Demand for credit is flagging among the country’s chief financial officers (CFOs), with majority of those polled companies expecting to increase borrowing in 2023 to support investments.
The quarterly survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (the Bank), collects information from a sample of 100 businesses from the thirteen economic sectors, with respondents sharing perceptions about the health of the economy and expectations by responding to questions on, among others: the prevailing business climate; outlook for economic growth and inflation; and business performance in the survey horizon. The response rate for the current survey was 54 percent compared to 57 percent in the third quarter survey.
According to the latest quarterly Business Expectation Survey carried by the Bank of Botswana (BoB), local firms expect lending rates in Botswana to increase in the 12 months period to December 2023. Despite the anticipated increase in lending rates, some of the CFOs in leading forms also expect borrowing volumes to expand, consistent with the expected rise in investment. The anticipated increase in investment is supported by the anticipated improvement in domestic economic performance during the period. In the same survey, firms said that they were optimistic about business conditions in the country for the first quarter, forecasting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to expand by 3.9 percent between January and March, higher than their expected growth of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
“Approximately 43 percent of the surveyed firms indicated that their choice of where to borrow was predicated on accessibility, while 24 percent indicated that their borrowing decisions were influenced by affordability of appropriate credit facilities”, reads part of the BoB Survey summary.
Recession threats wiped out…
Botswana staved off the threat of recession in the third quarter of 2022 with a modest growth in GDP.
In the world of economics, a recession occurs when an economy experiences two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDPs. In the case of Botswana, the real GDP expanded by 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022, before slowing to 5.8 percent growth in the second quarter, and picked up to 6.3 percent in the third quarter.
According to Statistics Botswana’s latest GDP data report, GDP growth in the third quarter was anchored by the water and electricity sector which experienced a significant boost, with growth of 35.1 percent. The diamond trade also saw a substantial increase, rising by 28.5 percent. All other sectors of the economy averaged 1.9 percent of growth, except for the agriculture sector which grew by 0.4 percent.
A breakdown of the of the top contributors to the local economy pegs mining and quarrying at 18.5 percent while the public administration and defence sits at 16.3 percent, wholesale and retail at 10.8 percent, construction at 10.6 percent, and wrapping up the top five list is manufacturing sector at 5.5 percent.
The Finance ministry expects GDP to grow by 4.2 percent this year, lower than the 12.5 percent growth recorded last year. From 2017 to 2021, Botswana’s economic growth rate averaged 2.8 percent over the five year period. The Finance ministry officials say the economy needs to grow by at least 5.7 percent annually for the country to move from middle income to high income status by the year 2036. However, the domestic economy remains vulnerable to external shocks due to its narrow economic base. The central bank has in the past said that a more successful transition and adaptation to the digital economy has the potential to cure the perennial economic challenges of Botswana, namely, narrow economic base, unemployment and unequal distribution of income.