ni-Cu-Co) assets formerly operated by BCL Limited (BCL), that are currently in liquidation.
On February 10, 2021, Lefoko Moagi, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security of Botswana, affirmed in Parliament a press release by the Liquidator for the BCL Group of Companies, stating that PNR was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire assets formerly owned by BCL.
“This is encouraging for the company and for Botswana. Our ambition in this new project dubbed “Tsholofelo” is to redevelop the former BCL assets into a modern, environmentally sensitive, efficient NI-Cu-Co-water producer where sustainability and the people are at the forefront of the decisions we make,” said Mphathi in a statement last Thursday.
“We also understand that no matter how successful we are at building the “New BCL” , our success will only be measured at our ability to create local wealth , skills and support the continued transition of local economy to a longer term sustainable base.”
The next step during the exclusivity period will be the completion of the definitive agreement. Simultaneous to this the PNRB will be conducting additional investigative work on site to further its understanding of the potential of these assets.
Specifically the company will complete an environmental assessment, a metallurgical study, a review of legal and social responsibilities, a review of the mine closure and rehabilitation plans and an on-site inspection of the legacy mining infrastructure and equipment that has been under care and maintenance.
Mphathi said they continue to monitor the global Covid-19 developments noting that they are committed to working with health and safety authorities as a priority and in full respect of all government and local Covid-19 protocol requirements. PNRB has developed Covid-19 travel, living and working protocols in anticipation of moving forward to on site due diligence.
“We will integrate these protocols with the currently applicable protocols of Ministry of Health & Wellness as well as District Health Management Team ( DHMT) and surrounding communities,” reads a statement released by the Gaborone based Premium Nickel Resources team.
PNRB is looking to become a catalyst in participating and building a strong economy for Botswana, with a purpose where respect and trust are core to every single step that will be taken. “Our success will mean following international best-in-class practices for the protection of Botswana’s environment and the focus on its people, building partnerships and earning respect, through cooperation and collaboration,” explains PNRB on its website.
“We are committed to Governance through transparent accountability and open communication within our team and with all our stakeholders.” Mphathi, a former BCL Executive, is widely celebrated for achieving unprecedented profitability at the mine during his tenure as General Manager.
The Serowe-born mining guru obtained a Diploma in Mining Technology from Haileybury School of Mines in Canada. He later obtained a B.Eng. Mining degree from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Mphathi went on to City University in London, UK and obtained a M.Sc. in Industrial and Administrative Sciences.
Before ascending to the top country managerial role of Premium Nickel Resources. Mphathi was General Manager of Botswana Ash (Botash), Southern Africa’s leading salt and soda ash producer. He was at some point linked to Debswana top post, which is still to date not substantively filled following the death of Managing Director, Albert Milton, in August 2019.
With Mphathi out of the race and now leading the rebuilding of his former employer, the top post at De Beers- Botswana joint venture is likely to be filled by current acting Managing Director Lynette Armstrong, a seasoned finance executive with unparalleled experience in the extractive industry.
“We are happy to hear that former General Manager of BCL, Mr Montwedi Mphathi, has a relationship with the new Company that intends to resuscitate the mine, he is an experienced Mining Executive who knows BCL better, we want the mine to be brought back to life so that our people can be employed ” said Dithapelo Keorapetse Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West recently in Parliament.
BCL was liquidated in October 2016 following a series of losses and government bailout occasioned by low Copper prices and allegedly poor Investment decisions and maladministration. Recently PNR CEO, Keith Morrison said his team of seasoned experts both from Canada and Botswana are committed to resuscitate the BCL assets and deliver a high performance mining operation.
“The World, Botswana and the mining industry have changed dramatically since mining first started at the former BCL assets in the early 1970s. The nickel-copper-cobalt resources remaining at these mines are now critical metals, required for the continued development of a decarbonized and electrified global economy,” he said.
Morrison added: “As we move forward, it is our goal to demonstrate the potential economics of re-developing a combination of the former BCL assets to produce Ni-Cu-Co and water in a manner that is inclusive of modern environmental, social and corporate governance responsibilities.”
He explained that to attain this, extensive upgrades to infrastructure will be required with an emphasis on safety, sustainability and the application of new technologies to minimize the environmental impact and total carbon footprint for the new operations.
“Our team remains committed to working with the local communities and all of the stakeholders throughout this period and we encourage anyone with questions or feedback to reach out to us directly,” he noted.