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Sub-Saharan Gloom

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Moody’s predict bad outlook for region

Credit Ratings and Research Agency, Moody’s has predicted tough times ahead for the Sub-Saharan region in terms of sovereign credit worthiness*.

A report published this week by the American-based Investors Service states that its 2020 outlook for sovereign credit worthiness remains negative.

Moody’s attributes this to the limited progress made in reducing risk related to increased debt burdens (a large amount of money that a country owes to another which they are struggling to repay)and debt servicing.

“While growth will remain solid, it will not meaningfully buttress income nor increase economic resilience,” predicts the respected institution, further adding that the external environment is becoming increasingly unpredictable, which aggregates existing challenges.

The rating agency warns even with the region not highly integrated into the global economy through direct trade linkages, it remains exposed through its sensitivity to changes in commodity prices and financial conditions.

“The limited capacity of most governments to respond to even modest negative external shocks exacerbates the region’s sensitivity to the more negative global environment,” it states.

Moody’s Investors service has identified three key areas which underpin its negative outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

These are: worsening external environment, weak government finances and subdued GDP growth.

It is reported weak government finances will continue to pose a constraint, with the rise in debt and interest burdens since 2015 having weakened the fiscal profiles of most Sub-Saharan region sovereigns.

“We expect modest fiscal consolidation for the region, with the median fiscal deficit improving to 3 percent of GDP in 2020 compared with 3.3 percent in 2019,” continues the report, further adding that while this will allow debt burdens to stabilize, fiscal profiles will remain weak overall and leave SSA sovereigns with limited capacity to employ counter fiscal policies.

The region’s debt burden is expected to decline to 51 percent of GDP this year from 54.5 seen in 2019. However, it remains significantly higher than the 40.4 percent recorded five years ago.

While there are some intra-regional differences, including Botswana, whose debt burden remains low, the general trend, according to Moody’s, implies that Sub Saharan African countries have less fiscal spaces to absorb future shocks.

Regarding GDP growth, the international rating agency predicts GDP will remain steady, but will not meaningfully buttress per capita incomes or support fiscal consolidation.

“We expect economic growth to accelerate modestly, with regional real GDP growth rising to 3.5 percent in 2020, compared with 3.1 percent in 2019,” says Moody’s.

It further outlines that the regional average is weighed down by sluggish growth in the region’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, while growth in the rest of SSA will accelerate to 5.3 percent, albeit with significant variations by sub-region and economic structure.

It is alsoenvisioned that there will be a recovery in growth for commodity exporters. This is anticipated to be robust in non-energy commodity exporters like Niger, Ghana and Botswana.

A sovereign credit rating is an independent assessment of the creditworthiness of a country or sovereign entity.

Sovereign credit ratings can give investors insights into the level of risk associated with investing in the debt of a particular country/region including any political risk

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Cheerful

    January 30, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    The other issue could be the way corruption is being handled in the region all the people at top exchanges hands with each other and leaving the ordinary people out? Failing to pay back debts is another issue that is not taken seriously by those at the very top

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Business

FNBB announces loan repayment holiday for customers

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In response to damage caused by the Covid-19 virus, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) has announced a cashflow relief for its eligible customers with a good track record of honouring heir repayments.

The relief, the bank said, is available to both retail and commercial customers for a period of three months, from April to June.

In retail, the relief applies to home loans, personal loans and WesBank loans while for the SME customers the relief applies to commercial property finance, vehicle and asset finance and term loans.

SME businesses with an annual turnover up to P10 million and an initial loan amount not exceeding P5 million will benefit from this relief program.

In addition to loan repayment holidays, the bank has in some instances introduced zero rate on some payments on digital banking channels and some of the payments that will be done for free until end of April are payments made on Mobile banking app; payments made on mobile banking; and cash withdrawal made through Cash@Till.

For the months of may and June, the bank says FNBB App payments, mobile payments and cash@Till will be offered at a 25 percent discount on the current fee and the bank hopes these measures will help ease customers’ financial constraints until things stabilise.

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Business

ABSA in the money

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Bank registers 15 percent profit increase

Two months after its official name change, Absa Bank Botswana has announced a 15 percent jump in profits.

This week, the bank’s Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane revealed that despite the challenges faced by the industry, Absa registered profit after tax of P678 million for the 12-month period ending 31 December 2019.

Highlighting the bank’s success, Finance Director, Mumba Kalifungwa explained it continued on a forward momentum of driving interest income growth through prudent lending across all segments.

“On a gross basis, interest income was up by 10 percent year-on-year (YoY). However, market liquidity in the year was thin and this resulted in increased costs of funds,” he said, adding overall net interest income increased by six percent.

Furthermore, according to Kalifungwa, Absa’s net trading remained flat despite an increase in trading volumes.

“This was due to the tough trading conditions and the global geo political challenges experienced in the year. To this end, in 2019 our net fee and commission income as a portion of total income represented 35 percent of total revenue which resonates with our strategy to diversify our revenue mix,” he said.

When it comes to credit losses or impairments, the bank’s expected year-on-year credit losses decreased by 64 percent in comparison to the prior period.

Kalifungwa attributed this to the Absa’s enhanced collections capability, conservative credit extension to high risk sectors especially in the Retail segment as well as significant recovery from one of their clients.

HAPPY BANKER: Kalifungwa

The Finance Director added that as they continue to pursue growth the overall balance sheet grew by 11 percent, ending the year at a whopping P18 billion.

“For the year under review, our customer loans and advances grew by 13 percent compared to market growth of 7.7 percent. This was achieved by growth in all our segments in line with our growth strategy,” he explained, noting the main driver behind the balance sheet’s growth continues to be loans and advances and customer liabilities which remain key drivers of the bank’s total revenue.

During the period, Absa’s loans and advances to customers increased by 13 percent YoY to P13billion.

“The growth was fairly distributed across the segments in line with our strategy and continues to be focused around prudent lending in our chosen business segments,” Kalifungwa concluded.

Meanwhile, the bank has set aside a total of P231 million as dividends for the year, with shareholders set to receive 25 Thebe per share.

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