The domestic economy is poised to grow strong this year despite a poisoned political landscape which has taken centre stage ahead of the highly-anticipated elections expected this October.
This is because unlike in previous years where mining was the only cog that drove the economy, that is becoming history as non-mining sectors such as retail, trade and energy and water are stepping up to pick the economy, which has recently been blowing hot and cold.
The latest economic data from Statistics Botswana shows that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) leapfrogged by 4,2 percent in the third quarter of 2018, reasonably higher than the 3,5 percent which was recorded in the same period in 2017. According to the statistics body, the increase was attributed to real value added of water & electricity, trade, hotels & restaurants and transport & communications which increased by 42.6, 6.9 and 5.8 percent respectively.
“All other industries recorded positive growths of more than 2.5 percent with the exception of mining which decreased by 2.7 percent,” said the Dr. Burton Mguni-led agency. According to experts, the GDP rise provides a perfect foundation for all things good to come in the medium to long term, especially given the expected social and economic policy changes that will come with the new administration.
In a response to Botswana Guardian questions this Wednesday, Portfolio Manager at Inkunzi Investments, Jonathan Paledi said there is no need to touch panic buttons since, diamonds, the main driver in the mining sector, which contributes nearly 30 percent to national GDP, appear to have come back strongly.
“Going forward we would expect growth to be driven by both the mining and non-mining sector. We are confident on the contribution of the mining sector to GDP growth given the increased production volumes in the diamond industry and rising prices for both rough and polished diamonds. The non-mining sector will continue to positively contribute to GDP growth with great resilience seen especially in the services sector,” said Paledi, who has worked for Botswana’s central bank in the past.
His view on the mining sector recovery is backed up by the fact that De Beers, a company which Botswana part-owns, closed 2018 on a high after netting $540 million in revenue in December, its biggest sight in three years. The confidence in the diamond subsector is even shown by De Beers’ plans to invest over P120 billion in expanding mines such as Jwaneng, Orapa and Venetia in South Africa. The expansion is predicted to boost the economy in the medium to long term.
When it comes to non-mining sectors, Bank of Botswana’s Governor, Moses Pelaelo noted that the services sector will also pull the economy through. “Furthermore, the projected accommodative monetary conditions in the domestic economy and increase in government expenditure are expected to support growth of economic activity in the non-mining sectors,” said Pelaelo at the end of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in December.
In his maiden state of the nation address President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi added that among the non-mining activities where positive growth is expected are services, in particular the tourism and retail sub-sectors. “As much as the domestic economy will be boosted by most sectors, it is highly unlikely that when Statistical Botswana compiles all economic data for 2018 in a few months time, the economy will have grown by 5,3 percent predicted by Finance and Economic Development minister, Kenneth Matambo last February.
“We find it highly improbable that GDP for 2018 will grow at 5.3 percent. For that to happen, we would need to see a year-on-year GDP growth for Q4 of around 7 percent, which would be the highest for this year and significantly higher than the GDP growth of 5.2 percent realised in Q2. However GDP growth for 2018 will be better than that of 2017 which was 2.9 percent,” said Paledi.
Meanwhile, at the Botswana Stock Exchange, markets have opened on a high. According to a stock market report prepared by Stockbrokers Botswana, the Domestic Consumer Index (DCI), which tracks the performance of domestically listed firms, kicked off the New Year on the green after gaining 0.27 percent to close the week at 7874.41 points.
“Furnmart was the flavour of the week after the company exercised its share buyback at the offer price of 65thebe. 100,049,053 shares in Furnmart traded, representing 16.5 percent of total shares outstanding,” said Stockbrokers which is headed by Bokete Mokgosi. Other gainers during the first week of 2019 were Letshego, closing the week at 165 thebe, while Standard Chartered and G4S lost 3thebe and 4thebe to close at 380thebe and 360thebe respectively.
Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana does not give President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi immunity in a case in which his legitimacy as President of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is being challeneged, Kamal Jacobs’ lawyer has argued.
