The Projects Issue 1 Vol 4

Welcome to the February- March edition of The Projects Magazine. The year 2024 will be filled with scores of crucial events, including general elections towards the dawn of the year. We should therefore look ahead with great anticipation.  

In this edition, we feature the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) after an exclusive interview with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keletsositse Olebile. Established in 2012 through the merger of Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA) and International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), BITC has been tasked with attracting both foreign and domestic investment, promoting exports, and enhancing Botswana’s image as a competitive destination in Africa.

BITC’s track record is impressive, with investments worth over 28 billion Pula flowing into the country since its inception. These investments, comprising foreign direct investment (FDI), domestic investments, and expansions, have not only bolstered Botswana’s economy but also led to the creation of over 29,000 jobs, surpassing initial targets. Additionally, BITC’s efforts have contributed to export earnings worth 23.249 billion Pula over the past decade, highlighting its significant role in driving Botswana’s economic growth.

On the back on the new deal between the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group, the Jwaneng Underground project is taking shape. The project will ensure that mining continues at Jwaneng Mine beyond 2035. Debswana on the 10th of January 2024 announced that its Board has approved the commencement of the Jwaneng Underground Project’s crucial phase, the Exploration Access Development at a cost of P13.6 Billion.

The Jwaneng Underground Project is implemented in four phases; being, Early Works (which started in 2022); Exploration Access Development, Phase 1 Mining and Phase 2 Mining.The Board’s approval for the second phase marks a significant milestone, initiating the journey towards underground mining at Jwaneng Mine. The Exploration Access Development will commence in May 2024. The entire project is estimated to cost tens of billions of pulas, to build the biggest underground diamond mine ever, the likes of which the world has never seen before

However, there are challenges that continue to persist, particularly within the diamond industry, a cornerstone of Botswana’s economy. The industry experienced significant downturn in revenue in 2023, with industry giants like De Beers and Lucara reporting declines in earnings. Factors such as sluggish economic recovery in China, inflation and interest rates in the U.S, competition from lab-grown diamonds, and cautious consumer spending have contributed to the industry’s woes. Recovery in the diamond sector is expected in 2024, while growth is projected by 2025.

Despite a decline in revenue in the diamond industry, the economy is not in trouble yet. De Beers’ broader contribution to Botswana increased to P15.6 billion. The Ministry of Finance is proposing to spend a record P102 billion in the 2024/25 financial year, which aims to boost Botswana’s economic growth. The proposed expenditure has received the backing of the Bank of Botswana (BoB), the main advisor to the government on economic matters and the guardian of the country’s monetary policy.

As Botswana embarks on an expansionary budget aimed at stimulating economic growth, effective implementation will be crucial as stated by the Bank of Botswana Governor Cornelius Dekop at the launch of the 2024 Monetary Policy Statement on 21 February 2024. The backing of the BoB underscores confidence in the government’s fiscal measures.

On the local bourse, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), the country’s biggest commercial bank continues to deliver mouth-watering performance figures, setting new records year-in year-out.

On 20th February at the presentation of its financial results for the half year (six months) ended 31st December 2023, FNBB reported a whooping P879 million profit before tax, reflecting a 28% growth year-on-year from P686 million recorded at half year Dec 2022. 

While Sefalana Group, the biggest retail giant has once again posted record result for its half year trading period. Sefalana reported P205 million profit-before-tax for its 26 weeks’ period ended 29 October 2023, a 5% increase on the prior period.   

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