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BONA Life preaches long term planning

BONA Life Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Regina Sikalesele-Vaka is confident that her company will have a significant impact in the insurance industry as it strives to blend its marketing of products with education for Batswana when it comes to insurance.

Sikalesele-Vaka knows that because of the challenging economic environment, which has led to high consumerism and indebtedness, many Batswana are unable to adequately save for their retirement. Therefore BONA Life has committed to focus on retirement products like pensions and retirement annuities. But they are also working on new products that promise tangible benefits in the immediate.

According to BONA Life Chief, there is need to educate Batswana more on the importance of financial planning and also how to actually do the planning. Sikalesele-Vaka said Batswana must be inducted on the benefits of long term planning, “our people should think about insurance when they are still young, because that is when it makes more sense,” she said. BONA Life has introduced a Pension Plan, which helps people plan for the future. “It does not matter whether you are in the pension fund or note. It is highly flexible, it allows you to put in a lump sum at your free will, it allows you to contribute what you can afford,” she said. “Everyone in retirement will invest in Bona Life annuity product, which will be designed to augment retirement benefits coupled with our attractive funeral scheme,” an upbeat Sikalesele – Vaka explained.

Further, Bona Life, has introduced the mortgage protector, to avoid situations where homes are lost to financiers in the event of ill-health or death. She explained that the mortgage protector helps clear one’s debt in the event of incapacitation that leads to lack of income, or in the event of death. Sikalesele-Vaka said the Mortgage Protector will actually pay back the money if the policy owner clears their mortgage. “Either way you get your money back,” she said.   

The Monyadi or Wedding Planning another exciting product that Sikalesele-Vaka says will excite their clients and help in their planning for marriages. She said it allows people to start planning for weddings at a young age, “You can also plan for your children’s weddings through this product,” she said. BONA Life also has a funeral product that covers about 23 members of the family. Sikalesele-Vaka said this product is very competitive and encouraged Batswana to take it up because it can help them prepare for unfortunate situation of death in the family. “I am speaking of trusted and innovative financial services that will serve interests of our clients,” she said. 

Formerly called Bramer Life Insurance, BONA Life’s new focus is meant to realign the company to its new shareholders, among them Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).

Sikalesele-Vaka said they have developed flagship annuity retirement products for BPOPF and other pensioners from different employers. Sikalesele-Vaka is of the view that there is an urgent need for younger generations to start saving for their retirement as soon as possible, especially in response to the changing economic realities of high consumerism and indebtedness.

Sikalesele-Vaka said Bona Life is working closely with policy makers to ensure that employers are compelled by law to provide pensions for employees, as has been the case with the BPOPF and government employees. While this could help spur the business, the BONA Life CEO is also of the view that the law will come in handy for a lot of employees who do not have pensions.

According to Sikalesele-Vaka there is ample opportunity for BONA Life, as a citizen entrant to significantly reduce this dominance by providing relevant financial solutions that resonate with Batswana. She said the level of household debt in Botswana remains relatively high compared to global trends whilst the level of penetration of the life insurance industry remains relatively low.

Bona Life seeks to use the strength and structures of shareholders especially Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) to get more clients with a redirected focus.

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Dark days as Aviation industry collapses

22nd November 2020
Air Botswana

As the Aviation industry takes a COVID-19 pummeling, for Africa the numbers are staggering, Chief Executive Officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac has observed.

Speaking recently at the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has been hosting an Annual General Assembly, de Juniac said traffic is down 89% and revenue loses are expected to reach $6 billion. And this figure is likely to be revised downwards in the next forecast to be released later this month. “But the impact is much broader. The consequences of the breakdown in connectivity are severe,” he surmised.

According to de Juniac, five million African livelihoods are at risk while aviation-supported GDP could fall by as much as $37 billion. That’s a 58% fall.

“We have a health crisis. And it is evolving into a jobs and economic disaster. Fixing it is beyond the scope of what the industry can do by itself.”

He said they need governments to act, “And act fast to prevent a calamity.”

“We are in the middle of the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced. As leaders of Africa’s aviation industry, you know that firsthand. Airline revenues have collapsed. Fleets are grounded. And you are taking extreme actions just to survive. We all support efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our duty and we will prevail. But policymakers must know that this has come at a great cost to jobs, individual freedoms and entire economies,” he said.

de Juniac used the AFRA general assembly platform to amplify IATA’s call for governments to address two top priorities: “The first is unblocking committed financial relief. Airlines will go bust without it. Already four African carriers have ceased operations and two are in administration. Without financial relief, many others will follow.”

Over US$31 billion in financial support has been pledged by African governments, international finance bodies and other institutions, including the African Development Bank, the African Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Unfortunately de Juniac pointed out, in his words, “Pledges do not pay the bills. And little of this funding has materialized. And let me emphasize that, while we are calling for relief for aviation, this is an investment in the future of the continent. It will need financially viable airlines to support the economic recovery from COVID-19.”