Jacobs argues that Dr. Masisi is not the substantive President of the BDP and as such did not and does not have powers to appoint Committees of Central Committee including the BDP Appeals Board Committee chaired by Kinsley Sebele in terms of Article 33 of the BDP Constitution.
Jacobs lost the BDP’s parliamentary primary elections for Lobatse Constituency to Economist Thapelo Matsheka. Matsheka was up against Ahmed Shabbeer Ishael, Kamal Jacobs, Patrick G. Kebailele, Sadique kebonang (incumbent) and Lone Lincoln Bome.
In the 25th August 2018 Bulela Ditswe results Sadique Kebonang got 1073, Lone Bome 66 votes, Ahmed Shabeer Ishmail 317 votes, Patrick Matlhodi 218 votes, Kamal Jacobs 1219 votes and Thapelo Matsheka won with 1376 votes.
Jacobs attorney Kagisano Tamocha argued this week before High Court Judge Michael Mothobi that Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of Botswana is not applicable in their case because they are talking about the presidency of the BDP. Section 41(1) states “whilst any person holds or performs the functions of the office of President no criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him or her either in his or her official capacity or in his or her private capacity and no civil proceedings shall be instituted or continued in respect of which relief is claimed against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in his or her private capacity.”
Bogopa of Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza and Company representing Dr. Masisi, BDP, BDP Electoral Board, Appeals Board and BDP Southern Region told the court earlier that in accordance with the section Dr Masisi is immune from the suit and he should have not been cited in the case. He said it is not disputed that Dr. Masisi is the sitting president and as such no criminal or civil suit should be instituted against him.
“The interpretation of this section has been done by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the 2009 Gomolemo Motswaledi case. The two cases are not distinguishable. The current case is a civil application in which a relief is sought against Dr. Masisi about something he has done in his private capacity as a member of the BDP.
“Both High Court and Court of Appeal have proved that actions taken by the president in his or her private capacity- no civil proceedings could be instituted against him or her,” said Bogopa. Otlaadisa Kwape of the Attorney General also concurred with Bogopa that in accordance with the section and its interpretation by the highest court in the land the sitting president is immune from any litigation.
Attorney General has joined in the case as Amicus Curie (Friend of the Court). Kwape told the court that therefore the application against Dr. Masisi should be dismissed. However, Tamocha representing Jacobs argued that the section is not applicable in the present case. He told the court that there is a difference between the current case
and the Motswaledi case as cited by the respondents. He pointed out that in the current case they are not asking the president to perform anything.
“Section 41 (1) is not applicable in this case because no one is claiming anything from or against Dr Masisi. This is a point of departure from the Motswaledi case. All what we are asking is for court to arrive at a finding as to whether Dr Masisi is holding the office of the presidency of the BDP in accordance with the BDP constitution.
“We are challenging his legitimacy as President of the BDP. Dr Masisi is a beneficiary of automatic succession in terms of the constitution of Botswana. However, the constitution of the BDP does not provide for automatic succession. Our interpretation of Section 41 (1) is of electoral importance,” said Tamocha.
At this point Justice Mothobi pointed to the attorney that his client is seeking relief against the president and others. Tamocha indicated that Section 41 should be read in its entirety and not in part. He argued that if Section 41 (1) was to be held to be applicable in the current case it would be a recipe for disaster, a human calamity.
He stated that the Motswaledi case is not applicable because the facts of the two cases are not the same and in the Motswaledi case no question of legitimacy was raised and such interpretation in the current case would be overreaching.
Section 41(2) states “where provision is made by law limiting the time within which proceedings of any description may be brought against any person, the term of any person in the office of President shall not be taken into account in calculating any period of time prescribed by that law which determines whether any such proceedings as are mentioned in subsection (1) of this section may be brought against that person.”
Tamocha further argued that an interpretation followed as in the case of Motswaledi is not for public good as provided for by Section 26 of the Interpretation Act, in that such decision would be denying members of the BDP their democratic right of electing their leader if they cannot question their leader’s legitimacy.
Regarding the citing of former President Ian Khama both Bogopa and Kwape argued that he should be struck out of the proceedings. Bogopa stated that no decision should be made regarding Khama because he was not in court to speak for himself.
