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Jobs Stats hoist red flags

This week President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi admitted to job creation being one of his “greatest” struggle, saying the economy is failing to yield jobs as yet. The President further, through the local media midweek, addressed Batswana’s impatience on lack of jobs saying but the economy would not work that way.

Masisi who has been dubbed the “Jobs President” when taking over presidency in 2018 is already feeling the heat from his critics who are accusing him of being Janus-faced when addressing the unemployment issue. Masisi’s critics were up in arms after the president recently sounded to divert that which he made his top priority even when he took leadership of the ruling party in 2016, job creation.

Last month from the Masisi was accused of trying to divert his promise of creation of jobs to the private sector when coming from his World Economic Forum trip; this topic that even made a big national debate towards and after the Budget Speech of 2020. Leader of the private sector Gobusamang Keebine has said job creation should be led by government with policy and good governance.

"My duty as the president is to create environment for jobs to be created. I cannot open a brick manufacturing factory and employ people but i create conducive space for investors to do so and employ local people instead. I attend world summits to create space for jobs to be created,” this created a big uproar with some seeing the president to be speaking with a forked tongue in his jobs creation mandate.

Even though dishing out old statistics of the 2015/16 unemployment rate, finance minister during the Budget Speech admitted that “the unemployment rate has remained a cause for concern, at annual rate of 17.6 percent of the labour force in 2015/16.”  Opposition legislators after the budget speech were already saying Masisi is failing in job creation while some Mps from the ruling party kept the president’s stance that jobs would come with partnership with the private sector, allowing more capacity for economic activity.

Recent statistics from Statistics Botswana shows that the unemployment rate is increasing, the three months of July to September 2019 shows idleness rate of 20.7 percent for the third quarter of 2019. According to Quarterly Multi Topic Survey Labour Force Module Report- Q3 2019, the unemployed population is 194 990, with 93 190 men unemployed who are less than women who are jobless in Q3 2019 being 101 799. The unemployed population has grown by 32.5 percent in the quarter under review when compared to the preceding quarter in the Statistics Botswana records.

The unemployed population with disability increased by 7.3 percent in Q3 2019 from Q2 2019. Youth unemployment increased by 1.6 percent while youth not in education, not in employment or training rate increased by 4.7 percent. Statistics Botswana recently released its first ever quarterly labour force survey results for the three months of July to September 2019, which show an unemployment rate of 20.7 percent for that quarter.

Talking about the same sQ3 2019 results and bringing them closer to the concern of unemployment rate that seem not to be curbing according to statistics during the recent budget speech, Matsheka said the unemployment rate of 20.7 percent for the quarter cannot be directly compared with the 17.6 percent annual rate for 2015/2016. These results are for one quarter only and are subject to seasonal variations, he explained during the reading of the budget speech.

“….Successful economic diversification requires an economic growth rate that is high enough to generate sufficient jobs to address unemployment, raise household incomes and reduce poverty. This has not yet been achieved and the unemployment rate has remained a cause for concern, at annual rate of 17.6 percent of the labour force in 2015/16, according to data from Statistics Botswana. Therefore, accelerated growth, consistent with Vision 2036, will require a mix of policies that promote export diversification in goods and services to impact unemployment, especially among the youth,” said Matsheka.

 The working poor and disparities

Menial jobs or piece jobs took a larger population of the country’s employment, meaning a lot of Batswana were absorbed to work for ‘small jobs.’ The report says the largest proportion of jobs is found in the elementary occupations with 114,766 persons representing 23.7 percent of the entire labour force. This jobs were followed by occupations in the service/sales workers with 112,707 persons (23.3 percent) while professionals were at 12.7 percent or had 61,652 persons employed.

When the Statistics Botswana revealed the Q3 2019 monthly average cash by occupation it shows that monthly average cash earning by occupation professionals who were not the most employed in the population were the highest earners, recording P12 455 followed by managers and Technicians & Associate Professionals with P11,122 and P10,171.

With complaints still high that Botswana’s minimum wage is low to the benchmark, the rest of the population who are the most employed earn peanuts. Unlike their counterparts at professional level, the mostly employed in the population, elementary workers average earning is the lowest recording at P1 286.

And foreigners showed to be earning more than their Batswana counterparts with average earnings for non-citizens was estimated at P5, 117, P12, 794 and P5, 404 for all employees. The national records reveals that Fourth Quarter FSES monthly average cash earnings for Citizens was 6,206, while for 2019 QMTS was 5,117, for Non-Citizens was 20,374, from QMTS was 12,794, for all Employees was 6,533, while for QMTS was 5,404.

