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Botswana tops in Global Entrepreneurship Index Report

The inaugural Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index has ranked Botswana highly, placing it in the top three countries in Africa. The Index assessed 85 countries in the world and it is the first in an annual series where it will monitor the movement of these countries.


The Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index is based on 5 broad pillars that span education, entrepreneurial environment, infrastructure, finance and policy.  Each pillar contains between three and seven indices. These indices were sourced from a variety of sources such as United Nations and World Trade Organisation statistics. The 5 pillars aim to give a balance of physical barriers to entrepreneurship such as poor infrastructure, government policies preventing entrepreneurship and also assessing the entrepreneurial environment.

 

The objective of the Index is to highlight which countries are performing well and which countries could improve. “We will measure performance over time, looking out for innovative solutions that are setting new benchmarks and hold the potential to be adopted elsewhere. Through the findings of the Index, we provide clear policy recommendations to the public and private sectors that we hope will, in turn, further the success of a great number of promising entrepreneurs around the world,” said Mr. Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, in the report’s foreword.


Mr. Thakkar praised Singapore, the top-scoring country in the Index, for its robust pro-entrepreneurial policies, high level of education and strong entrepreneurial culture. He says Singapore has done particularly well in developing itself as a regional hub for venture capital investment, stating that one reason it scores so highly is due to schemes such as the government backed Early Stage Venture Investment Fund which, each year, awards five venture capitalists with matching government funding that enables them to invest widely and confidently.


Botswana is placed in the 42nd position in the overall world rankings, and third position in Africa, falling behind Namibia and Rwanda respectively. The assessed five pillars are assigned 100 points each. The country managed a cumulative score of 232 points out of the total 500 points, scoring 58 for policy, 32 for infrastructure, and 48 for both education, entrepreneurial and finance. Botswana managed to outperform Namibia in terms of policy but fell shortly in the other pillars. Rwanda outdid Botswana when it came to policy, entrepreneurship and Finance. Botswana also got a special mention in the report for its exploits.


“Certain African countries performed extremely highly on mobile phone penetration highlighting how their digital infrastructure is changing. Botswana, for example, scored higher than the UK, the USA, and Singapore,” the report said. According to the report the top countries for entrepreneurship in Africa are Namibia, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. Of the top three African countries in the index, Namibia and Botswana are stronger on the education pillar because of comparatively higher levels of literacy and quality in education.

 

Both countries have made education central to their development. According to the World Bank, Namibia set aside 26% of its national budget for education in 2010and Botswana 20% in 2009. Rwanda scores highly on the policy and finance pillars driven by the government initiatives to ease of doing business. Credit is easily available and business transparency is high. However Zambia scored the highest in the finance pillar primarily because of the availability of credit and low tax rate. This places Zambia in the top 10 of all countries globally on the Finance Pillar, just behind the USA.

In the report’s special section focusing on Africa, it was highlighted that Africa is not meeting its entrepreneurial potential due significant challenges in terms of political stability, underdeveloped infrastructure, poor education and under-diversified economies. Within this context, Africa as a continent comes much lower down the Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index.


“While African countries tend to have lower scores across all five pillars on the index, infrastructure and education are the pillars in which Africa is particularly weak. Comparatively lower scores for infrastructure are primarily driven by a lack of electrical access and the technology that comes with reliable access to energy, such as telecommunications and internet access,” the report stated.


The report states that African countries show huge potential not only for entrepreneurship in general, but especially among women. The majority of women in sub-Saharan African countries are employed, far higher than the OECD average. However, women are often employed in informal and low-skilled labour, rather than in managerial or ownership positions. The OECD estimates that approximately 70% of agricultural labour are women and that women produce about 90% of all food.

 

Women are also less likely to be educated and literate. Further complicating matters is the increasing number of unemployed youth. “Unlike much of the world, Africa’s youth population is growing. There are already around 200 million people aged 15 to 24. This brings significant challenges to developing economies and many countries have high proportions of unemployed young people (aged 15-24). In South Africa and Egypt, two of Africa’s largest economies, around half of young people are unemployed.”

In conclusion, the report noted that one of the main barriers to Africa’s economies and entrepreneurs is the lack of infrastructure, especially access to electricity. There is simply not enough power for the needs of its population and its businesses. Where supply exists, it is often sporadic and unreliable. “One solution lies with Africa’s most abundant natural resource – the sun.

