Just before COVID-19 intensified around February this year, a development that put the tourism industry into a standstill, Chobe Holdings, a Botswana Stock Exchange listed tourism & hospitality entity, was counting its blessings delivered during the larger part of 2019 and readying for a promising 2020.
Transactions in US dollar terms did the trick for one of the oldest companies on the BSE bourse. The company, which operates lucrative hotels, safari and camping sites along the mighty Chobe River realized a 10% increase in revenue for its financial year ended 29 February 2020. This, according to Chobe’ s condensed audited financials for the period, is attributable by in large to better achieved bed night rates in US Dollar terms and depreciation of the Pula against the US Dollar. Overall, foreign exchange gains delivered solid operating income.
During the year Chobe registered a slight increase in operating cost at 3%, compared to a larger hike in the prior year, something which company Directors attribute to fruitful cost containment strategies delivered by management. During the period, occupancy remained fairly flat when compared to the same period in the prior year ended February2019 – this was due to increased competition.
Chobe Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, J M Gibson suggests that the other contributing factor to flat occupancy output was negative press around the lifting of the hunting suspension. However on a positive note, cost were contained at inflationary levels, resulting in solid operating profits and offsetting flat occupancy output to deliver impressive Profit after tax, up 19 % when gauged against the prior year ended February 2019.
During the financial year under review Chobe spent P45.9 million, from internally generated cash flows on the purchase of game drive vehicles, a Cessna Caravan as well as significantly improving existing buildings and equipment. As previously reported, the Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Ker & Downey (Botswana) Proprietary Limited, acquired the entire issued stated capital of Nelie Investments Proprietary Limited, a property owning company holding leases for two game farms in the Hainaveld area for a cash consideration of P15.4 million financed using the Group’s internal cash resources.
Company executives say the two properties will be utilized to increase the extent of the land holdings currently held by the Dinaka Conservancy. Desert & Delta Safaris Proprietary Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired the entire shareholding and loans in Quadrum Proprietary Limited and Sedia Hotel Proprietary Limited with effect from 1st August 2019 for a total consideration of P30 million. The entities own the land lease and operate Sedia Riverside Hotel, a 31-room hotel in Maun.
Furthermore P25m, financed from internally generated cash resources, was paid on the effective date with the balance payable on the anniversary of the effective date for the following five years in equal installments of P1m each or the fulfillment of certain conditions.
During the financial year ended 29 February 2019 Chobe adopted IFRS16 Leases for the first time in compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards. This has resulted in significant increases in Depreciation, Finance cost, and recognition of Right of Use Assets and Lease Liability due to all of the Group’s camps and lodges being on leased lands. The adoption of this standard has also resulted in Deferred Lease Obligation being reduced to zero.
A total of P1.8 million was disbursed to employees during the year ended 29th February 2020 as part o the phantom share scheme approved during the year ended 28th February 2013 which allows the Group’s employees to participate in the dividend distributions of the Group. The scheme allows all qualifying staff to share equally in a bonus which is calculated to be equal to the value of dividends attaching to three million shares in the Company.
Regarding the ongoing crisis of COVID-19, the pandemic has caused a 22% fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020 with experts saying this could lead to an annual decline of between 60% and 80% when compared with 2019 figures. It is anticipated that signs of recovery will start emerging in the last quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021 with leisure tourism expected to recover quickly. The recovery is however dependent on containment of the virus, easing of travel restrictions and reopening of borders.
Chobe Holdings Limited says on their part the marketing push of “don’t cancel, defer” has been largely successful with more than 70% of the confirmed bookings that were scheduled to travel in the period April – June 2020 deferring their travel to 2021. “We are therefore confident of a fairly quick recovery when it is deemed safe for international travel to resume,” said the Chobe CEO.
J M Gibson said during the last couple of years the company has spent considerable cash resources to upgrade its aircraft, motor vehicles, boats, other equipment, buildings and other operating assets. “All our assets are secure and require minimal expense to keep them ready to perform, policies and procedures are in place to ensure there is no adverse deterioration of assets during the lockdown,” he said.
Joint venture between De Beers and Government of Republic of Namibia announces new plan, supporting economic, commercial, employment and community benefit, following receipt of royalty relief Namdeb Diamond Corporation (Proprietary) Limited (‘Namdeb’), a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia, today announced the approval of a new long-term business plan that will extend the current life of mine for Namibia’s land-based operations as far as 2042.
Under the previous business plan, the land-based Namdeb operations would have come to the end of their life at the end of 2022 due to unsustainable economics. However, a series of positive engagements between the Namdeb management team and the Government of the Republic of Namibia has enabled the creation of a mutually beneficial new business plan that extends the life of mine by up to 20 years, delivering positive outcomes for the Namibian economy, the Namdeb business, employees, community partners and the wider diamond industry.
As part of the plan, the Government of the Republic of Namibia has offered Namdeb royalty relief from 2021 to 2025, with the royalty rate during this period reducing from 10% to 5%. This royalty relief has in turn underpinned an economically sustainable future for Namdeb via a life of mine extension that, through the additional taxes, dividends and royalties from the extended life of mine, is forecast to generate an additional fiscal contribution for Namibia of approximately N$40 billion. Meanwhile, the life of mine extension will also deliver ongoing employment for Namdeb’s existing employees, the creation of 600 additional jobs, ongoing benefits for community partners and approximately eight million carats of additional high value production.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Namdeb, a shining example of partnership, has a proud and unique place in Namibia’s economic history. This new business plan, forged by Namdeb management and enabled by the willingness of Government to find a solution in the best interest of Namibia, means that Namdeb’s future is now secure and the company is positioned to continue making a significant contribution to the Namibian economy, the socio-economic development of the Oranjemund community and the lives of Namdeb employees.” Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy for the Government of the Republic of Namibia, said: “Mining remains the backbone of our economy and is one of the largest employment sectors within our country.
Government understood the fundamental impact of what the Namdeb mine closure at the end of 2022 would have had on Namibia. Therefore, it was imperative to safeguard this operation for the benefit of sustaining the life of mine for both the national economy as well as preserving employment for our people and the livelihoods of families that depend on it.”
Riaan Burger, CEO, Namdeb Diamond Corporation, said: “After more than a century of production, these operations were approaching the end of their life, but the creation of this new business plan means we can continue to deliver for Namibia for many years into the future. This is great news for the hardworking women and men of Namdeb, as well as for all our community partners who we are proud to have worked with over the years. We now look forward to starting a new chapter in Namdeb’s proud history.”
Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.
The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.
Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.
According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.
Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.
A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.
For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.
Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.
These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.
Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.
Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.
The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.
Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.
South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.
In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.
The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.
South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.
Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.
Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).
During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.
Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.
During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).
Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.