Sunday, October 17, 2021

Botswana lags behind on individual wealth indicators ÔÇô SB

The national statistics agency, Statistics Botswana (SB) has observed in its latest population & Housing census analytical report that the use of assets as a wealth indicator is not well established in the country.

The agency has said that while this pattern is observed in the literature, little (or no) evidence exists in Botswana for utilizing assets to inform welfare status.

The agency’s analytical report therefore sought to fill the gap and posits among other things that income from employment is likely to improve ownership of asset status. It would appear however that employment currently remains a mirage, a factor that makes the topic of the rich and poor gain more ground of relevance.

SB suggests the need to consider economic and social forces that contribute to assets inequality on the basis that at times poverty eradication measures would be based on individuals’ ability to accumulate productive assets. “The problem of income inequality might be exacerbated by unequal distribution of income generating assets, hence the need for consideration of assets,” it says. It deems this necessary in addressing the multidimensionality of poverty.

The analytical report has been followed by a recent article published by Forbes Magazine which named Botswana’s five individuals with Ultra high Net Worth.

While this is a common practice in developed countries, the compilation of multi-millionaires is not a familiar observation locally, hence making it a subject of interest.

In its article, Forbes listed the assets owned by the five multi-millionaires whilst at the same time demonstrating the reason each earned a spot in the list. Abdul Satar Dada, Gulaam Hussain Abdoola, Chandrakanth Chauhan, Ramachandran Ottapathu and Farouk Essop Ismail are currently under the country’s wealth radar, identified by Forbes.

The article outlines the multi-millionaires as follows; Abdul Satar Dada is the founder of Associated Investment Development Corporation (AIDC), a conglomerate with interests in motor vehicle dealerships, printing and publishing, steel manufacturing, property, agribusiness and telecommunications. He is also is the treasurer of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. Gulaam Hussain Abdoola founded Turnstar Holdings,a diversified regional sub-Saharan African property loan stock company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. He has 15.7 percent stake in the company which is valued at more than $25 million. Chandrakanth Chauhan is the CEO and largest individual shareholder of Sefalana Group, the first company to get listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. He owns a 4.5 percent stake in the company which is valued at more than $12 million. Ramachandran Ottapathu is the CEO of Choppies, Botswana’s largest retailer with more than 170 stores in Botswana as well as regional presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania. He owns a 19.5 percent stake in Choppies which is valued at more than $60 million. Ismail is a co-founder and Deputy Chairman of Choppies. He owns a 14.6 percent stake in the listed retailer which is valued at more than $45 million. Ismail also owns a 39.5 percent stake in Far Property Company Limited, a public traded real estate development and Asset Management company located in Botswana.

The interest of this subject is in the fact that naming the multi-millionaires puts a face to the crude divide between the rich and the poor which Botswana is marred with. Botswana is counted among the countries in the world with the highest unequal distribution of wealth, measured statistically with a Gini-coefficient of 0.61 percent. The reality is that the few Ultra high Net Worth individuals are a mere drop in the masses of people that today are subjected to the harsh life of poverty. 

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