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Barclays completes Absa transition

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Barclays completes Absa transition

The start of the week saw Barclays Bank Botswana finally complete its transition to Absa Bank Botswana Limited.

The name change comes almost four years after main shareholder Barclays PLC announced it was ending its presence in Africa following 100 years in the continent.

Barclays PLC, a London based lender, was a 63.2 percent majority shareholder in Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL), which in turn operated in a number of African markets such as Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.

Since the March 2016 announcement, Barclays PLC gradually reduced its controlling stake and has now become a minority shareholder.

In July 2018, Barclays changed its name back to Absa after the London bank sold the majority of its shares, which were primarily acquired by South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation.

The rebranding exercise was soon rolled out across the continent, with local operations starting their own rebranding late last year.

This came after local shareholders had in June 2019 approved changing the company’s name.

The bank also announced this week that it has obtained approval from the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) for the name change.

Despite the new look, the bank’s executives have stressed operations will continue as they did under the previous name.

According to the bank’s Public and Media Relations Manager, Spencer Moreri, the whole separation exercise for local operations cost a total of P16 million as of June 2019.

However, as the company is still on closed period, Moreri explained that the final amount spent will only be disclosed when Absa releases its financial results, which is expected to take place next month.

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IDM’s Richard Malikongwa and Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe receive top awards

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Richard Malikongwa, a seasoned Human Resource and Corporate guru who serves as IDM Regional Director and Chief Executive, was bestowed with the highest award of the Congress of “Chief Executive Officer with Human Resource Orientation”, while Botswana Country Director, Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe received the Women Super Achiever Award.

Dr Seitio-Kgokgwe is also a recipient of the 2018/2019 Global CEO Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards.

The two Executives are commended for steering transformation at IDM and taking the Institution to higher levels as evidenced by amongst others; the Institute’s exponential growth and deliberate focus on people, since assuming their roles in 2016.

Chairperson of the Institute of Development Management, Governing Body and Director of Public Service Management Naledi Mosalakatane has commended the duo for the achievement.

Mosalakatane says IDM Board and Staff are proud of their sterling job of steering IDM to greater heights, further delivering excellent results.

According to the Founder of World Sustainability Congress, Dr R. Bhatia, the CEO with HR Orientation is the highest accolade which recognizes a Chief Executive in the global scene who employs the right combination of interventions to drive business performance, who is authentic and people oriented, and aligns his diverse teams to achieve solid business results on sustainable basis.

On the other hand, Women Super Achievers award is a reflection of professional achievement by women of the world who set a big example for transformation and change. The award celebrates the most respected and much sought-after Women Leaders in the industry who contribute immensely to the field of Women Platform, as well as nurturing talent, having trained several young people to grow in their profession.

The World HRD Congress is a global event which attracts thousands of international professionals from over 100 countries around the world.

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A wealth of potential

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A wealth of potential

LLR CEO expresses confidence in local property market

Real estate giant’s Letlole La Rona (LLR) has expressed confidence in the local property market amid fears it is becoming saturated.

Speaking to Voice Money this week, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa insisted there was still potential for growth in the market, in particular in the retail sub-sector.

Early last year, LLR sold the four hotels it owned to Cresta Marakanelo, which had previously been leasing the properties.

While this impacted on LLR’s portfolio diversity, Mutiswa maintains the business is now ‘back on track’.

Appointed to the role of CEO in May 2018, Mutiswa’s first assignment was to oversee the sale of the hotels.

Having successfully achieved this, his focus is now on growing the company above the usual practice of simply ‘delivering dividends’.

“We have managed to sell the hotels and what has now happened is that we decided to do two things. The first is to double down on the industrial property space, which is a our biggest competitive advantage. We are the largest institutional industrial investor here in Botswana,” stressed the CEO.

Secondly, Mutiswa says LLR will target the retail space, a strategy they have already started with the recent acquisition of Watershed Mall in Mahalapye.

