The latest figures released by the government owned statistics firm, Statistics Botswana this week show that Botswana export revenues for the month of April 2023 declined by around P2.17 billion.
The figures show that total exports revenues during the month amounted to P6, 196.6 million (around 6 billion), a decrease of 2, 173.8 million (around 2.17 billion) from the revised March 2023 value of P8, 370.4 million (around 8 billion).
“Botswana’s value of total exports declined by 26.0 percent (P2, 173.8 million), from the revised March 2023 figure of P8, 370.4 million to P6, 196.6 million in April 2023. The major contributor to the decrease in total exports was Diamonds with 27.1 percent (P1, 953.4 million) from a revised March 2023 value of P7, 201.5 million to P5, 248.1 million in the current month,” reads the Statistics Botswana’ International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) monthly update. According to figures from the monthly update that provides a summary of trade statistics on Botswana’s total imports and exports of goods, Botswana exported merchandise valued at P6, 196.6 million in April 2023 with Diamonds group dominant at 84.7 percent (P5, 248.1 million), followed by Copper at 5.8 percent (P362.2 million). Other major export commodities being, salt & soda ash, live cattle, coal, vehicle and transport equipment, textiles contributed 1.4 percent, 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent, 0.5 percent, 0.4 percent respectively. During the month Botswana also exported significant quantities of gold, plastics & plastic products, meat & meat products and iron & steel products.
Botswana’s exports destined to Asia, Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the European Union (EU) during the month under review represented 68.6 percent, 14.2 percent and 13.2 percent of the total exports, respectively. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Belgium and South Africa received exports accounting for 27.5 percent, 17.7 percent, 13.1 percent and 12.6 percent of the monthly total, respectively. Namibia and the United States received 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent of total export in April 2023 in that sequence, according to figures from the update. “Asia was the largest export market for Botswana, having received 68.6 percent (P4, 248.1 million) of total exports. These exports were mainly destined for the UAE, India and Hong Kong at 27.5 percent (P1, 707.1 million), 17.7 percent (P1, 097.1 million) and 8.3 percent (P513.0 million) of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia, at 92.3 percent (P3, 920.1 million) and 7.6 percent (P323.1 million) respectively.”
Exports destined to the SACU region amounted to P878.4 million, accounting for 14.2 percent of total exports. “Diamonds and Machinery & Electrical Equipment were the major commodity groups exported to the customs union, accounting for 48.8 percent (P429.1 million) and 16.1 percent (P141.4 million) of total exports to the regional block respectively. South Africa was the main recipient of exports at 12.6 percent (P782.9 million) within SACU.”
The EU received exports amounting to P817.0 million, translating to 13.2 percent of total exports during the month. “Belgium received almost all the exports destined for the union, having received 13.1 percent (P811.3 million) of total exports. Diamonds was the main commodity group exported to the EU at 99.3 percent (P811.0 million).”
The USA received exports worth P89.2 million, representing 1.4 percent of Botswana’s total exports. The major commodity group exported to the USA was Diamonds at 98.1 percent (P87.5 million) of exports to that country.
Statistics Botswana indicated that despite the lower export revenues, during the month of April 2023 Botswana’s recorded a trade surplus during the month under review. Export revenues were higher than the import bill, resulting with a trade surplus amounting to P135.9 million. “In April 2023, the value of total imports was P6, 060.7 million, registering a decrease of 16.0 percent (P1, 154.2 million) from the revised March 2023 figure of P7, 214.9 million. The decrease was attributable to a decline in the importation of all commodity groups.”