“He has not deposed an affidavit and what would be said would be tantamount to hearsay. There is nothing in the court papers that says that Dr Khama is incapacitated and cannot sue someone to protect his rights and empowerment. He could have at least been cited as a co-applicant and not a respondent,” he said.
Tamocha told the court that Dr Khama is important in the current case and that as much as no relief is sought against him, he remains important to the case. Dr Khama can deny or agree that he is the substantive president of the BDP.
“I can confirm that service of court papers was done on the 3rd respondent (Dr Khama) on the 19th December 2018. Proof of service is by way of an affidavit by one Tebagano Lebotse. It was filed with the court on Monday this week. This case is brought here in good faith and not meant to embarrass anyone. It is meant to get clarity on the legitimacy for Dr Masisi to hold office of BDP presindency,” Tamocha said.
Justice Mothobi would deliver judgement next week Wednesday.
Salary negotiations for public servants are yet to start under less than a month before Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo makes his annual budget speech to the nation.This publication has gathered that the negotations which were to start in December 2018 failed to take off as the parties- public sector trade unions and the employer represented by Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) - could not meet.
This seems to have been the culture for years between the two parties to fail to agree on salary increment and conditions of service for public servants before the budgeting process gets underway. In most cases negotiations have been carried over to the next financial year. Trade unions have accused the DPSM of stalling to have the negotiations kickstarted.
However, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed his wish for the unions and DPSM to conclude their negotiations before the delivery of the 2019/2020 budget. The president said this on New Year’s Eve when receiving a report on the Review of Salaries Conditions of Service and Entitlements for the Political Leadership, Justices of Court of Appeal and High Court, Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and Councilors.
The report was presented by the commission chairperson Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe. The president assured public servants and union leaders that government has left some space in the budget within which to maneuver but the space cannot be as big as everyone would want.
DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane could not be reached for comment as her mobile phones were not going through. Her supervisor Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi said he had not much information regarding the negotiations and Mosalakatane would be better place to talk about the issue.
“I do not have their timetable for the negotiations but in our recent meeting she told me that they should be meeting soon with the trade union party regarding the negotiations. It might be before end of this week but I am not very sure about the date because I do not have sufficient information on that,” said Morupisi in an interview.
Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa confirmed that negotiations were scheduled to start in December last year. “As trade unions we wanted negotiations to start on the 21st of December 2018, but DPSM said they are not ready. So, we are still waiting for them to tell us as when they are ready,” said Motshegwa in an interview. Regarding the statement made by the president, the BOFEPUSU spokesperson said Dr Masisi has a propensity to announce things which his ministries and the DPSM operate parallel to.
He indicated that earlier during the State of the Nation Address, the president stated that the unions have been given a Report of Pemandu Consultancy which government commissioned to look into conditions of service of public officers.
“This was all lies, as up to now we have not been given the report. When we confronted the DPSM in our last meeting with them over this misleading announcement by the president, they could only apologise saying they do not know how the statement found the day,” he revealed.
The unionist stated that they have been promised the report before end of December 2018 but nothing has happened. Motshegwa said currently as unions they cannot share with third parties their proposals to the employer regarding increment and conditions of service.He however indicated that public servants in Botswana are currently living under severe, unpalatable and unberable conditions of service in a country so rich.
He said this was so mostly for lower scales employees some of whom though working are painfully poor and constituting the working poor. According to Motshegwa this is immoral and it’s a shame on the leaders of this country in that they have failed to instil dignity in the lives of the people despite the country being blessed with abundance of resources.
“Workers are creators of wealth of this country but sidelined to the periphery when it comes to economic distribution. It so happens that politicians always brag about how there has been developments in this country. What is disturbing is that the hard work of working people is not recognised as the national economic gains of their efforts does not translate or come with any meaningful reward for them.
“This is much driven and influenced by a capitalist system riddled with selfishness, massive corruption, a system with no regard for social justice and thus has created economic disparities, poverty and breeding many social ills,” Motshegwa said.