“We are involved in developments including one retail mall here in Gaborone and we will be announcing it shortly. Previously our only retail exposure was the Blue Jacket Street in Francistown where we had a one-third partnership.”

Mutiswa further explained that as the economy develops, the key component of Botswana’s GDP comes from consumers.

“As such, there is still huge potential in the retail space!” he reiterated, downplaying the notion the country has more shopping malls than it needs.

“If you are a property investor and you stay by the sidelines and say Botswana right now is saturated in terms of the retail space, you will miss the boat because 10 years back this was also the belief.”

Additionally, Mutiswa revealed LLR plan to quit the residential space imminently.

“We have one residential unit. It consists of 42 apartments and we find that it is management intensive. That asset is valued at P43 million out of the balance sheet right now of P1 billion, which is around four percent of the total portfolio.”

Although insignificant, in terms of administration Mutiswa says the property takes up around 50 percent of the company’s time.

“It is likely we will be looking to dispose of that particular asset and we do not expect to venture back into the residential market,” stated Mutiswa, adding LLR will remain focused on industrial, retail and office space.

In relation to office space, he says they will concentrate on the new Gaborone Central Business District (CBD) ‘as that is where most businesses are moving to’.

As LLR’s portfolio continues to grow locally, Mutiswa says the organisation is now considering investment opportunities outside the country.

“If you look at the other five listed property companies, it is only LLR which doesn’t have regional exposure.”

He points out the company has made significant inroads and the expectation is to close a regional expansion transaction during the course of this year.

“It has taken a bit longer than we would have liked. In a way that is positive because in any investment, what determines the profit or return on investment is not the quality of the asset or income you get from that asset, it is the price at which you got it!” he noted.

According to Mutiswa, the company is looking at markets such as South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

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The Power of now

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The Power of Now

Key decisions needed regarding power generation in Botswana

2020 is set to be a landmark year for Botswana in terms of investing in electricity production.

According to the latest economic review from research specialists Econsult, this year the country must decide the path it intends to take for future power generation.

While it is appreciated that the new capacity is not needed anytime soon, economists warn that key decisions need to be taken now as energy generation investments are large and take years to implement.

The big question, according to the review, is whether the country intends to continue to rely on coal as its main source of energy or switch to large-scale solar power generation.

Since it started producing its own power, Botswana has been heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations for energy.

Having established the 132Megawatt (MW) Morupule A Power Station back in 1989, by 2014 the country, through the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), commissioned a larger power station, Morupule B at a capacity of 600MW.

However, the two have never been enough to meet local demand as the country still imports a considerable portion of its power.

According to the Econsult report, electricity consumption in Botswana has been increasing at an average of 4.6 percent a year over a three-decade period from 1989 to 2018.

It is for this reason that a number of options are proposed for Botswana to consider, the most prominent being solar power generation.

Although the country experiences sunlight all year round, solar energy remains largely unexplored in Botswana.

“Most current solar power initiatives are private and small-scale, mostly in off-grid locations such as farms and safari camps,” notes Econsult.

Plans have been in the pipeline since 2017 to develop two 50MW solar generation facilities to supply power to the national grid. However, neither initiative has got past the tender stage.

Indeed, although solar energy presents a huge opportunity for the country to attain self-sustenance, it is believed there is still preference for coal-fired power station. Experts point to the proposed 300MW Morupule B Units 5/6 Project as evidence of such a mindset.

Econsult believe going with another coal-fired power plant would be inconsistent with Botswana’s Climate Change Strategy.

Another option available for the country is to explore is Coal-Bed Methane (CBM). There are already projects in the pipeline, with Tlou Energy at an advanced stage with its CBM project.

Econsult has urged government to choose quickly where its next 300MW of power will come from.

It has, however, warned that choosing coal over solar power runs the risk of being ‘backward-looking’ rather than anticipating likely technical, economic and political changes over the next two decades.

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