Foreigners got most jobs at the education sector recording 19.6 percent (3,546 persons), followed by Construction and Human Health and Social Work Activities with 17.8 (3,236 persons) and 14.1 percent (2,560 persons) respectively. In a case showing gender disparity, in almost all industries males earns more than females, this is an exception in industries like Real Estate Activities, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, Health, Extraterritorial Organisation where women get better salaries than men.

According to Statistics Botswana, males recorded P6, 729 and for females was P4, 178 in total formal sector employment monthly average cash earnings. In total the third quarter 2019 (July to September 2019) estimated average cash earning from the 2019/20 QMTS Formal Sector Employment with the Fourth quarter 2018 Formal Sector Employment Survey (FSES) shows that there was a decrease in average earnings.

The national statistics has further seen that at industry level, Accommodation and Food Service Industry have employed more females, accounted for 70.5 percent of employees working in the industry, followed by Education with 65.7 percent. However construction and Mining & Quarrying were the two industries which have employed lowest proportion of females recording 11.3 percent and 19.3 percent of female employees.

 
Men mostly get jobs in cities and towns while their female counterparts are seen working at rural areas according to the latest statistics. But in urban areas like Gaborone and Francistown many women recorded a higher percentage in employment than males being at 51.7 percent for females as compared to 48.3 percent for males.

The capital city Gaborone recorded the highest number of people working in Formal Sector, recording 16.5 percent, followed by Kweneng East with 13.8 percent and Central Serowe with 6.2 percent and males were dominating in formal sector employment almost in all the cities according to statistics. Females were many in formal employment were recorded in all the district except Kgatleng, Ngamiland East, Kweneng East, Central Mahalapye and Kgalagadi South.

Education, skills match issue

Statistics Botswana refer to elementary jobs as “mostly unskilled” but this is also the national cry of even formal sector and businesses complaining in a report by the central bank to be receiving unskilled employees. According to Bank of Botswana’s recent Business Expectation Survey, unavailability of skilled labour was cited as the greatest challenge facing businesses in the fourth quarter of 2019, particularly in the manufacturing, trade, hotels, restaurants, transport and communications sectors3 , arising from the reported difficulties experienced in recruiting foreign skilled labour.

But do people go to school, get higher qualification and get easily hired? That is not the case in the national statistics as employers are mostly fishing in the less qualified pound. Higher education holders, higher certificates, diploma and degree holders are suffering to get jobs and it is recorded in the national statistics. Employment by education level shows that people who completed lower education or secondary school contributed 45.5 percent of the overall employment in the population.

Those who are regarded as fairly educated, the ones at university or tertiary level were at a lower percentage of the overall employment at only 15.9 percent. Primary qualifications holders were at 13.2 percent. Also when statistics reveals the issue from a sectorial perspective, the highest percentage (41.7 percent) of people in Formal Sector Employment have secondary school education. The statistics further states that these rates were followed by those with University and Primary school education with 21.5 and 10.6 percent respectively.

According to Statistics Botswana, a small percentage (0.5 percent) of people in Formal Sector Employment have apprenticeship. Statistics Botswana has shown in the same Q3 reports that youth not in education, not in employment or training rate increased by 4.7 percent.

According to Statistics Botswana, Formal Sector Employment by Industry shows that Public Administration had the largest portion of employment at 29.0 percent (140,280 persons), followed by Wholesale, Retail & Repair of Motor Vehicles with 13.5 percent (65,084 persons) and Education with 12.0 percent (58,034 persons) of total employment.

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Business

Sefalana releases best ever HY Financial results

23rd February 2021
Sefalana MD: Chandra Chauhan

Sefalana released their best ever half year financial results. Revenue grew by 2.3% to BWP2.91 billion (HY 2019: BWP2.85 billion). Gross profit increased by 17.4% to BWP215.1 million (HY 2019:

BWP183.3 million) yielding an improved gross profit margin of 7.4% (HY 2019: 6.4%). Administrative expenses went up by 7.8% to BWP97.0 million (HY 2019: BWP90.0 million). EBITA shot up by 31.5% to BWP138.6 million (HY 2019: BWP105.4 million) translating to EBITA margin of 4.8% (HY 2019: 3.7%).

Investment income was BWP22.8 million (HY 2019: BWP28.2 million). Profit before tax increased by 22.8% to BWP148.7 million (HY 2019: BWP121.1 million). Effective tax rate was lower at 23.9% (HY 2019: 28.4%) translating to a 30.7% hike in profit after tax to BWP113.2 million (HY 2019: BWP86.7 million).