He pointed out that it is to that effect that as public sector trade unions they urge Government to be serious about improving the conditions of service of workers. There is need to addresses current salaries which are failing against the many economic dynamics inclduing the burden of inflation, he explained.
He added that there is urgent need for conditions of service to be reviewed for purpose of dignity at work.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum - a regional organisation of 14 Parliaments of the Southern Africa Region based in Windhoek, Namibia – is recruiting for qualified candidates from 12 of the member countries for the position of Secretary General.
The closing date for applications is 15th February 2019 while the position is tenable for the period 1st July, 2019 to 30th June, 2024. All member countries -Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania- are eligible to apply for the position with the exception of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to the SADCPF Secretariat, this is in the spirit of rotation, as was approved by the 44th Plenary Assembly on 4th December, 2018, in Maputo, Mozambique at which the decision to recruit for the position was taken. SADC PF serves as the voice of Parliamentarians on regional matters, and promotes regional cooperation and integration.
A Motswana citizen, Boemo Ndu Sekgoma, the longest serving director of programmes at SADC PF- currently holds the position of secretary general on acting capacity. This was necessitated by the void ocassioned by the departure of substantive secretarary general - Dr. Esau Chiviya - a Zimbabwean native, who was implicated in financial impropriety and has been subjected to a discipinary hearing chaired by SADC PF Executive Committee member, Adv. Duma Boko, who doubles as Chairman of the SADC PF Legal Sub-Committee
The Secretary-General is the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the SADC Parliamentary Forum set up under Rule 13 of the SADC PF Constitution, which provides that: “There shall be a Secretariat headed by the Secretary General and comprising such other staff as may be appointed by the Executive Committee”.
The Secretary General shall be appointed by the Plenary Assembly on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, on such terms and conditions of service approved by the Plenary Assembly.Among others the duties of the Secretary General of the SADC PF include corporate development, initiating new directives, as well as managing and co-ordinating the activities of the SADC PF subject to the general direction of the Executive Committee.
The Secretary-General is the Secretary to the Plenary Assembly, as well as other policy organs, and shall provide advice to the Plenary Assembly, the President, the Executive Committee and the policy organs on procedure and any other related matters.
The Secretary General shall coordinate the overall business and is the custodian of the Journals and records of the Plenary Assembly, and shall ensure the timely dissemination of records and implementation of resolutions.
The Secretary-General, as the head of the Secretariat is responsible for ensuring effective day to day operations, protecting the integrity of the Secretariat and managing the staff. In this context, the Secretary General is expected to provide effective professional and managerial leadership in the development and implementation of internal corporate, financial, administrative and human resources management strategies, policies and plans.
The Secretary-General shall be primarily responsible for the public representation of the SADC PF and promoting its aims and objectives. The Secretary General shall be responsible for maintaining relations with Member Parliaments and the host government, and for providing necessary advice and guidance as may be appropriate for ensuring the effective participation of the membership in the affairs of the SADC PF.
The post holder must be a citizen of a Southern African Development Community Member Country with at least a minimum of a relevant Master’s degree, including a good first degree from reputable universities; He or she must have a minimum of 10 years proven relevant experience in top managerial positions in reputable organisation/s. Parliamentary experience is not a necessity but will be an added advantage; and must be 55 years old or younger, as at 1st July, 2019.As an equal opportunity employer, SADC PF strongly encourages qualified women, with the requisite experience to apply.
Applications must be made through the Member Parliament of the country of which the candidate is a citizen.
Judgment in the case in which Vincent Phologo of Makopong village is fighting for survival in his bid to remain Kgosi has been postp t, which stripped him off bogosi, which he argues in court papers that it rightly belongs to him. Phologo argues that he is entitled to rescission of the judgment so that the real issues in dispute between the parties can be “fully ventilated”.
Phologo was in April last year relieved of his duties as Sub-chief for Makopong village following a court order by Justice Michael Leburu that his appointment to the position back in 2016 was unprocedural and should be set aside. The judgment followed a successful bid by some members of the Makopong community who challenged in court his appointment without elections being held.Phologo was subsequently released from his job by the Minister of Local Government, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who also addressed a kgotla meeting in the village and told residents that she was still looking into the matter.
