Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.
She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.
“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.
She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.
She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala
Poor yields affect CEDA repayments-Thamane
Drought has hindered Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency’s (CEDA) intentions to increase its investment support to Mosi/Sedibeng Block farmers.
CEDA Chief Executive, Thabo Thamane, disclosed during the annual Mosisedi Harvest Day last week, regretting the Agency’s failure to support Mosi/Sedibeng Block farmers. “Our plan as CEDA was to increase this investment as we aid farmers in improving their farming techniques, however the plans have not materialised due to reduced output which resulted in failure by most farmers to honour their obligations with us,” said Thamane.
Over the years, government’s owned financial agency has invested over P61.4 million in the Mosi/Sedibeng Block for farm development, machinery acquisition and working capital. According to Thamane, during the current season -2018/19, the Agency invested P8.8m as compared to P9.6m in 2017/18 for working capital. Thamane said the phenomenon is not unique to the Mosi/Sedibeng Block, as farmers across the country are facing the same challenges. “CEDA has measures in place to assist farmers, which include, restructuring of loans for those farmers that could not pay their installments due to losses associated with adverse weather conditions,” said Thamane.
In addition, CEDA continues to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders, provide free business advisory services to farmers as well as encourage linkages across the industry value chain. It also encourages farmers to subscribe to the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), which was set up by government to assist dry-land farmers with crop cover. Meanwhile, government is fast-tracking a drought management strategy and incorporating climate change interventions in agriculture in an effort to introduce drought compliant crops and livestock.
RDC complains of challenging retail property market
RDC Properties Chairman, Guido Giachetti said they continue to experience challenging trading environment on its retail segment in Botswana and Mozambique.
Despite completing the extension of the XaiXai shopping centre in Mozambique, the company indicated that there has been a setback with Botswana based large supermarket retailer not carrying out the fitting out of their unit. The development started in 2017 on the back of binding expression of interest with this retailer but they could not make a good undertaking. “We are actively sourcing another anchor tenant and remain reasonably positive for the future,” wrote Giachetti in the company’s latest annual report.
In 2016, RDC Properties indicated that the group is undertaking retail developments in two sites in Maputo, Mozambique, which would launch Choppies as the main anchor. RDC Properties owns 33 percent shareholding in XaiXai Shopping complex. The project comprises 1,539 square meters of anchor shop and 2258 square meters of line shops. The Xaixai project is accounted to the tune of USD784 000 which is 0.4 percent of the group’s investment and property portfolio prior to revaluation to be done at stabilization.
The domestic retail property market remains challenging but the group has been able to maintain the vacancy levels at a very acceptable level of 3.5 percent. However, he said in such difficult conditions the company’s portfolio remained resilient as it has a good and well-balanced income stream. “We are able to be cautiously optimistic about the year ahead as our primary focus is hands on management of the existing asset base and growing shareholder value by identifying potential developments and acquisitions of properties in sectors and geographies with good future growth,” said Giachetti.
On his part, RDC Properties Chief Executive Officer, Jacopo Pari highlighted that the trading environment was challenging in line with the region but the group showed strong resilience in its Botswana based portfolio. Rental revenue in the country was up by one percent with the tourism and hospitality sector being the largest contributor while the commercial sector along with retail has been under pressure. The industrial and residential demand was solid throughout the period.
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