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Staying the Course, Despite a Relative Economic Slow Down

Africa Chief Executive Officer at EY, Ajen Sita

According to EY’s 2016 Africa attractiveness program 2016, Staying the course, despite a relative slow down, Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. This is reflected in the foreign direct investment (FDI) levels in 2015, where FDI project numbers increased by seven percent. Although, the capital value of projects was down year-on-year — from US$88.5b in 2014 to US$71.3b in 2015 — this was still higher than the 2010–2014 average of US$68b. Similarly, jobs created were down year-on-year, but, again ahead of the average for 2010–2014.

 Ajen Sita, Africa Chief Executive Officer at EY, comments, “Over the past year, global markets have experienced unprecedented volatility.

We’ve witnessed the collapse of commodity prices and a number of currencies across Africa, and with reference to the two largest markets, starting with South Africa, we saw GDP growth decline sharply to below one percent and the country averting a credit ratings downgrade; in Nigeria, the slowdown in that economy was impacted further by the decline in the oil price and currency devaluation pressure.”

Sita adds, “The reality is that economic growth across the region is likely to remain slower in coming years than it has been over the past 10 to 15 years, and the main reasons for a relative slowdown are not unique to Africa.

In fact, Africa was one of the only two regions in the world in which there was growth in FDI project levels over the past year.”

East Africa closes the FDI gap, with Kenya a big gainer

In 2015, East Africa recorded its highest share of FDI across Africa, achieving 26.3% of total projects. Southern Africa remained the largest investment region on the continent, although projects were down 11.6% from 2014 levels. The West Africa region saw a rebound in FDI projects by 16.2%, and interestingly in 2015, the region became the leading recipient of capital investment on the continent, outpacing Southern Africa.



North Africa experienced 8.5% year-on-year growth in FDI projects. Furthermore, while projects are increasing in North Africa, they are increasing at a much faster rate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Michael Lalor, EY’s Africa Business Center Leader, adds, “In a context of heightened concerns about economic and political risk across the continent, FDI flows remain robust, and in line with levels we have seen over the past five years.

A key factor here is the structural shift in FDI — from a high concentration of source countries and destination markets and sectors, to a far more diverse FDI landscape. As a result, risks and opportunities are being spread much wider, and there is no longer an overdependence on a limited group of investors or sectors to drive FDI performance.”

Historical investors gain strength, new investors emerge

The US retained its position in 2015, as the largest investor in the continent, with 96 investment projects valued at US$6.9b.

During 2015, traditional investors such as the UK and France, as well as the UAE and India, also showed renewed interest in Africa.

Investors diversify focus across sectors

Over the past decade, there has been a shift in sector focus in FDI from extractive to consumer-facing industries. Mining and metals, coal, oil and natural gas, which were previously the key sectors attracting major FDI flows, have given way to consumer products and retail (CPR), financial services and technology, media and telecommunications (TMT), accounting for 44.7% of FDI projects in 2015. In 2015, further evidence of sector diversification came through, with business services, automotive, cleantech and life sciences all rising in significance and becoming the likely “next wave” for investors.



Striking a balance between growth, profitability and managing risk

Sita concludes, “Given the growth potential in and relative underdevelopment of many African markets, the primary focus for many companies over the past few years has been on entering new markets, capturing market share and driving revenue growth. A combination of factors — including tightening economic conditions, increasingly well-informed consumers and citizens, intensifying competition, a heightened sense of global geopolitical uncertainty, and shifting priorities from global or regional HQ — is now driving a change in focus toward striking a greater balance between growth, profitability and risk management.”

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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