Local Trading consumer goods segment was resilient despite a marginal decline in revenue. Revenue declined by 1.6% to BWP1.59 billion (HY 2019: BWP1.62 billion), however a 2.0% decline in cost of goods sold offset decline in revenue to see gross profit increase by 7.6% to BWP75.6 million (HY 2019: BWP70.3 million), an improved gross profit margin of 4.8% (HY 2019: 4.3%) was realized as a result.

Profit for the period was down 2.4% to BWP34.8 million (HY 2019: BWP35.7 million) mainly impacted by restrictions on liquor sales which have been in place for the entire reporting period. At the beginning of the financial year, the group manned 4 Hyper Stores (“Sefalana Hyper”), 25 Cash& Carry stores (“Sefalana Cash& Carry”) and 29 supermarket retail stores (“Sefalana Shopper”).During the period, Sefalana Shopper retail store in Shakawe, Sefalana Liquor outlet in Tlokweng were opened, and Sefalana Shopper Molepolole store was refurbished.

Lesotho has seen its revenue increase by 30.9% to BWP295.7 million (HY 2019: BWP225.8 million). Profit before tax spiked 162.4% to BWP1.9 million (HY 2019: -BWP3.1 million). Namibia has performed well to place it as the largest contributor to profit before tax. The segment’s revenue increased by 5.5% to BWP896.8 million (HY 2019: BWP850.2 million). Gross profit rose by 25.4% to BWP60.9 million (HY 2019: BWP48.6 million) translating to an improved gross profit margin of 6.8% (HY 2019: 5.7%). Profit before tax went up by 40.6% to BWP39.8 million (HY 2019: BWP28.3 million).

The Manufacturing arm had an excellent performance. Revenue rose by 26.7% to BWP125.0 million (HY 2019: BWP98.7 million). Gross profit increased by 39.4% to BWP28.6 million (HY 2019: BWP20.5 million), producing a gross profit margin of 22.9% (HY 2019: 20.8%). Profit before tax shot up by 96.5% to BWP16.0 million (HY 2019: BWP8.1 million). The profitability of this business is largely driven by the timing of orders placed by Government for its various feeding schemes and availability of raw material.

The milling division has for all six months manufactured and supplied in full to the Government, however only one third of the total contract volumes was awarded to the business in respect of the 24 month contract issued in April 2020. Raw materials have been procured and contracts entered into for procurement of grain to fulfill any additional volumes that the Government might require.

Beverages division was awarded a 24 month supply of milk tender to the Government for the children’s feeding scheme in March 2019 which is currently being fulfilled. There has been a shortage in raw materials in the region due to a reduced number of dairy cows during the pandemic as farmers placed more focus on meat production. Despite an underway catch up on reinstating dairy cow population the business expects shortages to continue in early 2021.

The Trading others segment experienced a decline on its top and bottom line figures. Revenue went down by 43.9% to BWP42.2 million (HY 2019: BWP75.2 million). Gross profit went down by 23.9% to BWP11.5 million (HY 2019: BWP15.1 million). Profit before tax went down 56.8% to BWP3.2 million (HY 2019: BWP7.4 million). The segment was impacted by a reduction in sales of motor vehicles as customers prioritized spending on essential goods and services.

The Property segment in Botswana performed well, with all most all properties tenanted for leases ranging between two-six years. Setlhoa site is complete, comprising of Sefalana Shopper store, petrol station and rentals to Ital Tiles and CTM. Just over 5000sqm of land remains vacant. The space initially set out for the group’s Motor Dealership will be considered for other alternative options in a bid to optimize return from the site. In contra, Zambia performed below the previous period as the past two years elapsed in search of replacement tenants for their premises due to an influx of similar properties.

A 3000sqm warehouse space is expected to commence development in February 2021 to house bottled water and fruit juice plants. Milling division anticipates expansion by the end of 2021, the expansion is to include a wheat milling plant which will leverage on existing infrastructure and complement existing milling activities.

A phase 2 investment in Australian business is expected in May 2021. Five more stores will be acquired through this investment to bring the stores to a total of 12 in that market. The investment amount is anticipated to be around P80 million, to be funded through existing cashflows.

The preference share agreement on the South African consortium matures in July 2022. The group’s appetite for conversion of its investment in to a 30% equity stake will be influenced by the covid-19 pandemic impact. As such a decision will be made closer to maturity date.

The group maintains that its 40% interest in Grow Mine Africa (Pty) Limited, the Preferred Bidder in the National Lottery remains in place. According to management, the judgement of urgent application was in favor of Grow Mine and the formal ruling by the courts will be issued next week. Accordingly, further negotiations with the Gambling Authority are expected in quarter one of 2021.