Phologo on the other hand launched an urgent application before Justice Leburu, praying for stay of execution of the order that, his appointment as Sub-chief be set aside and that the respondents bear the costs of the application on ordinary scale.
In his affidavit Phologo argued that he has filed the urgent application for stay of execution shortly after filling another application for rescission.
“The protection I seek from this court is that by reason that I have filed an application for rescission of the judgment in question, this court should grant an order staying the execution of the judgment in respect of which rescission proceedings are pending,” read part of the affidavit.
The respondents in the case; Dixon Radijeng and others (representing members of the Makopong community) opposed the urgent application saying the application was not urgent and that there was nothing to stay because the court order has already been carried into effect by the minister.
Delivering his judgment at the time, Justice Leburu noted that the applicant did not approach the court with the necessary promptness. “He waited for over 60 days before approaching the court to vindicate and assert his rights,” he argued, adding that the application for stay of execution was even filed six days after the minister executed the judgement of the court.
The judge then dismissed the application for stay of execution. The case for rescission of the judgement was then transferred to Justice Dube following Justice Leburu’s transfer to Gaborone. Speaking to Botswana Guardian on behalf of the community, Helper Chabanga, who is listed as third respondent in the matter confirmed that the judgment has been postponed to the 31st of January.
Chabanga expressed worry at the delay saying it is almost a year now that the Makopong community has been without a Kgosi.“As a community we are a bit concerned. We don’t have a problem with the judicial system as we trust it will look at the matter with an independent eye, our major concern is the delay,” he said.
Chabanga wondered why the concerned minister did not go back to the community to address them and explain why a Kgosi could not be appointed following Justice Leburu’s judgment. “We expected the minister to come back to us, she only addressed us in April last year and she said she will appeal the matter, but since government has not appealed Leburu’s judgment we expected her to start the process of appointing a new Kgosi,” he said.
He is of the view that government is biased towards Phologo at the expense of the whole community. Chabanga argues that some high-ranking officials took interest in the Makopong bogosi because Phologo is related to a high-ranking Botswana Democratic Party member in the village. “As the community we will continue fighting for our rights,” he said.
Investigation into the alleged corruption at Botswana Railways (BR) regarding the passenger train coaches is still on going.This was revealed recently by Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General Bruno Paledi. In 2016 BR was said to have failed to follow laid down procedures when procuring the 37 coaches from South Africa’s Transnet Engineering.
Paledi has revealed that investigations are progressing well in the matter. He said the only challenge they have is that the matter involves parties in other jurisdictions, adding that cross-border investigations take time. This is because law enforcement agencies in the affected countries have to be engaged.
Paledi could however not state at what level the investigation is saying it is difficult to tell because of complexity of corruption cases. The first 22 coaches were received and launched in March 2016 by President Dr Ian Khama in Lobatse. Even though allegations of corruption and malpractice were reported prior and after the launch of the coaches, which reports were dismissed, the train experienced technical problems during its maiden trip.
Investigations by this publication in 2016 suggested that Transnet was also under pressure to deliver the coaches within the agreed time with the client (BR), something that could have compromised the coaches from undergoing all the required tests among them mechanical and electrical testing.
The train was first expected to have commenced operation in December 2015 as promised by then President Ian Khama during a political rally a few months before the 2014 general elections, but this was not to be. Instead, Botswana Guardian then uncovered communications between officials from Transnet Engineering regarding completion and readiness for delivery of the coaches to Botswana.
It has also been alleged that 22 of the 37 coaches worth R280 million which were delivered for the launch were incomplete when they left Pretoria, meaning that all engineering tests- electrical, mechanical and sign off were not done by the quality department before the coaches left the workshops.
