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Stanbic Bank holds dialogue on the 2020 global economic outlook

The Inaugural Corporate and Investment Banking Connect stakeholder engagement looks to convene key minds, both local and international, to discuss insights on the 2020 global, regional and local economic outlook.

Hosted by Stanbic Bank Botswana as its continued effort to create and nurture platforms that bring key stakeholders together, the platform will discuss issues and opportunities in the financial services sector, and particularly with a view towards promotion of private sector growth and transformation. Stanbic Bank Head of Corporate and Investment Banking Division Sheperd Aisam noted that the bank believes in power of shared minds and dialogue working to unpack key issues and opportunities that allow and empower them to move the country forward in mutually beneficial and sustainable means.

‘’We are privileged to play a role in our sector- indeed in Corporate and Investment Banking- and our economy, and the onus upon us to keep making progress real across all areas of our discipline, is key. The inaugural CIB Connect is yet another effort towards that broader goal.’’ He further underlined that hosting industry such as Goolam Ballim will enable them as a bank to leverage on his experience, expertise and insight, saying the CIB Connect looks to cut across the board and deepen the well of thinking they have to truly usher them into the next era of corporate and investment banking, and wider financial services culture.

Goolam Ballim, who is a keynote speaker for the engagement will set the tone for the event, before inviting some of Botswana’s very own best minds and experts to take the floor. This includes a panel discussion on the question ‘’How does Botswana create a more inclusive and transformative knowledge based economy?’’ This is in line with government’s focus on transformation of the National economy and moving from a resource-based to knowledge-based economy.

Meanwhile, according to International Monetary Outlook, global growth is projected to rise from an estimated 2.9 per cent in 2019 to 3.3 per cent in 2020. In 2021, growth will be at 3.4 per cent- a downward revision of 0.1 percentage point for 2019 and 2020 and 0.2 for 2021 compared to those in the October World Economic Outlook. The downward revision primarily reflects negative surprises to economic activity in a few emerging market economies, notably India, which led to a reassessment of growth prospects over the next two years. In a few cases, this reassessment also reflects the impact of increased social unrest.

On the positive side, market sentiment has been boosted by tentative signs that manufacturing activity and global trade are bottoming out, a broad-based shift toward accommodative monetary policy, intermittent favourable new son US-China trade negotiations, and diminished fears of a no-deal Brexit, leading to some retreat from the risk-off environment that had set in at time of the October World Economic Outlook. However, few sings of turning points are yet visible in global macroeconomic data.

IMF underlined that stronger multilateral cooperation’s and a more balanced policy mix at the national level, considering available monetary and fiscal space, are essential for strengthening economic activity and forestalling downside risks. The group also shared that building financial resilience, strengthening growth potential, and enhancing inclusiveness remain overarching goals.

Financial experts revealed this early this month that the outbreak of Corona virus is the most disruptive thing to hit markets in many years. However, economists have repeatedly lowered their estimates for global growth in the wage of the outbreak. China faces the biggest fallout as a rapid halt in demand and factory activity cuts into its already slowing gross domestic product growth.

Some analysts expect economies to post a healthy bounce-back once the disease is contained, but others anticipate markets will post a major correction as the virus racks global industries. An analyst at investment platform eToro said the latest virus developments should curb investors from continuing their unconcerned behaviour. ‘’Investors are now waking up to the fact that the coronavirus could become a global pandemic.

The ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach is now clearly no longer an option,’’ he wrote in a note. ‘’Coronavirus on its own won’t suddenly precipitate a big decoupling between China and the West, but the virus adds to a list of other reasons why a process of de-globalisation lies ahead,’’ said Vicky Redwood, senior economic advisor at Capital Economics.

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Gov’t urged to stimulate economies until 2021

29th September 2020
Gov’t-urged-to-stimulate-economies-until-2021-Women-are-amongst-the-most-vulnerable-and-hard-hit-groups,-including-migrants,-young-people-and-informal-workers

The latest edition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor shows the continuing and devastating impacts of the pandemic on jobs and labour income since early 2020, and the massive disruptions in the labour market that will persist into the fourth quarter of this year.

ILO analysts argue that policymakers will need to maintain support to employment and incomes over the coming months and well into 2021, and to address key challenges.

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Debswana seeks to revive Palapye Glass Plant

29th September 2020
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Botswana’s flagship mining company, Debswana is currently engaging various stakeholders with a view to put the currently abandoned Palapye Glass project plant into good use. 

The glass manufacturing plant was left as a white elephant, midway into construction, following the liquidation of its holding company Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana.

Last week, when responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana,  on the status of Palapye Glass Project, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Molebatsi Molebatsi told Parliament that Debswana is one of the companies interested in utilizing the project facility to establish a glass manufacturing factory.

Responding to a questionnaire from Weekendpost regarding the matter on Thursday, Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager Agatha Sejoe said, Debswana is currently assisting Somarelang Tikologo, an environmental watch NGO to develop a business case to set up a glass manufacturing plant in Botswana.

Debswana has in the past funded Somarelang Tikologo to run a glass crushing business, the two organizations are now contemplating ways of expanding the business from just crushing glasses to completing the whole recycling process by setting up  the re-manufacturing component locally.