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Business

Botswana Diamonds secures funding for CKGR exploration

23rd February 2021
Sekaka-Diamonds-Exploration

Botswana Diamond PLC, a Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed exploration company has moved a step closer towards developing it’s much talked about gem deposits around the Central Kalahari area in Botswana.

On Tuesday the company notified its shareholders through a circular published on the BSE, that it has entered into a cooperation agreement to fund exploration of its prospecting licence assets in Botswana with Diamexstrat Botswana Pty Ltd (DESB), which in turn has an alliance agreement with Burgundy Diamond Mines Limited, an Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) listed mining company.

BOD’s prospecting assets comprise the recently acquired Sekaka Diamonds Exploration Pty Ltd (Sekaka) database and Prospecting Licenses, as well as the Prospecting Licences held by BOD’s subsidiary, Sunland Minerals Pty Ltd (Sunland Minerals).

According to the statement from Botswana Diamond, Diamexstrat Botswana and its partner, Burgundy would earn up to a 70% interest in BOD’s Botswana Sunland Minerals and Sekaka’s Prospecting Licences.

On the other hand BOD can earn a 15% interest in Prospecting Licences held by Diamexstrat and its partners on the first US$1.5m spent on exploration by Diamexstrat where BOD’s database assists in the discovery of a primary kimberlite.

On 3rd party Prospecting Licences where targets are identified in BOD’s database, a joint earn-in will be negotiated at the time. For new Botswana Prospecting Licences, Diamexstrat, and its partner, Burgundy can earn up to 70%.  Under the Agreement, the parties have agreed to utilize BOD’s diamond exploration database, which it acquired in last year as part of the acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds Exploration Pty Ltd (Sekaka).

The database contains the results of work undertaken by Sekaka’ former owner, Petra Diamonds, since 2005, and includes data in respect of airborne, including the Falcon survey, and ground magnetics (including gravity and EM), in addition to heavy mineral sampling.

DESB has six months to conduct an initial review of BOD’s database , in order to identify exploration targets within any of BOD’s existing Sunland and Sekaka Prospecting Licences (excluding the KX36 Kimberlite held by Sekaka) (the “Designated PL”).

DESB will be entitled to earn a 50% interest in a Designated PL by meeting the annual minimum exploration expenditure commitment on the Designated PL and in addition either discovering a kimberlite through the intersection of kimberlite in any drill holes or a potential secondary diamondiferous alluvial deposit through the intersection of gravels in a drill hole or pit.

DESB shall be entitled to earn an additional 1%, to hold 51% in any Designated PL, by proving the primary kimberlite or alluvial deposit to be diamondiferous through funding the required micro-diamond analysis or bulk sampling.

DESB will also be entitled to earn a further 19%, to hold 70% in the Designated PL, by subsequently funding and delivering a bankable feasibility study. Any Prospecting Licence not selected by DESB at the end of the six-month period will remain wholly-owned by BOD.

Where it is agreed that geological data present in the database that was not previously available to DESB has assisted in the discovery of a kimberlite or a secondary alluvial deposit within the Exploration Area , BOD shall be granted a 15% free carry for the initial approved US$1.5 million of Exploration Expenditure by DESB on the discovery. Once the Exploration Expenditure has been incurred, each party will contribute funding in accordance with its interest or be diluted pro-rata.

Sunland Minerals holds 12 active Prospecting Licences in the Gope/CKGR (Kalahari) area. As at 30 June 2020, the audited carrying value of BOD’s Sunland Minerals assets amounted to £1.1 million and Sunland’s loss before tax amounted to £43,101.

In the year ended 30 June 2020, Sunland’s Exploration Expenditure, mainly comprising licence fees and the costs of maintaining the licence in good standing, together with agreed fixed costs and expenses, amounted to £65,760.

On 30 November 2020, Botswana Diamonds completed the acquisition of Sekaka which holds three Prospecting Licences in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the KX36 kimberlite pipe.

The acquisition also included an extensive database. The consideration comprised a cash payment of US$300,000 and a 5% royalty on future revenues.  The first deferred consideration cash payment of US$150,000 will be payable on 27 November 2021, being the first anniversary of completion of the acquisition and the balance on or before 27 November 2022.

In Sekaka’s audited annual financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2019, Sekaka reported a loss before taxation of Pula 16,875,179 (equivalent to approximately £1.16 million, which included a non-cash foreign exchange loss of Pula 11,688,432 (equivalent to approximately £0.8 million) on the carrying value of the historic intercompany debt which was extinguished on acquisition.

