The mandate of the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) is aligned with key development strategies like Vision 2036, National Development Plan (NDP), Local Economic Development strategy and the Transformation Agenda.
Speaking in an interview this week, Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lonely Mogara said that the Authority was formulated with the national planning framework in mind so as to avoid duplication, ensure integration and facilitate easier implementation.
SEZA is mandated with establishing, developing, managing and regulating a portfolio of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). “When developing SEZs, we also considered the dominant economic activities in the target areas and their comparative advantages like availability of natural resources and infrastructure,” said Mogara.
The end result, he said, was the development of eight SEZs as themed, modern and smart cities modelled around the concept of live, work and play. These eight SEZs are: Lobatse, Gaborone – Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA), Gaborone – Fairgrounds, Palapye, Selebi Phikwe, Tuli Block, Francistown and Pandamatenga.
“Francistown is a mining and logistics SEZ that specializes in freight, distribution of mining supplies, aviation and engineering,” said Mogara.
Tuli Block has been zoned as an Agropolis City that specializes in horticulture production, water management and food processing. Similarly, Pandamatenga will focus on cereal production and agro-processing.
Palapye on the other hand has been designated an oil and gas city specialising in coal beneficiation, oil-to-liquid, coal bed methane gas and renewable energy. Selebi Phikwe is a base metal beneficiation SEZ that also has huge opportunities for agro-processing, iron and steel production, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, garments and textiles industries.
Lobatse is a meat and leather city; while key activities at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) will include diamond beneficiation, manufacturing and logistics. Fairgrounds is a Fintech SEZ that specializes in international finance and technology.
SEZA intends to attract investment to these SEZs by removing barriers to trade and facilitating easier access to land and other services. END
2020 has brought with it many changes to different industries, and all propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent reports show that – banks, like most companies, face an urgent imperative to reimagine themselves, with the pandemic accelerating consumer behaviour shifts and causing significant earnings challenges given, the tough macroeconomic environment and extensive risk of financial distress for both consumers and businesses.
As consumer behaviour continues to shift, this will push banks all over the globe to rapidly develop and implement continuous improvements to their customer value proposition in order to remain as agile as possible.
These improvements include establishing and growing digital banking platforms, constant and relevant engagements with customers and providing the appropriate and personalised offering to corporate and commercial banking clients. And done right, this will ensure customer retention and acquisition of new clients, every bank’s ultimate objective.
Bolstering customer value proposition through digital banking platforms
While branch networks will remain a crucial part of the banking industry’s value-chain, a continuous redefinition of the digital banking journey has now become the driving force in ensuring a customer-centric approach and addressing customers’ current banking needs.
Investing in the bank’s digital capability is imperative, in that it warrants streamlined operational and decision-making processes. Additionally, it ensures that banks enjoy extended industry reach and higher brand authority as well as allowing for better and more frequent B2B partnership opportunities.
Ensuring retention and acquisition of customers
As a new market entrant, acquiring new clients is always the primary goal, however for emerging industry players, success lies in the level of retention rates. As customer needs are constantly evolving, banks not only have to adapt to meet these needs but also navigate uncharted territory due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while also understanding that customers are struggling financially as a result of the current subdued economic environment.
Banks have had to come to the fore and secure customer loyalty by offering financial aid in the form of payment holidays, extending loan tenures as well as providing additional support to SMEs and retail customers in unfavourable economic conditions.
Ensure appropriate conversations with customers
Having conversations that are not only beneficial to the bank but to the customer as well, demonstrates a customer-centric approach that focuses on providing a positive customer experience. Therefore, in order to succeed in a market dominated by ongoing cost pressures, stringent regulatory requirements, and increasing competition between ‘new-born digital’ entrants, like fintech and digital banks, and established market leaders – the only thing that will set you apart and ensure competitor advantage is excellent customer service. A well-executed customer-centric strategy will assist in building trust in the brand and ultimately ensure an overall positive reputation.
Enhancing the corporate and commercial banking offering
Early 2020 reports showed that rising customer expectations, disruptive competitors, new technologies and increased regulation are just a few of the ongoing pressures forcing commercial banks to reimagine and evolve their business and operating models.
Aggressive investments to drive efficiency and enhance the client and employee experience will keep them in the lead. 2020 is seen as the year commercial banks went from digitisation to digital by building on these investments and truly unlocking the power of their data. Here are some trends that are due to take centre stage into the future:
Relationship managers are poised to grow revenues and customer satisfaction with vastly improved, digitally driven business insights
Market leaders are increasingly implementing AI and predictive analytics solutions, growing their businesses with real-time decisions at higher returns
Legacy systems can be reliable but stall change efforts. Innovation will kick-start migration towards full digital transformation
Data and integration options in Open Banking (banks providing greater financial transparency options for account holders ranging from open data to private data) enable a rich ecosystem to help banks differentiate products and provide customer-centric services
Customer-centricity is about more than just asking customers what they want and making good on it. It requires banks to re-evaluate what they know about customers with the aim to understand who their customers are, what interests them, what they value, and what drives them.
It’s about building a relationship that is more meaningful than the transactional one banks traditionally have with their customers — a relationship that looks more like a partnership, and that is attuned to the customer’s needs.
Addressing customer needs also encompasses digital transformation within the banking industry. The emergence of a reimagined customer-centric banking experience has proven that digital is key at every level of the banking value chain. The banking industry should thus keep adapting and repurposing itself in order to ensure it stays ahead of the curve and continues to innovatively meet customer needs.