BR is said to have also not participated in the 2000KM fault free trip to ascertain the safety and quality of the coaches. The coaches were engineered and manufactured at Transnet’s Koedoespoort (KDS) and Salt River (SLR) Facilities. One of the documents titled Coach 85478 contains outstanding spares that were needed in Mafikeng urgently for completion of the coach. Some of the spares that were needed included among others, water filter pipe cab on the emergency brake side, control box for aircon (1), Orange box for aircon, lights covers (5), cover plates between steps and the head stock (4), 20x10 Amps Relays, roof aircons (2), door striker plates (4) and all Decals for under-frame components (e.g water tank, retention tank and filtration system).
Botswana Guardian is in possession of emails exchanged between officials at Transnet Engineering on how they should speed up things so as to meet the client’s requirements and try to safe guard the company (Transnet Engineering) Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)’s integrity. The passenger train scandal resulted in senior officials at BR being suspended pending investigations and the procurement department slapped with corruption charges.
Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has announced intentions to revise the local bourse’s equity brokerage commission, following its seemingly biased increase in April 2016.
Indication are that BSE’s equity brokerage commission ceiling of 1.85 percent is one of the highest compared to markets such as Dar Es Salaam Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Mauritius and Nairobi Stock Exchange, among others.Thapelo Tsheole, BSEL Chief Executive Officer said the stability of turnover has weakened since the brokerage commission was increased.
He said the development has hindered unlocking value from the investment and the initiatives of the Exchange with respect to the development of the market. “The BSE is not entirely against increasing fees, but is of the view that these increments have to be substantiated by considerable value add from the service providers and should follow an objective and consultative framework that eliminates any perception of conflict of interest particularly as that was the perception at the time the BSE was a mutual entity,” said Tsheole. Sharing BSEL’s concerns on a position paper dubbed: ‘Paper on Revision of the Equity Brokerage Commission’, Tsheole said the benchmarking exercise which was undertaken to review the brokerage commission in 2016 relied on information provided by an interested party - a broker.
He added that the exercise could not have provided an independent and objective analysis for the BSE to make a well informed decision. “The information presented by the broker was not complete and comprehensive and from that end, it selected higher ends (ceilings) of the brokerage commissions to give an impression that brokerage commission in Botswana is very low compared to the chosen markets to support the introduction of the floor.”
The position paper further notes that in most markets, brokerage commission is on a sliding scale, therefore the scales are such that brokerage declines as the value of the transaction increases. “In a few markets, brokerage is negotiable within certain ranges and in some market it is flat,” said Tsheole. BSEL is soliciting for views from brokers, asset managers and all stakeholders, ahead of revising the brokerage commission.
Reserve bank authorities have announced that Bureaux de Change that closed last year increased compared to previous years. Mareledi Selabe, Communication Manager at Bank of Botswana confirmed that most of Bureaux de Change closed shop in 2018 due to non-compliance.
“A total of eight bureaux de change licenses were revoked in 2018, for various reasons, and this compares with two and six in 2017 and 2016, respectively,” said Selabe. According to BoB, five Bureaux de Change had their licenses revoked due to non-compliance with regulations, these include Travellers in Maun and Charles Hill, Simple Forex in Gaborone, Earthmark in Lobatse, Eagle Sight in Palapye and Dollar Wave in Palapye while Dubs in Lobatse, Maeto in Mahalapye and BT in Gaborone applied for voluntary closure.
“In instances of non-compliance, businesses are, as a matter of procedure, given time to regularise issues of serious concern before a licence can be revoked. For issues of less serious nature, imposed penalties include a written warning, fines and suspension of a license,” Selabe said.
Selabe said the reserve bank uses the Bank of Botswana Act, Bureaux de Change regulations and other relevant laws such as the Financial Intelligence Act and regulations to govern the issuance and regulation of a licence to operate a bureau de change business. She further said regulations details the conditions for the revocation of a licence and these include voluntary surrender and non-compliance with the Act and Regulations.
In 2017, two operators were voluntary closed, while in 2016 four were closed for non-compliance and two voluntary closed shop.
The national telco company, Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL) said its data services are on an upward spiraling growth, as customers switch from voice and SMS to more data centric usage.
