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Banking industry well capitalized to support economy – Pheko-Moshagane

Chairperson of Botswana Banking Association, Keabetswe Pheko –Moshagane, who is also Managing Director of Absa Bank Botswana has assured the country that Botswana’s banking industry is solid, well capitalized and ready to support the economy during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moshagane was speaking at a Press briefing addressed by commercial banks this weekend to deliberate on the industry’s response strategies to COIVID-19. She said COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy is severe and clearly the world has not experienced this before.

She however noted that it is not easy to make timeline predictions as it is not known how long the pandemic and adverse situation would last. “This is still a new wave and turn of events as far as impact on the economy is concerned, the situation is still at its infant state,” she said.

The Banking Association chairperson however cautioned that if the pandemic and its adverse impacts intensify and spillover to the rest of 2020 and beyond, the banking industry would be affected just like any other sector of the economy.

Pheko-Moshagane reiterated that as of the moment and at least till the end of the year the banking industry’s liquidity stance is well positioned to anchor the economy. She highlighted that commercial banks play a critical role in the economy of any developing country and therefore it is important for the industry to formulate a framework best suited to support the nation accordingly.

In general, as a way of cushioning their customers during COVID-19 crisis, the banking industry will offer three months repayment holidays to customers with mortgage, car and other loans. Moshagane explained that the loan repayment break would be reviewed after three months depending on the situation relating to the pandemic.

As of 2011 Botswana’s Financial System sat at an excess of nearly P300 billion, inclusive of the foreign reserves and funds held by Botswana Development Corporation and Motor Vehicle Accident Fund. Currently Botswana’s 10 commercial banks account for about 33 percent of the financial system, hosting in access of P100 billion in assets.

According to information from Bank of Botswana which is the industry’s regulatory and oversight body, commercial banks have been able to roar to profitability  year on year despite sluggish economy and unfavorable circumstances in the market.

In terms of banks’ Net Income/Profitability over the last 8 years, data from Bank of Botswana shows that the industry profitability picked up from P1.57 billion in 2011 to an average of P1.7 billion in 2013 before dropping to P1.4 billion in 2014 after Bank of Botswana banned increase of fees. In 2015 following reduction in interest banks income significantly declined to end the year at P 1 billion. Profitability picked up to 2 billion in 2018.

Loans and Advances account for roughly 60% of these Assets while deposits account for over 70% of liabilities. The banks ended 2019 with about P75.7 billion of deposits, and in the first month of 2020 this figure now stands at P76 billion, mirroring 0.4% increase.

Total credit given out by commercial banks stood at P62.8 billion in 2019 and by the end of January 2020 it was P63.5 billion, up by 1.1%, signaling that in January only, banks wrote out roughly P729 million in new loans, with P403 million going towards businesses and P347 million channeled to households

No new banks have entered the sector since 2012, and commentators have indicated that outdated regulation and the dominance of foreign-owned commercial banks are factors that potentially keep new entrants out.

The microlending sector, on the other hand, is growing and has the potential to increase financial inclusion. Large commercial banks continue to introduce more technologies and are moving towards branchless banking. Latest available industry statistics reflect a stable, adequately-capitalised banking sector which experienced growing customer deposits and improved profitability.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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