Currently the crushed glass produced by Somarelang Tikologo is exported  in its entirety to  glass manufacturing plants in South Africa.

“Debswana believes that rather than to continue to export crushed glass to South Africa, there is an opportunity to establish a glass crushing and manufacturing plant in Botswana and create jobs and secondary businesses in Botswana” Sejoe said .

She explained that Debswana, in partnership with Somarelang Tikologo and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), have made a preliminary enquiry on the availability of the glass plant from Botswana Development Corporation.

 

“Discussions are still at conceptual stage and currently ongoing with all the relevant stakeholders. Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, Debswana and Somarelang Tikologo will only then establish the appropriate way forward on the matter,” added Sejoe.

Quizzed on Debswana‘s future investment plans, the company’s Lead media liaison  revealed that the mining giant continues to play a major role in various partnerships within communities in Botswana as part of its Social Performance Framework and in accordance with the Life of Mine planning.

She said currently the company is undertaking stakeholder consultations in communities within the Zone of Influence to identify sustainable partnership opportunities that can leverage on large-scale projects such as the game park assets and form an economic diversification stream through tourism.

“There are other projects in the pipeline, which fall within the ambit of community development, and these will be revealed as we implement them through the usual channels,” said Sejoe.

The Palapye glass plant currently lies unutilized and incomplete in Palapye. The glass project was conceptualized in 2007, wholly Government owned  investment arm Botswana Development Corporation( BDC) and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company , a Chinese corporation entered into an agreement and formed Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana at 43 % -57 % Shareholding whith Shanghai Fengyue holding majority shares.

Botswana Development Corporation invested a total of P511 million for its 43 % interest and a loan to the established company. Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company on the other hand invested P113 million.

After failure to fully operationalize, Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana was liquidated. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) remained with ownership of the erected plant and warehouse.

Last week Investment, Trade & Industry Junior Minister told Members of Parliament that Government through its wholly owned investment arm, BDC is in the process of breathing life to the project by opening up discussions with interested parties.

“There are companies and different parties such as Botswana Railways who showed interest on the facility for either manufacturing some components of their coaches or refurbishment or servicing of their coaches,” Molebatsi said.

He further noted that Government was coming from the fact that Botswana currently produces abundant resources and raw materials that can be used to manufacture glasses, creating much needed economic diversification and jobs for the youth.

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4IR and the agriculture sector

29th September 2020

Research from Agrilinks shows that more than 60 percent of Africa’s working population is engaged in agriculture which accounts for a third of the continent’s GDP. However, the sector is plagued by the use of outdated methods and tools, hence the need for rapid modernization.

The lack of modernized and up to date methods of farming have been a set back to the local farming sector which has attributed to the decline in production. Access to markets, new trends, better tools can be resolved through digitization and high speed information. The recent introduction of the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has seen local farmers taking advantage of the development to enhance their operations.

There are signs that, the expansion of high-speed Internet coverage into settlements and rural areas has boosted the production of farming locally. Farmers use the internet to access market information, crop production farming implements and vital details that influence farming decisions.

The VSAT technology enables countrywide coverage even in the most remote parts of the country, giving farmers internet connectivity through its vast telecommunications network. Results have already started showing especially in the Kaka region which boasts of cattle ranches.  Farmers can now also access the BAITS System and Herd Cards, easily. Furthermore, computerized movement permits and new Change of Ownership documents can be printed on the spot.

The BAITS system provides a platform for farmers to provide information on their livestock.

This platform is offered online, it is used for animal registration, transfer of ownership, arrival of livestock, veterinary drug treatments and removal of dead/fallen stock.

Prior to its introduction, farmers had expressed interest in using internet and digital technology to enhance farming operations but lack of internet held them back. Five years ago a website developed for livestock farmers failed to gain traction due to poor access for those in remote areas.

“Communication has been bad in this part of the country, which led me to installing a satellite phone which is very expensive to maintain. I settled for this alternative because I am required to be in communication with the commercial world as well as my farm workers. But, since the introduction of the BTC VSAT technology, farm business operations and communication with stakeholders has since improved significantly,” said Gokatweng Coach Tshekiso, a cattle ranch farmer based in Kaka.

Through the contribution of this technologies that falls under the auspices of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) it’s a matter of time Drone technology which supports numerous major applications for agriculture gets to be fully utilized by local farmers. The Drone Technology increases efficiency in certain aspects of farming. From crop monitoring to planting, livestock management, crop spraying and irrigation mapping. The VSAT and such technology will definitely work smoothly even in the most remote parts of the country.

Farmers are hopeful that with access to BAITS, they will see reduced likelihood of cattle theft because of secure identification of stolen cattle due to easy identification of stray (Matimela) cattle. In essence, there will be increased security for the Beef Export Market because customers overseas will be assured of origination and traceability of cattle therefore providing a marketing edge for Botswana beef. The network uptime on this technology is approximately 99.5%, exceeding typical terrestrial cable lines. The VSAT is designed mainly for any customer who is remote from the main grids and base stations to access voice and data services.

These technologies have the potential to have a positive impact on the productivity and profitability of the agricultural sector especially during this COVID- 19 period which has greatly disrupted the global supply chain. Through the help of 41R in agriculture, Botswana has potential to be a self- sustainable farming country.

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