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New mall brave attempt to breathe life into Lobatse

Once one of the most prominent and respectable metropolitan towns in the colonial era, with architectural designs to ravel visitors, Lobatse was the hub of growth and development. Colonizers invested in it, built it and became a vocal point of trade.  

Such was the case of Lobatse; a legendary 123 year old town which was nearly made this country’s capital city, failed to hang onto the economic value of the 66 year old beef abattoir that was built by Botswana’s colonial master, subsequently becoming a ghost town. One of the reasons why Lobatse died is because the beef abattoir, now known as Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), is not doing well financially and its workers left the town more than a decade ago leaving the economic status of the town moribund.

But someone has hope that the town of Lobatse will somehow revive and become what the colonialists had in mind more than a century ago. A daring and brave property investment company; Prime Time is building a P116 million mall in Lobatse at Lot 14076, situated at the town’s main bus terminal.  The shopping mall is to be known as Lobatse Junction mall.

According to Botswana Stock Exchange listed Prime Time, it has found a niche in a town which has never seen new shopping centre buildings for 15 years. Lobatse holds a small population of close to 30 000, but Prime Time is hopeful that, “a steady stream of traffic passing through it as a border town (border to economic giant and biggest trading partner to Botswana, South Africa) and its position on the A1 as strategic.

“Current retail provision is concentrated in a few small malls, stand-alone units and traditional high street retail. Existing offerings are therefore generally dated with tenants holding onto premises due to a lack of other options in the market. New entrants to the Lobatse market are also frustrated by a lack of available premises,” said Prime Time justifying the idea of a mall in Lobatse and why it should be in high demand.

But this was not the first time the company invested in Lobatse and its first investment never lived up to expectations as it seemed to be swallowed or overshadowed by the ghost town. According to Prime Time, the Hillside Mall property is currently subject to a shortening ground lease and will diminish in value as the lease runs down. However, according to Prime Time, Lobatse Junction mall acquisition will protect the company’s position as a major player in the retail market in Lobatse.

According to independent valuer Benedict Kgosilentswe who valued the mall property on 13 September 2019, the 4.4204 Ha land is going to be developed with a shopping complex measuring approximately 8,805 m2. Prime Time said the property measures 4.42 hectares and is held on a 30-year lease from Lobatse Town Council with an option to renew for a period of a further 30 years. According to Kgosilentswe, the land use specifies “Mixed Use (Commercial and Civic and Community)”.

“Spar will be the anchor tenant to occupy about 1,900m2, the promoter/developer will also sign up a mixture of National and South African National stores. At the time of our survey, construction of the mall had not yet commenced,” said Kgosilentswe, a Chartered Surveyor with more than 20 years’ experience undertaking valuations of fixed property assets, commercial property valuation, agency and consultancy.

Tenants expected to join major tenant Spar are; Botswana Life, BBS, Ackermans, PEP, Jet, Clicks and Bradlows. “The proposed shopping complex will comprise a parade of 30 retail units, 10 kiosks, 15 small informal traders’ kiosks, 20 larger informal traders’ kiosks and two ATM kiosks to have 263 surface car parking bays, 14 bicycle parking bays,” said Kgosilentswe.

“I have inspected signed leases and expressions of interest and can confirm tenant demand for leasing space at the property has been exceptionally strong. The majority of interest from tenants is from regional and national players which will provide a secure income stream,” said Kgosilentswe. Kgosilentswe said Lobatse lacks high quality retail provision which will be addressed by Lobatse Junction. He said the mall is excellently located and will benefit from the busy traffic created by the bus and railway stations.

The valuer of Lobatse Junction mall also said Time Projects is providing Prime Time with a rental guarantee of 8 percent which will protect the company’s return on investment during the centre’s first year of operation, which can often be turbulent as tenants bed down.
Prime Time Linked Unitholders, who holds more than 5 percent of the issued Linked Units are Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) with 77,621,910 units which is 31.72 percent, Linwood Services with 16. 36 percent, Tati Company with 22, 873, 86 which is 9.35 percent and Debswana Pension Fund with 7.99 percent.

Primetime Unitholders to be paid 8.32 thebe on March

For the year ended 31 August 2019 Primetime had final interest distribution comprising of interest of 2.00 thebe per linked unit and it has been declared payable. The 2.00 thebe declared last year will be added into an interim interest distribution comprising interest of 6.32 thebe per linked unit in respect of the year ended 31 August 2020 (covering the 4-month period to 31 December 2019) which has been declared payable. Next month on the 23th unitholders will be paid a total of 8.32 thebe per linked unit (gross).

Linked unitholders or investors have been told that the company has started road shows to institutional investors regarding a fund raising through a rights issue and issuance of further debt instruments under the Company’s existing domestic medium term bond programme. According to Primetime’s latest cautionary announcement, the company is raising funds “to support its continuing growth strategy.”

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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