 

The theoretical reserves of Africa’s solar energy are estimated at 60,000,000 TWh/year, 40% of the global total. Multiple agencies, such as the United Nations (UN) are already focussed on improving energy access, especially from solar power, driven by a green agenda, the reduced technological cost and the investment opportunity,” the report advised before adding that investment in solar could lead to a cycle of ever greater returns for investors, entrepreneurs and communities. It will create a need for companies to service the solar infrastructure while opening up opportunities for other business and services to benefit from the power generated.


Mara Foundation was established in 2009 as the social enterprise of Mara Group – a young and dynamic pan-African investment group with operations in banking, real estate, infrastructure, and technology. Mara Group was founded by Ashish J Thakkar who began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 15 and, together with his family, has built up Mara Group into a company with investments and operations spanning 25 African countries and 3 continents. Mara Group has presence in Botswana through one of its subsidiary, ABC Holdings which operates the BancABC banking operations.
 

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The  Bulb World CEO selected for Africa’s prestigious award

22nd July 2021

The Bulb World Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and entrepreneur, Ketshephaone Jacob has been selected as a 2021 Top 50 Africa’s Business Hero.

Jacob was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants – many of whom are highly-skilled and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Africa’s Business Hero, sponsored by technology entrepreneur, Jack Ma, aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

The initiative is as inclusive as possible and applications were open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages who operate businesses formally registered and headquartered in an African country, and that have a 3 year-track record.

Every year, finalists are selected to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition and participate in a TV Show that will be broadcast online and across the continent.

The finalists will compete for a share of US $1.5 million in grant money.

The Bulb World, is home grown LED light manufacturing company, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017.

The Bulb World operate from the Special Economic Zone of Selibe Phikwe. Early this year, The BulB World announced its expansion to South Africa, setting in motion its ambitious Africa expansion plan.

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Mining production down 12 % IN Q1 2021

14th July 2021

During the first quarter of 2021, production in Botswana’s economic nucleus- the mining sector contracted by 12 percent. This is according to Mining Production Index released by Statistics Botswana this week.

The country’s central data body revealed that Index of Mining production stood at 74.4 during the first quarter of 2021, showing a negative year on-year growth of 12.0 percent, from 84.6 registered during the first quarter of 2020.

The main contributor to the decline in mining production came from the Diamonds sector, which contributed negative 11.7 percentage points. Soda Ash was the only positive contributor in the mining production, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point. However Soda Ash’s contribution was insignificant to offset the negative contribution made by Diamonds.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis by Statistics Botswana experts shows an increase of 16.3 percent from the index of 64.0 during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 74.4 observed during the period under review.

Diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The decrease was as a result of planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to Covid-19 protocols restrictions.

Botswana’s diamond sector is underpinned by Debswana, the country’s flagship rough producer- a 50-50 joint venture between government and global mining giant De Beers Group. The other producer is Canadian based Lucara Diamond Corp through its wholly owned Karowe Mine which is a relatively small but significant production that has made a name for itself worldwide with rare diamond recoveries of unprecedented carat size.

On the other hand, quarter-on quarter analysis shows that production has improved, registering a positive growth of 17.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter – 2020 Q4.

Though production was significantly lower in the first quarter, the two producers ended Q2 with rare diamond recoveries. Debswana early last month found the world’s third largest gem diamond – weighing 1098 carat at Jwaneng Mine, its flagship gem quality diamonds producer, also regarded the world’s richest diamond mine.

A week later Lucara  announced its second biggest recovery, the 1174 carat clivage near-gem dug from its Karowe Mine. The diamond is the world third in carat size after the plus-3000 carat Cullinan found in South Africa back in 1905 and the 1758 carat Sewelo unearthed at its Karowe mine in 2019. Debswana and Lucara are investing billions of pulas in underground mining projects to extend the life of its mines, Jwaneng & Karowe respectively.

In terms of Gold which is produced at Mupani mine near Botswana’s second city of Francistown output decreased by 17.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter. The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.

Soda Ash production increased by 11.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In terms of quarter-on-quarter Soda Ash production also showed an increase, picking up by 2.1 percent during the period under review. The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.

Salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered a decrease of 32.9 percent during the period under review. Both salt and Sodash are produced by partly government owned Botswana Ash (BotsAsh) operating from Sowa town near Makgadikgadi pans.

Coal production decreased by 11.2 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station following the remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review.

Although production fell, Statistics Botswana says there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production increased by 20.4 percent compared to the preceding quarter.

Botswana’s flagship coal producer is Morupule Coal Mine; a wholly state owned mining company located in Palapye producing primarily for Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s power generation plants Morupule A & B.

The other coal producer is Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which operates a 390 MT Coal Resource mine in Masama near Media in the southwestern edge of the Mmamabula Coalfields.