The statistics entity noted that during April 2023, the top import groups were; Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco; Machinery & Electrical Equipment; Chemicals & Rubber Products and Diamonds. The top three items, Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Machinery & Electrical Equipment imports contributed 22.5 percent (P1, 365.1 million), 18.0 percent (P1, 091.3 million) and 12.4 percent (P750.4 million) to total imports respectively. Chemicals & Rubber Products and Diamonds each contributed 12.2 percent at P739.6 million and P738.2 million respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana at 81.7 percent (P4, 949.0 million) to the total imports and the top most imported commodity groups from the customs union were; Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Chemicals & Rubber Products with contributions of 25.1 percent (P1, 243.1 million), 21.1 percent (P1, 042.2 million) and 11.1 percent (P548.5 million), respectively. During the reporting period, South Africa and Namibia were Botswana’s main sources of imports from the SACU region as the two countries supplied 76.8 percent (P4, 652.4 million) and 4.3 percent (P258.9 million) of Botswana’s total imports in that order.
Asia supplied imports worth P481.5 million, representing 7.9 percent of Botswana’s total imports and the major commodity groups imported were Diamonds; Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Chemicals & Rubber Products, with contributions of 31.3 percent (P150.8 million), 26.3 percent (P126.6 million) and 12.2 percent (P58.8 million) of total imports from the block, respectively. China and India made contributions of 2.7 percent (P161.0 million) and 2.4 percent (P144.7 million) to total imports respectively, during the month under review.
Botswana received imports worth P275.7 million (4.5 percent) from the EU in April 2023. The major commodity groups imported from the EU were Diamonds; Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Chemicals & Rubber Products at 33.2 percent (P91.6 million), 27.6 percent (P76.0 million) and 26.4 percent (P72.9 million) of total imports from the union, respectively. Belgium supplied 1.7 percent (P100.7 million) of total imports.
In April 2023, the USA contributed 1.2 percent (P71.7 million) of total imports to Botswana, of which 51.4 percent (P36.8 million) and 19.3 percent (P13.8 million) were Chemicals & Rubber Products and Machinery & Electrical Equipment respectively.
Statistics Botswana indicated that active modes of transport mainly used in Botswana for movement of international merchandise trade are Air, Road and Rail. During the month under review imports accounting for 74.5 percent (P4, 516.8 million) of the monthly total value were transported into the country by road, while those carried by rail and air represented 13.5 percent (P816.2 million) and 12.0 percent (P727.2 million) respectively. Goods that left the country by air were valued at P5, 347.5 million, representing 86.3 percent of total exports, while those exported by road and rail accounted for 13.3 percent (P822.8 million) and 0.4 percent (P25.5 million) in that order.
The UK based research entity, Fitch Solutions Group recent forecasts indicate that Botswana will record low export revenues this year, as a result of a drop in global diamond prices. The firm stated that latest data shows that the Antwerp Diamond Index fell to 142 in December, from a peak of 165 in March 2022 and added that the falling diamond prices will weigh on export earnings for Botswana in 2023. A supply crunch during the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a sharp increase in diamond prices, which was then prolonged by sanctions placed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in 2021, according to the firm. “However, prices have since fallen back, and this is likely to weigh significantly on overall export earnings, especially given that diamonds totaled 90.1% of Botswana’s total exports in 2021. Weak global conditions will also weigh on export demand. Our Global team expects global growth to slow to 2.1% in 2023, from an estimated 3.1% in 2022. As such, we forecast that exports will contract by 5.1% in 2023, after growing by an estimated 17.5% in 2022.”
The firm projected that Botswana could record recovery in export earnings in 2024. “We project a recovery in export earnings in 2024 as diamond prices stabilize.” According to the firm further growth in the tourism sector is also expected to positively contribute to growth in export earnings. “Our tourism team expects that revenues from international tourism will rise by 48% to USD740mn in 2024.”
With just four weeks to go, the Gambling Authority of Botswana has revealed that it is expecting a record attendance at the much anticipated International Association of Gambling Regulators (IAGR) Conference, which will be held in Botswana from 16 – 19 October 2023.
According to a communique from the IAGR, the Gambling Authority will most probably break the record in the number of accredited countries that will attend the conference in Botswana.
“We are on track to match and potentially exceed the incredible delegate turnout we saw in Melbourne last year,” read a statement from IAGR’s.