As at 30 June 2019, Sekaka had audited total assets of Pula 6,565,700 (equivalent to approximately £425k). Diamexstrat is a privately owned company focused on diamond exploration in Botswana chaired by Gerard de la Vallee Poussin and with Barry Bayly as the Chief Executive Officer. Both Gerard and Barry have extensive experience in the exploration for diamondiferous kimberlites in Africa.

Commenting on the cooperation between BOD and Diaexstrat , James Campbell, Managing Director, of BOD said the partnership will progress the extensive and highly prospective exploration assets in Botswana which comprises Sekaka Diamonds and with our own drill-ready prospects in Sunland Minerals.

“I look forward to working with the Diamexstrat and Burgundy teams made-up of complimentary highly experienced and leading experts in the field of diamond exploration and project development”.  John Teeling, Chairman of Botswana Diamonds Board of Directors said Botswana is one of the world’s best addresses for diamond exploration. He explained that the combination of a fresh approach and advanced technology, supported by a recovering diamond market, presents both parties with significant opportunities.

“I am delighted to announce this partnership with experienced Diamexstrat, and its ASX listed-partner, Burgundy, which expands and deepens our exploration work.”

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Business

Tlou Energy announces first carbon neutral plant

23rd February 2021
Tlou-Enegery

As countries continue to battle climate change which is a result of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, local coal-bed Methane (CBM) exploration outfit, Tlou Energy this week revealed intent to make the Lesedi Power project the first carbon neutral power project in Botswana.

The multi-listed company, which is focused on generating cleaner power in Botswana for supply into the local and regional power markets said they have already negotiated land access and leasing agreements with relevant land-holders for the power generation facility and new field operations camp.

According to a statement from Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed energy entity, there have been recent steps taken to acquire additional land for carbon sequestration and there is also availability of land and labour within the Lesedi project which favours Tlou Energy in developing carbon neutral power project.

Carbon sequestration involves capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so that it potentially reduces its contribution to global warming.  It is essentially the long-term storage of carbon in soil, plants, and geological formations. Carbon sequestration can occur naturally and as a result of human activities and typically refers to the storage of carbon that has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas.

Tlou Energy Managing Director, Tony Gilby commented: “There is considerable scope for using the savanna ecosystem of the Lesedi region for carbon sequestration by protecting it from burning and intensive grazing leading to an increase in the ability of the vegetation to store carbon over time.” “This will assist Tlou to be able to supply carbon neutral power to the considerable number of potential customers in the region.”

Gilby also revealed that the regional power consumer, Orapa diamond mine operated by Debswana and located north of Tlou’s gas fields has publicly stated their objective to decrease their carbon footprint. According to Tlou Energy MD, the Lesedi project area is considered as shrub savanna containing various tree species. He however noted that subdivisions found within Tlou’s project area are predominantly rural with most of the land being deployed due to livestock agriculture.

“Tlou  is  in  the  process  of  negotiating  the  acquisition  of  land  to  reduce  livestock numbers  and  implement  fire mitigation measures. This will substantially increase the amount of available woody biomass which can be used to claim carbon credits within the project area,” he said.

The company said carbon credits will be offset against the carbon dioxide associated with Lesedi’s gas fired power generation component noting that the gas will in any event produce considerably less carbon dioxide compared to the ones generated by coal and diesel.

“Carbon reduction is part of Tlou’s commitment to the environment and part of the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) program aimed at enhancing the lives of the local population and regional communities,” said Tlou energy MD.

“Tlou has a track record of supporting local charities and youth groups and looking to grow local employment with investment in community ventures. This includes programs aimed at growing higher nutritional value crops for local livestock so grazing could be reduced and biomass preserved, as well as promoting wildlife.”

Meanwhile, last month Botswana Government through Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security (MMGE) underscored its intention to support power generation through Coal-Bed- Methane (CBM). Tlou’s MD Gilby commented, “It is great to see that Botswana is open for business and the Government is motivated to get the gas industry up and running.

Gilby revealed that his company plans to start development of the Lesedi project as soon as possible noting that “confirmation of the Government’s enthusiasm to provide the necessary support to ensure commercial development of CBM is very well received.” “In addition, we have also recommenced negotiations with Botswana based project financiers this month as we aim to close a deal for funding as soon as possible.

After what was an extremely challenging year the Company is already making progress in 2021 and anticipate further advancement on all fronts in the coming term. We look forward to updating the market with further developments in due course,” he concluded.

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