Botswana Diamonds PLC (BOD) has announced on Thursday that it has made progress on its exploration campaign which was first announced at the beginning of March. The ongoing diamond exploration campaign in Botswana is part of the 50/50 joint venture between Botswana Diamonds and Alrosa, the world's leading diamond producer.
In early March, BOD detailed its forthcoming first half 2016 exploration programme for Botswana which was to begin the same month. It was also announced that Russia based Alrosa will manage the whole expedition. The exploration programme entailed drilling of one core hole to 300m depth and one or two large diameter holes, each 300 metres deep on kimberlite pipe AK21 on PL 260 in the Orapa are as well as drilling two or three follow-up holes, 80 metres each on PL 210 in the Orapa area.
The exploration will then move to hard rock and heavy concentrate sampling on PLs 260 and 210 in Orapa and on the company’s four licences in the Gope area. Finally, the exploration team was to engage in ground magnetic surveys and electromagnetic (TEM) surveys on PLs 260 and 085 in Orapa; and PLs 135, 136 and 137 in Gope. The budget for the exploration was put at $700,000 of which half will be paid by BOD.
At the time of the announcement, John Teeling, chairman, commented "This is a very focused programme. The wide diameter holes to be drilled on a known kimberlite on our new licence in Orapa, PL 260, are to test whether diamond grades improve at depth. The Gope area is emerging as an attractive diamond province with the Gem owned Ghaghoo mine and the Petra owned KX36 discovery. We have already explored three small licences in the area and found anomalies. The proposed work will identify drill targets."
In the recently released update, the Orapa exploration appears to be on track with sampling done in both sites where they hold prospecting licenses PL 260 and PL 210. At the PL 210, BOD announced that heavy concentrate sampling has taken place and the washing of the heavy concentrate samples has been completed and drilling to begin in May.
While the PL 260 area, they have engaged on diamond drilling on kimberlite pipe AK-21 of two boreholes to a total depth of 423 m. BOD says they are studying the core of the boreholes. Still on the same area, they undertook heavy concentrate sampling on detailed sites selected by the results of the airborne magnetic survey. This was followed by hard rock samples treatment and washing together with mineralogical analyses of the heavy concentrate and hard rock samples in the field laboratory. Now with the diamond drilling and heavy concentrate sampling having been completed, the company says reverse circulation drilling and sampling will continue into May.
At the Gope site, where the company holds four prospecting licenses, work is still underway. The ongoing work includes ground geophysical works and Transient Electro Magnetic soundings (TEM) on anomalies, heavy concentrate sampling on geophysical anomalies and washing of heavy concentrate samples together with mineralogical analyses of heavy concentrate samples in the field laboratory.
“The Alrosa-led team is applying state-of-the-art technology in an innovative way. Mineralogical analyses of heavy concentrate samples in the field laboratory allows us to accelerate results so that our experts can focus the drill programme,” read part of the update.
In March when the company detailed its exploration programme for the first half of the year, its share price rose by 3 percent in the London Stock Exchange (LSE) where its primarily listed. The stock price was to later surge by 92% on the 6th of April to trade at £1.8 from £0.93 after the company announced that the drilling programme has started.
The latest announcement on the progress of the exploration programme was also met by a good rally at the LSE as the share price shot up by 18% during the day but by the end of the trading day, the stock only managed an appreciation of 11% from the opening price of £1.48 to close at £1.65. In the Botswana Stock Exchange, where the company is listed under the foreign counter, the share price continued the trend as the news propelled the share price to jump by 35% from 14 thebe to 19 thebe, after 450 shares of the company were traded.
Botswana Diamonds plc is a diamond exploration and project development company. The Company holds exploration licenses in Botswana. The Company holds interests in approximately 30 licenses, of which over 10 are in a joint venture with Alrosa Overseas SA (Alrosa) and approximately three licenses are owned by the Company. It has over 10 licenses located in the Orapa Region and approximately 10 in the Central Kalahari (Gope) Region, near the Ghaghoo Diamond Mine. The Company also has rights over approximately 10 licenses in the Gope area of the Kalahari Desert.
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.