In its global reach alert, IAGR revealed a glimpse of jurisdictions that will be represented at the conference, among them Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Jersey, Mauritius, United Kingdom, United States and Netherlands. African countries that have so far confirmed attendance include Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi.
Commenting on the expected bumper attendance, IAGR said the amazing diversity elevates the conference to a whole new level, which will enrich discussions with a tapestry of regulatory perspectives and insights.
Botswana won the bid to host this year’s conference last year in Melbourne, Australia. The IAGR consists of representatives from gaming and gambling regulatory organizations from around the world; with a common mission to advance the effectiveness and efficiency of gaming regulation.
According to Gambling Authority Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Kesitilwe, the Authority is a member of the IAGR by dictates of the Gambling Act; which compels it to align with international organizations whose objectives are to regulate gambling, and build collaboration among regulators.
“The IAGR conference is held annually and hosted by different member jurisdictions. It provides opportunities for gambling and gaming regulators from around the world to engage, learn and network with industry peers through events, workshops, research, information sharing, and the development of best practices,” explained Kesitilwe.
Funding requirements for the conference are shared between IAGR, the host country and conference participants. The government of Botswana has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the Gambling Authority to host IAGR; as it is in line with its objectives of promoting the country as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism destination.
According to Kesitilwe, the conference is coordinated by a Technical Committee of IAGR; together with a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) that comprises of representatives from the Ministries of Trade, Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Botswana Police Service and other stakeholders.
“We promise to deliver this hugely important event and showcase the best that Botswana has to offer. In addition to the exchange of ideas and culture capital, the Organizing Committee will also ensure maximum benefits for the tourism, hotel and hospitality industry, entertainment, transport, telecommunications, vendors, hawkers of cultural artifacts,” said Kesitilwe.
As part of preparations to host IAGR2023, the Gambling Authority recently went on a benchmarking mission to Great Britain.
“What we learnt there can assist the Gambling Authority as we enter a new era of growth and expansion. The meeting also provided a timely opportunity to catch up on preparations for IAGR2023. We are ready to host the conference and we look forward to meeting other regulators from across the world to share best practice, discuss common challenges and tackle illegal gambling,” concluded Kesitilwe.
In recent years, diversity and inclusion have emerged as crucial aspects of the corporate sector. Recognising the importance of inclusivity, the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has taken significant steps to signal its commitment to the inclusion of all regardless of age, gender, background. By implementing a comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion policy, BDC aims to create an environment that fosters equality, attracts top talent, and promotes creativity and innovation.
BDC has demonstrated its commitment to inclusion by crafting and implementing a bespoke Diversity and Inclusion policy. This policy recognises and values the differences within its workforce, striving to create a culture of equality. By fostering an environment where all employees feel respected and supported, BDC aims to attract and retain top talent, which in turn contributes to the organisation’s overall success.
The Corporation has implemented policies and strategies that promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The Diversity and Inclusion policy emphasises the value and respect for employees from diverse backgrounds, creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. By having this policy in place, BDC ensures that all employees are treated fairly and have equal opportunities for growth and development within the organisation.
In the realm of inclusivity, leading firms and companies have emerged as trailblazers, championing diversity and equity by implementing progressive policies and initiatives. These organisations have made significant strides in demonstrating their commitment to inclusivity through actions that support individuals with disabilities and foster work-life balance for all employees.
Microsoft actively recruits individuals with disabilities and fosters an inclusive workplace through accommodations and a dedicated resource group. Netflix offers generous paternity leave, Unilever supports surrogate parenthood and gender-neutral caregiver benefits, while IBM provides comprehensive adoption support. Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook establish employee resource groups to amplify underrepresented voices. Adobe prioritises inclusive workplace design, and Accenture and Deloitte focus on diverse leadership representation. These companies set a powerful example, demonstrating the value of diversity and fostering a more inclusive corporate landscape.