Announcing its unaudited interim financial statements for six months ended last September, the company CEO, Anthony Masunga said the development is in line with market trends. “The mobile data increased by more than 100 percent from the same period last year, albeit from a low base and on lower margins compared to voice,” said Masunga. He said more innovative broadband packages are on the pipeline to grow the company’s data offerings. Though data services has shown momentous growth on BTCL operations, Masunga said fixed voice remains a significant contributor, though marginally down for the period.
The statement indicates that BTCL recorded a profit for the period under review of P86m, a 12 percent decline from P98m racked in 2016 under the same period.“The overall decline in revenue is mainly attributable to the challenges experienced in the mobile business during the first quarter of the year (between April and June 2018), we experienced some teething problems relating to migration of mobile customer to the new converged billing system,” said Masunga.
He said the challenges have been resolved paving way for launch of new innovative products and services in the data services category such as Live Social and My Conneck bundles.“We are now seeing an increased uptake of data services,” said Masunga reiterating BTCL growth in data services.
“To cater for the increased demand for data services, we will continue to make investments in enhancing the mobile and fixed broadband capabilities. We will expand 4G and FFTx networks to reach over 400 and 114 sites respectively by the end of the financial year,” said Masunga.Meanwhile, Aldrin Sivako, BTCL Chief Operations Officer told Botswana Guardian that BTCL has come up with High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that provides concentrated beams on specific locations and in the process offering high-speed broadband connectivity across the country.
“We are contributing to the National Broadband Strategy,” said Sivako, citing that BTCL exist to provide telecommunication service even to customers in remote areas.“Our customers anywhere they are should not be disadvantaged,” Sivako said and reckons it is key for BTCL to position herself through building capabilities for the future.He said BTCL is scanning the environment to harness capabilities so as to deliver digital experience and easy access to big data, the 4th industrial revolution’s target.
“There is so much data unused and as any operator, we are basically building that base, create an enabling platform for customers who may come to partner with us to leverage on this big data.”Sivako said BTCL is getting herself ready for the new developments such as the internet of things (IoT) and the machine to machine communications which are now a huge part of the current wave of industrial revolution.
“There is quite a lot that is happening even outside the telcomms space. We have become the centre, the key enabler for this and hence as an organisation, we have to position ourselves well now, not in the future,” said the COO.
Sivako highlighted that security service safe city project, e-government, remote diagnosis in the health sector and other innovation leverage on broadband.
“Everything that we are doing, we are no longer deploying narrow band systems – 2G or 3G, we have moved,” said Sivako, adding that BTCL is doing 4G in preparation for the future.Sivako said BTCL will continue to expand its network coverage and also automate its processes to improve efficiency with digital fronts, as the company endevour to be a leading telco company.
“Our benchmarks are the world’s number one such as Korea Telecommunications,” said Sivako, adding that BTCL has partnered with Korea Telecommunications as its technical partner.
Sefalana group interim profits for the period to October 2018 will be higher compared to the same period last year, it became public late Wednesday.
The group, which owns retail brands such as Shoppers and Sefalana Hyper, stated through its Finance Director, Mohamed Osman that profit before tax will be in the range of 15 percent to 25 percent which is approximately P12, 5 and P20, 8 million respectively. For the six months period to October 2017, the group which has operations in select Southern African countries made a profit before tax of P83, 1 million.
The Botswana Stock Exchange(BSE) listed company which is taking competition to troubled Choppies under its retail brand, said the results will be out by the end of January 2019. “This (the financial results) will include commentary on the drivers for the enhanced performance,” said Sefalana. The company has since cautioned investors to exercise care when dealing its securities until the results are formally announced. Presenting the group’s 2018 full year results, Chairman and former Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Managing Director, Chandra Chauhan stated they will continue to focus on core segments that generate strong returns for the Group.
“We identified the need to expand into the Region and have successfully done this through a careful and cautious expansion plan into three countries over the last four years, taking into account the impact of the various macro-economic environments and also considering the foreign exchange risk of retranslation of returns. We have made a success of our entry into Namibia and Lesotho,” said the group.
‘Our expansion into South Africa is already elevating the Group’s profitability. We are optimistic about this new territory and look to continued success in our Regional expansion strategy’