The second priority, according to IATA is to safely re-open borders using testing and without quarantines.

“People have not lost their desire to travel. Border closures and travel restrictions make it effectively impossible. Forty-four countries in Africa have opened their borders to regional and international air travel. In 20 of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Who would travel under such conditions?” de Juniac quizzed rhetorically.

He suggested that countries should adopt systematic testing before departure provides a safe alternative to quarantine and a solution to stop the economic and social devastation being caused by COVID-19.

He admitted that it’s a frightening time for everyone, not least the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on a functioning airline industry. Right now, de Juniac said there essentially is no airline industry. He cited the example that China’s largest airlines sound optimistic, but in a vague way. “They gave no hard data about current yields, loads, or forward bookings, discussing only developments in 2019. Boy, does that seem like ages ago.”

Aviation’s darkest days

The IATA CEO said these are the darkest days in aviation’s history. “But as leaders of this great industry I know that you will share with me continued confidence in the future.

Our customers want to fly. They desire the exploration that aviation enables. They need to do international business that aviation facilitates. And they long to reunite with family and loved ones.”

He said the industry will, no doubt, be changed by this crisis, but flying will return. “Airlines will be back in the skies. The resilience of our industry has been proven many times. We will rise again,” he said.

de Juniac said Aviation is a business of freedom. “For Africa that is the freedom to develop and thrive. And that is not something people on this continent will forget or lose their desire for.”

 

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Business

Inflation increased to 2.2% in October 2020

22nd November 2020

Headline inflation increased from 1.8 percent in September to 2.2 percent in October 2020, but remained below the lower bound of the Bank’s medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent, and lower than the 2.4 percent in October 2019.

According to Statistics Botswana, the increase in inflation between September and October 2020 mainly reflects the upward adjustment in domestic fuel prices {Transport (from -3.9 to -2.5 percent)}, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.29 percentage points.

“There was also a rise in the annual price increase for most categories of goods and services: Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (from 6.2 to 6.6 percent); Clothing and Footwear (from 2.5 to 2.7 percent); Communications (from 0.6 to 0.9 percent); Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels (from 6.4 to 6.6 percent); Recreation and Culture (from 0 to 0.2 percent); Miscellaneous Goods and Services (from 0.7 to 0.9 percent); Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (from 4.2 to 4.3 percent); and Furnishing, Household Equipment and Routine Maintenance (from 2 to 2.1 percent). Inflation remained stable for: Education (4.7 percent); Restaurants and Hotels (3 percent); and Health (1.5 percent). Similarly, the 16 percent trimmed mean inflation and inflation excluding administered prices rose from 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent to 2.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, in the same period.”

[Source: Bank of Botswana]

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BDC injects further P64 million into Kromberg & Schubert

22nd November 2020
BDC

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has to date pumped a total of P100 million into the expansion of Kromberg and Schubert, a car harnessing manufacturing company, operating from Gaborone Old Naledi.

At the official ground breaking ceremony of the company‘s new warehouse today, BDC Managing Director, Cross Kgosidiile revealed the wholly state owned investment corporation has pumped P64 million into the expansion which entailed building of the new warehouse.

Kgosidiile explained that this follows another expansion project which was successfully launched in 2017, in which BDC invested P36 million, bringing the total investment into Kromberg at P100 million. The MD also acknowledged Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) as a partner in the project and for having facilitated the acquisition of the land.

 

Giving a keynote address, Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry, Peggy Serame highlighted the importance of infrastructural development in growing the local manufacturing sector and transforming the economy of Botswana.

Serame underscored the value of strategic partnerships between Government and the private sector, noting that when the two work together and pull together in one direction results will be evident and jobs will be created.

“With the prevailing conditions of depressed economy occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, government is reliant on entities like BDC to bring in revenue and acceleration of private sector development in line with its mandate and strategic plan. This plan is supported by the need to invest in growth sectors and accelerate the implementation of the Economic Diversification Drive,” Serame said.

Minister Serame noted that the partnership between BDC and Kromberg & Schubert begun in 2017 when the P36 million, 4100 square metres factory expansion for the company was launched.

 

She said the launch of the 7320 square meters factory expansion, to be built at the tune of P64 million signals the continuation of the good partnership between the two companies.

 

“I must commend BDC for their continuous efforts to build partnerships with the private sector geared towards contributing to economic development of this country.”

 

Minister Serame also added that BITC through its robust investor aftercare programme continues to provide value added and red carpet to Kromberg and Schubert under their One Stop Service Centre.

 

“In this regard BITC facilitated acquisition of land to enable this expansion. I therefore would like to commend BITC for their timely facilitation to make this expansion possible,” the minister said.

 

Kromberg & Schubert was incorporated in Botswana in 2009; The Company has grown to asset its position as a significant player in the regional automotive industry value chain.

 

The company is also a critical player in the economic development of Botswana, it currently employs 2100 Batswana across its operations. Kromberg exports on average P2.0 billion worth of goods annually, contributing significantly to foreign exchange.

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