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Water shortages hit BMC operations

Beef Measles incidence likely to increase  

Botswana Meat Commission is feeling the pressure of the water shortage situation. This was revealed by BMC spokesperson Brian Dioka, responding to an enquiry by BusinessPost.

The water shortage crisis was further exacerbated a shutdown of North South Carrier (NSC I) were interrupted from Friday last week, to September, for repairs, when a leak was discovered along the pipeline in the Bonwapitse area. The water which is pumped from the north of the country, feeds the greater Gaborone area, which goes all the way to Goodhope. Water supply recovery will start from the 7th of September 2015 and may take up to two weeks for some areas.

In an emailed response to this publication, Dioka said that: “BMC like any other business is affected by the prevailing shortage of water, given that it is one of the main users, in Lobatse, of piped-water sourced from WUC. BMC uses about 4 cubic metres of water per animal -4000 litres per animal – that adds to about 2 million litres per day, but the rationing has halved total supply of water to the Lobatse abattoir, reducing even the number of animals which can be slaughtered.”

“The Commission, in Lobatse slaughters about 600 to 650 cattle a day, and the entire production line requires clean/safe water through-out. In instances where there is no water/electricity/plant malfunction – the entire operations are shut-down to avoid exposing our product or even being downgraded by the competent authority, and this potentially equals opportunity losses of over a P 1 million daily on production (given that it disrupts the slaughter schedule, causing delays and increased expenditure of cattle feed – for those awaiting slaughter).”

“The other direct effect of water shortage is that it will potentially increase the prevalence of beef-measles (which currently seat at an alarming 13-15 percent nationally). With water being scarce, the veldt could easily get exposed to human-waste, our fear is to realise an even worse measles prevalence rate at the end of it all. National measles rate is 10 percent (which is still high compared to all neighbouring countries whose rates are less than 5 percent) the irony is that we are a chief-supplier to lucrative markets, which could one day be irked by the Botswana measles rate and even stop importing Botswana beef.” In 2013, BMC losses of up to P73 million caused by measles infested cattle.

“BMC for 2015 intends to slaughter over 188 000 cattle to reach desired sales. As at end of August 2015, we had achieved slightly above 100 000 cattle, and are now forced to re-double our efforts in the remaining 4 months to achieve the intended figure – since we slaughter about 13000 in a month-provided there is sustained supply of clean, safe water and other critical utilities. This will obviously mean that workers will have to be engaged on overtime, and this has a cost bearing on BMC Lobatse plant which employs about 950 employees who work on a 5 day roster,” he stated.

However, Dioka said that the water situation does not put BMC in danger of losing its licenses to supply the high end European beef buyer market.

“The prevailing calamity (negated by reduced supply of water) however, does not pose any threats on supply/market licenses such as the EU or any other; the challenge it poses rather, is whether BMC would be able to supply the required orders to its customers on time; But we have since been proactive by signalling to our customers that their orders might be supplied late.”

Dioka said that the Commission has taken a decision to reduce dependence on WUC supply by constructing a water treatment plant to clean water siphoned off boreholes that the Commission owns.

“BMC leadership has swiftly moved to tap on its own resources, as a matter of priority. BMC Lobatse Plant currently has two boreholes with a combined yield of 50 cubic kilolitres per an hour of untreated ground-water. The commission has since approved the construction of a quality treatment plant, which will make the referred potable for usage. This will ease-off dependence of WUC, and also cut our water expenditure by over half a million pula on monthly charges/costs.

Envisaged construction of the treatment plant will cost BMC P3 million and take just about 8 weeks to complete, given that some parts have to be customized for the project.”

Dioka said that BMC however notes great relations with WUC (Water Utilities Corporation) which has been in existence over past decades, noting that “even at this stressing period of water shortage, the two stakeholders continuously apprise each other on the prevailing circumstances and mulling-over corrective plans and measures as a way forward.”

“BMC also applauds government for its continued efforts to restore normal water supply, and this should be a call to everybody for better usage of this resource.”

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New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022

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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BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022

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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Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022

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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