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Gov’t awards mining licence for Gantsi Copper Mine

14th July 2021
Moagi

Department of Mines in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has awarded mining licence to Tshukudu Metals-a subsidiary of Aussie firm Sandfire Resources ,giving the company a green light to start piecing the ground at its Motheo Copper Project near Gantsi.

Lefoko Moagi, minister in charge of mineral resources in Botswana confirmed to weekendpost on Tuesday. Minister Moagi revealed that “the licence has been approved , but Sandfire Resources as a listed company will report to its shareholders and investors then make an official public statement” he said.

Based on a forecast copper price of US$3.16/lb (reflecting current long-term consensus pricing) the Base Case 3.2Mtpa – Ghantsi copper project is forecast to generate US$664 million (over P7 billion) in pre-tax free cash-flow and US$987 million (over P10 billion) in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation), at a forecast all-in sustaining cost of US$1.76/lb over its first 10 years of operations.

In December 2020, the Board of Sandfire Resources approved the commercial development of the Motheo Copper Mine located in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana, marking a key step in its transformation into a global, diversified, and sustainable mining company.

Tshukudu Metals Botswana (Pty) Limited (Tshukudu) a 100% owned subsidiary will be the owner and operator of the Motheo Copper Mine which is scheduled to produce up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate over a 12 year mine life.TMB is targeting development of its Motheo Copper Mine in 2021 and 2022, with its first production in 2023.

GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING UP 15 % STAKE ON OFFER

Beginning of this year presentations were made to the Department of Mines as part of the Mining Licence approval process and to the Ghanzi Regional Council, additional information was requested by Department of Mines in April and was duly supplied by the company.

As part of the Mining Licence approval process, the Government of Botswana has a right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in all mining projects locally. Quizzed on whether government through Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) would be taking up stake in the project Minister Moagi said, “No consideration is being made on that regard”.

“Government is not considering taking up a stake in the Ghantsi Copper Mine project, every opportunity is assessed on all risks, but Government makes money all the while from leases, taxes and royalties, remember if you take stake you are liable for liabilities of the project as well,” Moagi said.

MINING CONTRACT

Last month Sandfire announced that it has awarded over P5 billion worth mining contract to African Mining Services (AMS), a subsidiary of Perenti, to deliver the open cast operation.

The contract, which has an estimated value of US$496 million (over 5 billion), is the largest single operational contract for the new Motheo Project covering a period of 7 years and 3 months, with provision for a one-year extension.

The contract according to Sandfire Resources was awarded following a competitive 3-stage tender process which saw a number of key factors taken into consideration when selecting the preferred contractor.

These included Citizen Economic Empowerment, safety culture, equipment suitability and availability, commercial terms and identified improvement opportunities. Under the terms of the contract, AMS has agreed to form a 70:30 Joint Venture with a suitable local Botswana partner or partners.

The JV is expected to be finalized ahead of commencement of mining in early 2022. African Mining Services has been operating in Africa for over 30 years. AMS’ parent company, ASX listed diversified mining services group Perenti, already has a presence in Botswana through Barminco, their underground mining division, at the large-scale Khoemacau Copper Mine located 200km north-east of Motheo.

Last month Sandfire executives said the award of the open pit mining contract represents another key milestone in advancing the Motheo Project towards production, with all components of the contract in line with the key parameters outlined in the December 2020 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).

The company said full-scale construction of the US$279 million (over P 3 billion ) mine development is expected to commence immediately upon receipt of the Mining Licence, with mining scheduled to commence in early 2022 ahead of first production in early 2023. This week Sandfire Resources advertised over 10 positions in calling on applications from geologists, mining engineers and geotechnical engineers.

The Motheo mine has an initial mine life of 12.5 years based on production from the T3 pit. The initial development is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 600 direct full-time jobs during operations, with at least 95% of the total mine workforce expected to be made of up of Botswana citizens.

Later in the week Sandfire Resources announced in the company website that it has received the licence. Sandfire’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Karl Simich, said the award of the Mining Licence represented a major milestone that would see a significant increase in construction and development activities on site.

“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo, with our construction crews expected to mobilise to site over the next few days. I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their support throughout the approvals process, which will see Motheo come on-stream in 2023 as one of very few new copper mines commencing production globally.”

Simich said the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 600 full-time jobs during operations, and represents the foundation for Sandfire’s long-term growth plans in Botswana.

“Our vision is that Motheo will form the centre of a new, long-life copper production hub in in the central portion of the world-class Kalahari Copper Belt, where we hold an extensive ground-holding spanning Botswana and Namibia,” he said.

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