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Matambo projects strong economic recovery

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The country’s economy will accelerate by more than five percent this year, backed by strong recovery of the mining and non-mining sectors, Finance and Economic Development minister, Kenneth Matambo told legislators on Monday. Presenting the 2018/19 budget speech, the finance minister said the country’s growth of 5.3 percent in 2018, will be boosted by global economic recovery which always works in favour of the country’s mining sector, especially diamonds. On the surface, it will seem diamonds’ recovery is being sustained since last year as evidenced by good sales.

De Beers, a company owned jointly by Botswana Government and Anglo American, has seen its first sales of 2018 jumping to $665 million (about P6, 65 billion). Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Following positive early signs for diamond jewellery sales over the holiday season in the US, the need for the industry to restock led to increasing demand for our rough diamonds in the first sales cycle of 2018.

“This seasonal restocking demand does usually see a larger share of annual purchases being planned into the first sales cycle of the year by our customers, resulting in an encouraging sales performance”. Diamonds remain the country’s biggest export revenue earner by far, in the process contributing more to the country’s treasury. Matambo, whose term as finance minister is expected to lapse just before general elections next year, told the national assembly that, non-mining sector’s expected robust growth will be lifted by government’s interventions in terms of policies and strategies meant to diversify the economy. Impacts of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) are expected to be felt across the economy in the short to medium term.

The ESP was launched some three years ago to jack up the economy by investing in high-return projects across all sectors. While the minister is bullish of the year ahead, Economic Research Manager at First National Bank (FNB) Botswana, Moatlhodi Sebabole is less buoyant. “As FNBB, we forecast a growth rate of 1.7 percent for 2017 and 3.2 percent for 2018 – way below the forecasts by the finance ministry,” he told Botswana Guardian last week.

“We are cautiously optimistic in our growth estimates due to the structural make-up of the economy which remains mineral-led and has limited multiplier effect on employment creation and enhanced productivity”. Meanwhile, Matambo said more efforts would be channeled towards economic diversification, which includes improving ease of doing business and the development and maintenance of economic infrastructure. “With regard to the ease of doing business, Government remains committed to improving the country’s ranking as it affects its ability to attract foreign direct investment, which is necessary for growth and economic diversification,” stated Matambo.

As far as development of economic infrastructure is concerned, government will spend a significant amount of the 2018/19 budget in funding energy, water and information and technology infrastructure.

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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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