Rising to the challenge, BDC has also taken several measures to respond to the different needs of its work force. These measures include fostering open and respectful communication, encouraging the formation of employee resource groups or affinity networks, and promoting diverse perspectives and contributions. The Corporation has also shown its commitment to inclusivity by recruiting persons with disabilities, providing paternity leave benefits, and recognising and supporting surrogate parenthood, primary caregiver benefits regardless of gender, as well as the adoption of children. These efforts demonstrate BDC’s progressive approach to embracing diversity and supporting employees in all aspects of their lives.
By so doing, The Corporation exemplifies the essence of progressiveness, embracing inclusivity as a core value. By championing diverse talent, providing supportive benefits, and fostering inclusive cultures, BDC is part of a movement that is shaping a future where every individual is valued and empowered.
Inclusion and diversity are not only moral imperatives but also strategic investments for success. BDC’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, sets an example for other organisations in Botswana and beyond. By implementing policies and strategies that create an inclusive environment, celebrating diversity, and supporting employees from all walks of life, BDC paves the way for a more equitable and inclusive corporate sector in Botswana. Embracing diversity is not only the right thing to do; it also drives innovation, boosts employee morale, and contributes to the overall success of organisations.
Choppies Enterprises Limited, a supermarket chain led by Botswana businessman Ramachandran Ottapathu, reported an increase in profit after tax which is up 3.4%, hence improving from P145 million realized in 2022, to P150 million in 2023.
The results demonstrate sustained increases in consumer demand, improved operational flexibility, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and despite stiff competition, the Group managed reduce its debt levels by paying off P263 million debt from the previous fiscal year.
The chain supermarket realized growth in Group retail sales which went up 6.5% to BWP6 433 million compared to P6 042 recorded in 2022. The growth is attributed to a broad presence across Botswana and a growing footprint in three other African countries, being South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to a recently financial results statement.
In Pula terms, gross profit grew by 4.0% to BWP 1 359 million (2022: BWP 1 307 million) despite the challenging economic environment. Botswana and Namibia marginally grew gross profit rates while rates in Zambia and Zimbabwe declined.
During the period under review, the group’s Group net cash generated from operating activities rose by 4.5% to P484 million, this is a significant improvement when compared to P463 million recorded in 2022. This segment was boosted by strong showing from Botswana and Namibia, which performed exceptionally despite the challenging trading conditions. Furthermore, it was driven by sixteen new stores coupled with price growth of 6.8%.
As a result of the robust financial performance, the group’s total assets increased from P1 886 million to P2 177 million, while retained losses decreased from P811 million to P664 million.
Meanwhile, the Group faced a demanding economic environment characterised by stubbornly high inflation, higher interest rates and unemployment, all of which continue to constrain consumer spending and the consumer’s ability to digest higher prices. Sales volumes were lower in many categories, exacerbated by competitor discounting, with cost pressures only partly recovered through price increases.
According to the audited results, the gross profit margin accordingly reduced to 21.1% from last year’s 21.6% due to higher supply chain costs, including fuel and managing prices in response to higher cost inflation and competitor discounting.
Furthermore, while expenses increased 5.1% excluding the depreciation restatement, expenses grew 9.8% partly due to new stores and inflation. Foreign exchange losses on lease liabilities of P31 million (against a gain of P28 million last year) were partly offset by foreign exchange gains on Zimbabwean legacy debt receipts of P18 million (2022: BWP15 million).
Operating profit (EBIT) reduced by 1.8% from BWP 279 million to BWP 274 million whilst Adjusted EBIT, which excludes foreign exchange gains and losses on lease liabilities, movements in credit loss allowances, Zimbabwean legacy debt receipts and the reassessment of depreciation, reduced by 7.5% as costs grew faster than gross profit.
According to the Choppies Enterprises financial statement commentary, the Group continues to manage its cash resources and liquidity prudently with a reduction of P132 million in debt with P87 million paid out of internally generated funds and the balance of P45 million paid out of the proceeds of the rights issue.
