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Lesedi La Rona: Lucara diamond named

The world’s second largest diamond has been named “Lesedi La rona” following a month long competition which saw Thembani Moitlhobogi’s entry clinching the winning name. Lesedi La Rona means “our light” and it surely shone light in Moitlhobogi’s account as he pocketed P25, 000 for coming up with the name.  The naming of the spectacular diamond comes three months after Lucara Diamond Company unearthed a 1,111carat gem quality, Type IIa diamond.

The white Type IIa diamond is considered the purest form of diamond.  The magnificent stone, which originated from the south lobe of Lucara’s Karowe Mine, is the world’s second largest gem quality diamond ever recovered since the discovery of the world largest diamond; the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905.

“The outpouring of pride and patriotism shown by all the participants in the contest was incredible. The diamond industry has played a vital role in the country’s development, allowing for significant and ongoing investment in world-class healthcare, education and infrastructure. “Lesedi La Rona” symbolizes the pride and history of the people of Botswana,” beamed William Lamb, CEO and President of Lucara, in a press release.

While the naming of the diamond offers the latest information on Lucara’s three months old rare find, the value of the diamond remains speculative, with estimates now hovering around $60 million. It also appears Lucara is not in any hurry to sell the diamond, something that Lamb hinted to in late 2015.

“We need to see how best to get maximum value of the stone” he said. Instead the company has announced the dates for its first Exceptional Stone Tender (“EST”) of 2016. The tender will feature ten diamonds with a combined weight of 1,525 carats including a magnificent 296 carat Type IIa diamond. The tender does not include any of the three previously announced exceptional diamonds recovered in November 2015.

Karowe mine has been a rare source of exceptional diamonds with its consistent recovery of large high value diamonds. Although it produces less than 1% of world’s diamonds, the mine is recovering more than 50% of the world’s diamonds larger than 100 carats.

In January 2013, it sold a 9.46 carat blue diamond recovered from Karowe mine for $4.515 million. This was later followed by the mining of a 239 carat diamond, which at the time was the largest diamond ever to have been recovered from the highly prolific Orapa kimberlite in over 40 years of production. This set in motion more discoveries of valuable diamonds, a 257 carat gem stone was unearthed in September 2013 and in May 2014, Lucara had mined 13 diamonds greater than 100 carats, two of which were greater than 200 carats. Just earlier this year in April, Lucara’s prized jewel was the 342 gem quality diamond mined from the central and south lobe of Karowe. The diamond was auctioned for $20.55 million.

Lucara’s Exceptional Stone Tender will be a closely watched affair as it will offer glimpses on the trajectory of diamond prices. In a 2015 diamond prices review by Rapaport magazine; Diamond sector profitability came under the spotlight in 2015 due to sluggish consumer demand in emerging markets and high rough prices relative to the resulting polished. Consequently, the year was one the industry would rather forget as it was characterized by excess supply and consolidation. Polished prices fell as manufacturers held large quantities of diamonds that were difficult to sell. There were simply too many diamonds available for too few buyers.

The recent data on diamond prices this year leaves everything uncertain as to what direction the diamonds market might take. The Rapaport Monthly Report demonstrates that polished prices rose in January due to shortages rather than increasing diamond demand. Polished trading was driven by U.S. jewellers replenishing stock sold during the holiday season as well as some inventory purchases. The report further states that diamond market sentiment improved during January and dealers feel that the worst may be over.

Prospects for manufacturers’ profitability improved as De Beers reduced rough diamond prices by an estimated 7 to 10 percent at the January sight. The company’s sales surged 118 percent to $540 million during January, compared with $248 million in December. Rough demand increased as manufacturers started to raise polished production to fill gaps in supply. Shortages are expected to support diamond prices throughout the first quarter, as rough bought in January will take a few months to pass through the manufacturing process

However, uncertainty remains as consumer demand is sluggish in emerging markets. Prices for diamonds are at their lowest level in five years as demand declined sharply in China, India and other emerging nations. China is the world's second-largest consumer of the precious stones after the U.S. The rise in diamond prices for January 2016 does not reflect the overall market sentiments as the price increases were largely driven by Anglo American, decision to stimulate consumers’ appetites through large scale advertising. De Beers (owned by Anglo American), the largest supplier of rough diamonds by value, has poured millions of dollars into advertising in the US and China, trying to boost jewellery sales as part of a strategy to unclog the manufacturing pipeline and lift demand and prices for rough diamonds. The miner also closed two operations in 2015:   Damtshaa in Botswana. Just recently Ghaghoo Diamond mine, also in Botswana, had to downscale production due to weak diamond prices.

Lucara Diamond Corp which trades on the Botswana’s Stock Exchange foreign counter has made impressive gains since the discovery of Lesedi La Rona diamond. In November 2015, before the discovery, the stock was trading for P13.78, but quickly rose in the following months to trade at P17.69, marking a spectacular 28 percent in returns within 3 months. On December 17, Lucara paid out gross dividend of 0.1616 thebe per share to its shareholders

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Business

New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022
Youth

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.”

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Business

BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022
BHC

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.”

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Business

Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022
Commercial-banks

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.

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