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BSE now feeling COVID-19 fever, could be heading to bears den

The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) beginning of this week has found a decline of three stocks, market experts see this as one of the signs that COVID-19 has now shown symptoms of infection on the local bourse.

There could be an out of sight meaning of why COVID-19 comes to this country in trinity. Just like BSE recording a decline of three stocks due to the coronavirus associated impact on local market, Botswana discovered first three cases of the pandemic, causing the nation to go on standstill.

Market observation suggest that the three stocks which fell in the beginning could be investors response to the State of Emergency which was announced last week to effect on the dead of Thursday night. Just by Friday last week Stockbrokers Botswana produced a gloomy account of the Domestic Company Index (DCI) failing by 0.15 percent with all prices changes for the week being negative.

Experts believe investors kept their money safe in Botswana as the country was still safe for COVID-19 before three first cases were announced and a declaration of State of Emergency or lockdown could have caused foreign investors to sell and run.

The market has its ups and downs-unfortunately we have entered a down cycle, and at the moment we are seeing international investors selling out, said a market research analyst. In its market summary released early in the week Motswedi Securities red flagged that, the COVID-19 pandemic, is making its mark known on the local equity market.

According to the stockbrokers research on Monday the volumes traded in the session amounted to 4.6 million shares, of which changed ownership across 12 stocks, with a total market value of P14.99mn.

According to BSE Market Status for the period 1 January to 31 March 2020, The DCI experienced a slight depreciation of 0.09 percent in the period under review (from January to March) in comparison to a 0.43 percent increase registered in the same period in 2019. Another depreciation was registered on the foreign companies front as FCI recorded a depreciation of 0.71 percent in quarter 1 of 2020 relative to a decrease of 0.26 percent over the same period in 2019.

The falling in numbers in the local bourse can be attributed to investors reaction to last week first cases of coronavirus and the subsequent declaration of State of Emergency.

This is because BSE Market Status report of January to 18 March, before COVID-19 was discovered in the local shores, showed the local managed to be the fourth liquid stock exchange in Africa out of 27 bourses, holding onto its 2020 gains while the pandemic made its presence felt on other indexes who fell on the negative bear status.

The local bourse made headlines as it got up 1.5 percent this week against others. But the latest BSE report in which it exchange was holding a comparative with other indices which it acknowledged were impacted by the volatility stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the local stock exchange showed to also be growing fur and claws like its counterparts.

According to the report, the DCIs US Dollar return over the quarter of 2020 amounted to a negative 11 percent on the back of the Pula depreciation of 12 percent against the dollar. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange ALSI also experienced massive losses with a depreciation of 39.5 percent over the quarter while the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEMDEX) lost 33.3 percent in US Dollar terms.

BSE turning from being stable to gradually growing fur and claws

However Motswedi Securities said the more liquid stocks, that is, those are deemed to be popular, have taken a turn for the bears in the market. If Botswana had not recorded any case of COVID-19, it took a long time to announce first cases, investors could have developed interest in BSE and made it a bull market, according to observations.

The local bourse is said to be illiquid, but was at least stable as its counterparts in African markets plunged in negatives. This week BSE is seen developing more fur and long claws, a metaphor for a stock market taking a turn for the bears in the market, declining or becoming a bear market.

On Monday companies in the DCI who pulled BSE down onto the bear market status are the once best performers like First National Bank Botswana(FNBB) which dropped 5 thebe to close to close at the price of P2.70/share, extending the stock’s yearly loss to -5.3 percent, according to Motswedi.

Another loser was Chobe which lost the largest in value by far in the day, to close at P11.00/share. This 4.3 percent depreciation in the share price of the company was somewhat expected, given that the impact of Covid-19 is really being felt in the tourism and hospitality sector, as local borders have been closed off to international visitors and various lockdowns implemented across the world, said Motswedi Securities.

Another bank which joined FNBB in the line of losers is BancABC which recorded decline in profit in its last week released financial results. According to Motswedi market research, BancABC, fell to its IPO price of P2.00/share, in its first movement of the year and this unfortunately resulted in the stock’s year to date ending the session at -1.0 percent.

An observer said banks including FNBB and BancABC are starting to feel the heat amid COVID-19 because of impairments and loan defaults now weighing heavily on them as lending is their main source of revenue, hence investor scare.

Investors notice

Many fear to buy shares now because the feel like BSE is now on decline like the rest and fear buying a bear market. But some believe buying stock can come with a good gamble and opportunities. One said it should be time to buy stock because it will give an investors the opportunity to negotiate a favourable price for themselves in future. An example would be buying Chobe stock that traded 50 thebe below the opening price on Monday, said one market analyst.

Motswedi Securities chief researcher Garry Juma said: It depends with ones risk appetite and the tenor of investment. If one is in for the long term, this is the time to buy some of those hard stocks to find, like Chobe which are now available and at a lower price.

Business

Banking on Your Terms: Exploring the World of Self-Service Banking

23rd February 2024

In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?

Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.

This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.

Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.

Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.

Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.

At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.

With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.

Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services

 

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Business

Botswana records over P6 billion trade deficit

7th February 2024

Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.

In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.

On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.

The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.

Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.

 

 

 

 

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Business

Business sector optimistic about 2024

7th February 2024

The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.

The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.

Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.

All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.

Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.

During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.

However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.

In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.

On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.

Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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