The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has announced that they have entered into a joint venture for the establishment of a wholesale telecommunications service provider. The agreement will see Liquid Telecom tapping into BPC’s expansive infrastructure, creating a new telecoms network provider with extensive reach across Botswana. Liquid Telecom was selected as the preferred joint venture partner following a competitive bidding process, in which five local and international telecommunications companies submitted bids.
The agreement was signed by the outgoing BPC CEO Mr. Jacob Raleru, and Liquid Telecom Group CEO Mr. Nic Rudnick at a ceremony held in Gaborone on 18 October 2016. While details of the deal remain sketchy, it was announced however that the joint venture will operate under the name Liquid Telecom Botswana after the power utility company decided to take a stake in the newly created venture. The two partners say the structure of the deal will enable BPC to make more effective use of its existing assets, while allowing Liquid Telecom to better serve the network needs of its wholesale and enterprise customers in and outside the region.
“The use of BPC’s optic fibre network will be granted to Liquid Telecom Botswana under an Indefeasible Right of Use Agreement (IRUA). Rather than taking any rental payments, the capital value of the IRUA will be used to purchase BPC’s equity stake, which is 42.5%. Liquid Telecom will be the majority stakeholder and will, as the technology expert, be responsible for the day-to-day management of the company. The arrangement allows BPC to diversify its revenue base, while maintaining focus on its own core mandate of providing secure and reliable electricity services to the national economy,” read a joint statement from BPC and Liquid Telecom.
BPC is a state owned company responsible for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within Botswana. The company, as the only supplier of electricity in the country, has built an extensive network that covers almost the whole country, with particular emphasis on settlements. BPC owns and operates an optical fibre cable network that is embedded in some of its high voltage transmission lines. This fibre network will be commercialised for the first time in order to provide network services across the country.
A subsidiary of Econet Global, Liquid Telecom began life as the satellite and voice operator Econet Satellite Services, which was founded in 1997. Rebranding to Liquid Telecom in 2004, the company went on to launch the high-speed, cross-border fibre network linking southern Africa to the rest of the world in 2009. The company has since grown to provide services to more than 50 global wholesale carriers operating in eastern, central and southern Africa, Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, as well as the national and international enterprise market. Liquid Telecom supplies fibre optic, satellite and international carrier services to Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs and businesses of all sizes. It also provides payment solutions to financial institutions and retailers, as well as data storage and communication solutions to businesses across Africa and beyond.
The latest venture, Liquid Telecom Botswana, joins the family of Liquid Telecom Group which operates through several African countries. Liquid Telecom Mauritius is the holding company for the Liquid Telecom Group, with wholesale, enterprise and retail operations in 15 locations across Africa and beyond. Over the last three years, LTM has invested heavily in developing and building Liquid's terrestrial fibre-optic backbone throughout eastern, central and southern Africa. The group operates Liquid Telecom DRC, Liquid Telecom Kenya, Liquid Telecom Rwanda, Liquid Telecom SA, Liquid Telecom Uganda, Liquid Telecom Zambia, Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe and Liquid Telecom UK.
Liquid telecom’s previous big deal this year involved buying the South African fixed-line operator Neotel in a deal that will create the continent’s biggest broadband network. “The shareholders of Neotel –Tata Communications of India and minority shareholders led by Nexus Connexion (Nexus) – have agreed for Liquid Telecom to acquire Neotel for ZAR 6.55bn. Liquid Telecom is partnering with Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), a South African investment group, which has committed to take a 30% equity stake in Neotel. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is transformative and will create the largest pan-African broadband network. Through a single access point, businesses across Africa will be able to access 40 000kms of cross-border, metro and access fibre networks. These currently span 12 countries from South Africa to Kenya, with further expansion planned,” the company had said in June when announcing the deal.
While Liquid Telecom, the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa, is largely unknown in Botswana, the owner of the company is well known. The company an affiliate of Econet Group, a conglomerate founded by Dr Strive Masiyiwa, an enterprising Zimbabwean billionaire who first came to international prominence when he fought a five-year constitutional legal battle leading to the removal of the state monopoly in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector. The landmark ruling is regarded as one of the milestones in the opening up of African telecommunications to private capital. But in Botswana, Dr Masiyiwa is well known as the man who established Mascom, the leading network service provider. However Masiyiwa has over the years reduced his stake in Mascom and he now holds a minority stake through Econet Wireless.
The new venture, Liquid Telecom Botswana, will ply its trade in a field which has been dominated by BoFINet. The latter is owned by the government, and formerly a surrogate of Botswana Telecommunications Limited Company, is a wholesale provider of national and international telecommunication infrastructure. Core to BoFiNet’s mandate is to provide and operate a world class telecommunications backbone network infrastructure through it’s more than 9000km of fibre connectivity based on an SDH and DWDM network. Industry experts say the entrance of Liquid Telecom will provide new competition which might lower the price of connectivity, especially at a time when consumers are complaining of expensive yet slow data services.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.