In addition, capital expenditure increased to P185 million when compared to 2022 fiscal year which had recorded P122 million. This was a result of the Group strategy to invest in new stores and maintaining the distribution fleet.
Choppies Enterprises raised BWP50 million from leases to fund the fleet, an improvement because in 2022 only P36 million was raised.
Despite the growth in sales, inflation and new stores, Choppies Enterprises inventory reduced by P20 million helped by more stable global supply and the benefits of implementing an inventory optimisation system.
Finally, commentary from the Choppies Enterprises Group observes that as the economies in which the Group operates recover and the new stores reach full potential, an improvement in margins is expected. “With a value proposition that resonates with customers and with the cost of everyday items still stubbornly high in too many categories, more customers are choosing Choppies for the value and assortment we are known for. While we have strong and resilient brands, affordability is a growing constraint for consumers, limiting their ability to digest higher prices,” reads a commentary on the Group’s Financial statement.
Choppies Enterprises Limited (“the Company”) is a Botswana-based investment holding company operating in the retail sector in Southern Africa. Dual-listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (“BSE”) and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (“JSE”), its are food and general merchandise retailing as well as financial service transactions supported by centralised distribution channels through distribution and logistical support centres. Each week, approximately 2.0 million customers visit 177 stores under five formats in four countries. With annual revenue of more than BWP6 billion, Choppies employs 10 000 people and is the largest grocery retailer in Southern Africa, outside of South Africa.
EVENTS AFTER REPORTING DATE
On 19 July 2023, Choppies acquired 76% (seventy-six percent) of the Kamoso Group for BWP2.00 (two Pula) and took cession of shareholders’ loans to the value of BWP22 million. The Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) will retain its 24% stake.
This acquisition will take Choppies to become a P8 billion business in revenue with 11 000 employees and 274 retail stores.
SNEAK VIEW: COUNTRY PERFORMANCES
According to the financial results, Botswana experienced sales growth to BWP4 459 million an improvement from P4 209 million recorded in 2022. This was supported by volume growth from new stores and double-digit price inflation. Sales from Botswana increased by 5.9% and like-for-like sales growth was 2.2%, as the business continued to show strong resilience in an increasingly challenging economic environment. The Botswana economy continues to experience elevated inflation, high unemployment, and low economic growth.
EBITDA grew 5.8% and adjusted EBITDA was flat on last year. The performance for the second half was much stronger than in the first half as our strategies, leadership and inventory optimisation system have started to come to fruition.
As for the Rest of Africa being Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe sales increased by 7.7% to P 1 974 million, yet another improvement from 2022, which had realized P1 833 million sales. The increase was driven by the addition of nine new stores, inflationary increases in Zimbabwe and Zambia and volume growth in Namibia and Zambia. “However, this was offset by a very weak Zimbabwean Dollar resulting in Zimbabwe’s Pula sales declining by 48.3%.”
Meanwhile Namibia has successfully turned around with sales growth of 60.0% and like-for-like sales growth of 14.4%. Five new stores were opened during the year. EBITDA grew 140% with EBIT loss reducing from BWP9 million to BWP2 million. Adjusted EBIT, excluding the depreciation reassessment, reduced from BWP9 million to BWP6 million.
Connectedly, Zambia continues to grow with sales up 44.7% and like-for-like sales growth of 33.3%. Three new stores were opened during the year. While EBITDA declined by 26.4% due to the foreign exchange loss on the lease liability, adjusted EBITDA grew 27.1%. Adjusted EBIT declined marginally at 2.6%. Choppies Enterprises Directors are confident that Zambia will generate taxable profits in the foreseeable future.
Lastly in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWL) has significantly weakened especially in the last two months of the financial year. As a result of the above mentioned factors, Pula sales declined by 48.3%. EBIT and EBITDA declined by 151.6% and 125.5% respectively as cost inflation reduced margins. Adjusted EBIT and adjusted EBITDA declined 133.3% and 108.1% respectively.