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BTCL loses P370 million in assets impairment

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Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited has recorded a loss of over P300million in the 2015/16 financial year.

BTCL, the first parastatal to be privatised under the Botswana Privatisation Policy acknowledges that 2015/16 was a challenging year for the company performance-wise.

Despite the company delivering a steady set of results, registering 0.4 percent growth in revenue, it registered a loss of P371million due to asset impairment.
BTCL’s chairperson, Daphne Matlakala however explains that, “It is imperative to put the reported loss into perspective. 

This is not operational loss; it is a loss resultant from an impairment charge. i.e. an adjustment of the value of the company’s asset base to align it to its value generating ability. At year end, the carrying value of the company’s assets was higher than its value generating ability.”

The company disclosed the need to make this adjustment in the prospectus; the adjustment was estimated at P306 million for the year, but the actual adjustment at year end was P522 million, resulting in a much higher than expected loss of P371 million compared to the projected loss of P128 million.

Excluding the impairment charge, the company registered a profit before tax of P54 million. The adjustment was necessary to position the company for profitability in the future because by making the adjustment now means future profits will not be hit by higher levels of depreciation or significant levels of impairments.

Despite the reported loss, the Board recommended a dividend of 5 thebe per share; representing a dividend yield of 5 percent on the company’s listing price of Pula 1.00, over 3 months since listing. Matlakala notes that, BTCL is able to pay dividends on the back of cash generated for the year 2015/16 and accumulated profits from previous years. She adds that, the company’s cash position is very strong, allowing for focused, revenue generating investment going forward.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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