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Tue, 13 Aug 2019
Red carpet for Botswana investors

Botswana has promised to roll out the red carpet for investors, urging them not to be discouraged by its small population from doing business in the country because decent returns are part of the package.

Speaking at the official opening of the 14th Global Expo Botswana in the capital city Gaborone this week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said his country was making conditions conducive for investors.

“The World Bank’s Doing Business Report of this year has placed Botswana at number five in the Ease of Doing Business rankings in sub-Saharan Africa. We continue to review and make strategic reforms to improve the ease of doing business and the competitive environment to facilitate the growth of local business as well as to attract foreign direct investment. These reforms include, among others, the continued streamlining and automation of our processes in areas of company registration, construction permits and cross border trade,” Masisi said.

“We have eased entry into Botswana through the introduction of visas on arrival as well as instituting changes on acquisition of permanent residence.”

The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), a government agency set up to attract investors and promote the landlocked country as a brand, also promised to make life as easy as possible for investors.

The agency said that, among the range of services it offers, it would help investors with tax clearance, company registration and even the opening of bank accounts, saying all these were “facilitated from our one-stop services centre”.

Keletsositse Olebile, head of the BITC, described the agency as a “premier agency for the government of Botswana in terms of rolling out the red carpet for investors … We’re a country of 2.26 million people.

“Sometimes Botswana is judged in terms of its small population but if you look at every policy that this government has put in place, it’s really to enable you to utilise our long-standing desirable factors such as prudent microeconomic stability, low corruption and the central location in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to really be able to use the country as a launch pad into the whole of the region,” Olebile said.

He said Botswana “doesn’t have exchange controls, you don’t have to apply for externalisation of your funds”.

“We’re also putting together a list of compelling incentives; our tax rate is already 22% but we found strategic sectors that we have further incentivised to 15% – that is in the manufacturing space, international financial services space as well as in the innovation hub space,” Olebile said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a discussion session, former Botswana president Festus Mogae said there were hindrances to integration in the SADC region. Mogae said African heads of states, including those in the SADC region, were signing agreements with good intentions but these were never implemented or even followed up on.

David Magang, a former Cabinet minister in Botswana, reiterated this.

He said the dream for an integrated SADC region with relaxed immigration laws so citizens could easily move from one country to the next was never realised.


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Wed, 07 Aug 2019
Africa-wide free-trade agreement receives major boost

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has provided a $4.8m grant to support the African Union’s (AU’s) efforts to roll out the continental free-trade area.

The grant forms part of a series of interventions by the development bank to accelerate implementation of the free-trade agreement. The trade agreement is seen as a major force for integrating the 55-nation continent and transforming its economy.

Intra-African trade remains low compared with other major regions such as the EU and Asia.

In 2018, SA joined various other countries on the continent in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement that aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspeople and investments. With about 1.2-billion people on the continent, the agreement is set to create one of the largest free-trade markets in the world.

Albert Muchanga, the AU’s commissioner for trade & industry, said the AfDB  grant would be used for the delivery of various protocols relating to the structure and mandate of the AfCFTA secretariat.

The trade agreement is expected to expand intra-African trade by up to $35bn per year, ease movement of goods, services and people across the continent’s borders and boost agriculture and industrial exports by 7% and 5% respectively.

Speaking on behalf of the AfDB’s director of industrial & trade development department, Obed Andoh Mensah said the trade deal will help stabilise African countries, allow small- and medium-sized enterprises to flourish, promote industrialisation and lift millions out of poverty.

“If the AfCFTA is complemented by trade facilitation reforms, reduction in nontariff barriers, improved infrastructure and policy measures to encourage employment and private sector investments, it will stimulate poverty reduction and socioeconomic development across Africa,” he said.


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Tue, 23 Jul 2019
PepsiCo eyes growth in Africa with $1.7bn Pioneer Foods acquisition...

Multinational snack foods and beverage giant PepsiCo has entered into an agreement to acquire South Africa’s Pioneer Foods Group for approximately $1.7 billion (R23.5 billion). The New York-based food giant – owner of brands like Pepsi, Lay’s and Doritos – will acquire all outstanding shares of Pioneer Food Group for R110 per share. The transaction is one of PepsiCo’s largest acquisitions outside of the United States.

“Pioneer Foods has a robust, locally relevant product portfolio that complements PepsiCo’s current lineup, with strong positions in cereals, juices, and other African nutritional food staples, including well-known, scaled brands like Weet-Bix, Liqui-Fruit, Ceres, Sasko, Safari, Spekko, and White Star. At the same time, this acquisition will help PepsiCo gain a solid beachhead for expansion into sub-Saharan Africa by boosting the company’s manufacturing and go-to-market capabilities, enabling scale and distribution,” PepsiCo said in a statement this morning.

Pioneer Foods exports to more than 80 countries and posted revenue of R20.2 billion in 2018.

Scaling sub-Saharan business

PepsiCo chairman and CEO, Ramon Laguarta commented, “As we look to accelerate our growth in key markets around the world and achieve our vision to ‘Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose’, we are absolutely thrilled to join forces with Pioneer Foods, one of South Africa’s leading food and beverage companies.”

PepsiCo is already represented in SA by brands including Simba, Nik Naks, Lays, Doritos, Pepsi and 7UP. Pioneer Foods represents a differentiated opportunity for PepsiCo, allowing it to immediately scale its business in Africa. According to Laguarta, the South African company forms an important part of PepsiCo’s strategy to not only expand in South Africa, but further into sub-Saharan Africa.

Socioeconomic commitments

This transaction creates a leading food and beverage company in Africa led from South Africa, with a commitment to supporting the broad socioeconomic imperatives of employment, talent development, and benefiting local suppliers, PepsiCo said. The global food giant plans to expand its Sustainable Farming Program in Africa and work with local farmers in Pioneer Foods’ communities – including women and rural smallholders – “to help boost yields, improve livelihoods, and preserve precious natural resources”.

“PepsiCo is keenly aware of the importance of economic transformation through Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (“BEE”) and intends to support Pioneer Foods’ BEE programme,” the company added.

“Today’s announcement marks a very exciting milestone for Pioneer Foods and our people, and highlights the strength of what we have created,” said Tertius Carstens, CEO of Pioneer Foods. “As part of PepsiCo, we will have greater scale to expand our leading brands, greater capital to invest in local agriculture and people, greater access to leading global capabilities and a partner committed to taking our company to even greater heights.”

Regional operating centre

As part of this transaction and PepsiCo’s goal to “become faster and more locally-focused”, the company will create a new operating sector for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). PepsiCo SSA will be led by Eugene Willemsen, who most recently served as executive vice president of Global Categories & Franchise Management.

Willemsen, who has been with PepsiCo for nearly 25 [...]

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