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Botswana Post ups the ante on its property portfolio

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BotswanaPost’s corporate objective of unlocking value from its property portfolio remains top priority; as it continues to diversify its revenue streams as a strategy under guard to move towards self-sustenance, Business Trends has learnt.

As a result of the lack of recapitalisation funding, which has stifled the BotswanaPost business initiative and prospective ventures especially in implementing the property strategy – that has been ready since 2012 – the property segment has been lagging behind.

Responding to Business Trends inquiries around the portfolio, BotswanaPost’s Head of Corporate Communications, Lebogang Bok said they have now adopted a double pronged approach to look for recapitalisation from the shareholders as well as leveraging other partnerships.

This takes into account the negative impact the recent recession has had on government coffers, and the sheer size of government responsibility. “By nature, property development requires a huge initial capital outlay. Given the well documented shareholder funding challenges not only to BotswanaPost, the immediate and realistic option is to aggressively pursue leverage of partnerships on properties which the Government vested to Botswana Postal Services back in 1989 and registering newly acquired land with Deeds Registry,” she indicated.  

Upon concluding with partners, Bok revealed that implementation of the property strategy is expected to accrue short term gains annually from ground rental and in the long term realise full value when the property reverts to Botswana Postal Services. In its 2014/15 annual report, the then BotswanaPost Chief Executive Officer, Pele Moleta indicated that they had taken stock of all their properties in the country.

It became evident that in some localities BotswanaPost is sitting on high value commercial land that could be developed when funding is available. “We have explored other avenues of developing property without relying on government but realised that this option carries increased risks.

And unless we are in a position to negotiate with prospective partners from a position of strength; it would be preferable to shelve these projects for the time being,” Moleta indicted in the report.

BotswanaPost’s assets recorded an 8 percent decline to P433.7milllion in the financial year 2014/15 from P473.5million in the prior year; whilst in 2012 the assets sat at P340.3million.

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BSE complies with reporting guidelines

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Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has become the 5th bourse in Africa to comply and publish Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting guidelines.

The development comes a year after BSEL became a partner exchange of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) Initiative.“The BSE made a commitment to publish guidance on ESG Reporting. This commitment has been fulfilled.“

We are the 42nd among the 81 SSE Partner Exchanges globally and the 5th in Africa to do this,” said Kgotla Segwe, Market Development Specialist at Botswana Stock Exchange Limited.
Other stock exchanges that have complied with the SSE initiative on the continent are from South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt.

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Mobile operators look to digital inclusion

Keikantse Lesemela

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Mascom MD Jose Couciero.

Mascom Chief Executive, Jose Couciero said they are looking into digital inclusion as the potential source of revenue growth because mobile subscription is no longer a major driver.

Botswana has one of the highest records of mobile penetration in Africa at 176 percent, Internet users’ stand at 21.4 percent while the fixed line telephony services stand at 8.2 percent. “As the Botswana mobile market evolves, we observe that mobile subscriber growth alone is no longer a major driver for revenue growth. Rather, the potential for the market is in digital inclusion through access to mobile and fixed broadband,” Couciero.

He said they have invested significantly in deploying their own transmission backbone and Metropolitan fibre rings to prepare their business to enter the residential markets with bundle offers of Internet, voice and content. “I am excited to confirm that we now offer fixed broadband services using both fibre and 4.5G wireless technology. These technologies offer high speed internet for TV live streaming and online games without interruptions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) observed the increased usage of social media platforms which has negatively affected the traditional voice call services resulting in decreased turnover for the company. Recently, BTCL Managing Director, Anthony Masunga also highlighted that competition in the telecommunications sector continued to intensify with the entry of new internet service providers leading to a downward pressure on prices.

On the other hand, another competitor, Orange Botswana is currently constructing a data centre which will enable the company to offer telecommunication and internet services without interruptions. The Orange Data Centre will cover 81% of the population with the 2G technology, 62% of the population with 3G technology and 45% of the population with 4G technology, offering the greater levels of security, flexibility and accessibility to data and information around the world.

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