In the past six months, entrepreneurs all over Botswana have rushed into the sanitizer market. However, Kutz & Tutz Hygiene founder and Executive Director Thatayotlhe Mmereki spotted the need – and acted – more than eleven years ago.
She explains how the business grew from its humble beginnings. ‘In 2009, I left my job because I had a vision. We were determined to bring Purell hand sanitizers to Botswana. While studying in Canada, we discovered the product and knew that our fellow citizens would love it, too. We started by going door to door, searching for companies who could be our first customers,’ she says.
‘There were a lot of rejections. But I was determined. And I’ve never been a big believer in the word no,’ she laughs. Sure enough, after months of focus and persistence, Kutz & Tutz Hygiene had its first two corporate clients. ‘Those first clients gave us what we needed at the time, which was a little bit of regular income,’ explains Thatayotlhe. ‘After a while however, we noticed their needs evolving.
Soon they were asking us for hand soap, paper towels — even mobile toilets. The business was suddenly diversified and booming.’ ‘There are a lot of sanitizer salespeople out there,’ she smiles. ‘But that’s not us. We are a passion driven portfolio. We exist to raise awareness. We are compelled by a sense of cleanliness: to give our clients a better, healthier environment in which to live and work,’ she explains. ‘We are here to elevate their state of being.’
Today, Thatayotlhe finds herself at the top of an entire group of companies under the Kutz & Tutz Hygiene umbrella, employing 60 people. ‘The hygiene industry is very broad and as time has gone by we have recognized the opportunity to expand into different areas of the value chain.
We don’t just supply personal hygiene products, we also run an innovative contract cleaning and disinfection business as well as a clinical waste portfolio where we do collection, treatment and disposal. From our offices in Gaborone, Francistown and Maun, we service clients all over the country.’
She encourages SMEs in Botswana to get their priorities right. ‘Our business grows because we are not led by money. Customer relationships come first, every day. As a result, the money follows us.’ ‘The onset of COVID-19 simply reinforced what our company has been saying since 2009: healthy hands save lives. ‘Demand for our products and services continued to grow consistently before, during and after the Lockdowns. But we faced our own cash flow challenges: that’s when BancABC rose to the occasion.’ ‘
Our biggest clients were struggling to pay us on time. Many were months behind. Our relationship manager at BancABC came to us with a perfect solution. They anticipated our need for cash, reached out to us and offered us the overdraft facility we needed to stay afloat— before we even asked for it. Amazing.’ ‘Because of this assistance, we’ve been able to make significant progress in a very uncertain time. I love BancABC. They understand us.’ Thatayotlhe says she has regional expansion plans for Kutz & Tutz Hygiene, with the next chapter of growth already mapped out. Today, her eyes are fixed on the African market.
The founding directors of Botswana and JSE-listed retailer, Choppies Enterprises Limited (“Choppies” or “the Company” or “the Group”) backed the Group’s turn-around strategy to the tune of just over P11,000,000.00 million recently.
Messrs. Ramachandran Ottapathu and Ismail Farouk acquired 18 597 724 shares on the open market at an average price of approximately 63 thebe per share on the Botswana Stock Exchange in a slew of transactions at the end of October.
“As a management team, we faced numerous challenges during the past number of years. The retail environment continues to experience headwinds, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. As a significant shareholder and director, I am confident that the worst is behind Choppies and that we’re close to the bottom of the cycle. “Our investment strongly aligns us with shareholders as we now focus on further improving corporate governance and growing profitability,” comments Chief Executive Officer Ramachandran Ottapathu.
The founding directors are currently involved in litigation against the Company’s former auditor and audit partner for delaying the publication of the Company’s audited results following breaches of independence and unlawful changes to the scope of the audit. This resulted in the suspension of trade in the Company’s shares on both the Botswana Stock Exchange (“BSE”) where it holds a primary listing as well as on the JSE Limited (“JSE”).
The JSE lifted the suspension of trade in the Company’s shares, following a similar decision by the BSE in July this year. Botswana based Kwabena Antwi from Kgori Capital says that shareholders will take courage from the fact that the Group is now current on its financial statements, following the BSE’s lifting of the trading suspension.
“Shareholder confidence is usually linked with shareholders returns. Getting Choppies back to an overall profitable position, where they are capable of paying dividends will go a long way in shoring up shareholder confidence. The next phase will focus on implementing governance structures throughout the Group. Some progress has been made, but there is still more to be rolled out,” he says.
At the presentation of the audited financial results for the year ended 30 June 2020, the Company said it has discontinued or disposed of its lossmaking operations in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. This resulted in a once-off loss of approximately P371 million from discontinued operations and an increase in negative equity to P467 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2020.
“The board of Choppies considered the 2021 budgets, detailed cash flow forecasts that were stress tested, as prepared by management, banking facilities and covenants, undertakings of financial support by the founder shareholders, the economic outlook of the countries in which it operates as well as the possible future impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Based on the evidence provided by management, the Board concluded that the Group has already taken the necessary steps to remedy the past situation by discontinuing loss making operations the Company and the Group should be a going concern for the foreseeable future.
“As founder shareholders we remain committed to the turn-around strategy of Choppies, and confident of growing profitability in the short to medium term,” says Ottapathu.
The turnaround at Choppies follows implantation of turnaround strategy to improve corporate governance and exit of underperforming operations in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania