As COVID-19 continues to take a veritable socio-economic toll, businesses that stand to bear a direct and indirect strain from the worsening pandemic situation are gearing themselves to withstand any further shocks for the remainder of the situation.
This includes but is not limited to the Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) group, which shared financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2021 before critical stakeholders and spoke to lower financial performance indicators than the prior year.
Most notably, operating profit for the Group decreased by 44% over the six months to June 2021 compared to the prior year, and operating profit for Botswana Life decreased by 48% to P102 million. This was on account of excess mortality experienced during the period. P119 million claims were classified as COVID-19 claims across the different product lines, representing 29% of the total claims.
BIHL Group Chairman Batsho Dambe-Groth said that the impact of COVID-19 on financial performance was notable during the period and is reflected in the results shared. Despite increased claims affecting business performance across the BIHL Group, he indicated that BIHL has worked to keep its promise and pay benefit claims during this challenging time when Batswana need them the most.
“With our team – considered as frontline workers – at the branches operating even on weekends, we have worked to ensure that we can assist clients for funeral claims. The last thing we want clients to worry about is delays or difficulties on claim pay-outs.”
Other markers on the financial performance of the BIHL group for the period indicated that net insurance premium income increased by 28% to P1.56 billion while recurring premium income increased by 13% to P917 million.
According to the Group’s financial statement, fee revenue increased by 16% to P62 million, the value of the new business increased by 47% to P91 million, whilst assets under management increased by 10% to P33.4 billion.
Embedded value increased to P4.94 billion (June 2020: P4.69 billion). Core earnings decreased by 42% to P118 million, and profit attributable to equity holders decreased by 24% to P200 million. Return on Group Embedded Value decreased to 11.7% (June 2020: 12.4%)
Furthermore, Dambe-Groth indicated that “The year started with successful vaccine rollouts in the first world countries and announcements of further fiscal stimulus that led to the market expectation of a full re-opening of the global economy. Europe made substantial progress on the vaccination front, closing the gap with the US and UK, whilst emerging economies continued to experience slow vaccine rollout.
In Botswana, the Nationwide Government vaccination drive continues. We join the business community and all community members in hopes this brings us closer to some greater measure of stability and normalcy. This is the background within which our business worked, all of which have born significant impact on the performance in the period.”
Despite some reduced performance indicators, there have been notable strides made in the period. Across the Group, the value of the new business increased by 47% to P91 million compared to the prior year. New business volumes for the individual life retail and group funeral portfolios were higher than the previous year. The annuity portfolio also performed very well with a better value of new business margins and improved volumes.
For her part, BIHL Group CEO, Catherine Lesetedi, said “The focus continues, across the Group, on ensuring continued resilience and an ability to absorb any further negative shocks and fluctuations. Management will be implementing appropriate actions to mitigate this risk to ensure the Group’s value proposition remains sound going into the future. The risk-mitigating actions include driving profitable topline growth to ensure the business can navigate the current wave while delivering much-needed support to our policyholders.”
The Group has also augmented efforts to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of employees and clients from the risks of transmissions by a combination of actions. This includes introducing a hybrid structure of working between office and home, dispersing essential staff in several locations and ramping up the use of digital channels to limit face to face interactions.
The steady adoption of digital platforms has been observed with an acceleration in the second half of the period. The Group will continue to explore ways to limit unnecessary face to face interaction between staff and clients while ensuring that the quality of service remains uncompromised.
The focus on collaboration within the Group to ensure more significant synergies, shared value and mutually beneficial partnerships to benefit clients and customers continues.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Running a digital businessMTN Business Solutions Botswana, popularly known as MTN Business is an Internet Service Provider. We are a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, a multinational telecommunications Group headquartered in South Africa, which operates in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East.
More and more, clients are looking for ways to keep their staff productive in a dynamically changing business environment. Whether your people are working from home, the office or abroad, there is a growing recognition that digitising your operations can offer unprecedented commercial value in flexibility, productivity and growth. This new, digital reality means that it is more important than ever to stay agile – if there is anything that can slow a business down, it is being burdened by othatld technology.
Having made substantial investments in fibre technology, high-speed terrestrial and undersea networks and new frequency spectrum across the markets wherein it operates, MTN is perfectly positioned to respond to this shift in the market.
A few years ago, MTN also made the decision to build an IP capable radio network for its mobile services, giving its core network the ability to seamlessly integrate with enterprise IP networks. The mobile towers deliver services to enterprise clients absolutely anywhere it has a network, shortening the last mile and removing complexity and cost.
Now there is increasing demand from clients to connect their remote sites in all areas, including rural and semi- rural. MTN has assisted clients with overcoming this connectivity hurdle, enabling their staff to get the job done wherever they are.
For MTN, the focus has shifted from just being a core telecommunications services provider, towards also becoming a technology solutions provider. The service offering now also includes Unified Communications, Data Hosting and Cloud Solutions, Security-As-A-Service and Managed Network Services. The scope has changed to being client and industry specific, so the requirements and service portfolio vary from one client to the next. The expectation is that a company like MTN must respond to these challenges, helping clients to get business done better as they shift from old to new technologies.
As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
Ultimately, clients need partners like MTN Business that will invest in infrastructure, deliver the services they require, have market credibility, are financially sound and have a long-term commitment to their market presence.
Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.