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StanChart delights in digital competitiveness

Keikantse Lesemela

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While the banking sector continues to experience depressed trading conditions and tight competition in Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana has shown that innovation and technology products are key to the bank’s growth and sustainability.

Head of Retail Banking, Pedzani Tafa said the bank is offering its customers a world-class digital banking experience. The Global Finance has recently awarded the bank, the best Consumer Digital Bank. The prestigious award was one of 23 awards that Standard Chartered Bank won for numerous digital initiatives across its global footprint. “This award is further confirmation that it is indeed market-leading. As we continue to enhance our digital platforms in Botswana, building on the exciting innovations that were launched at our first fully digital bank in Cote d’Ivoire, we are confident that this award will be repeated for more years to come,” said Tafa. The Global Finance awards are an annual recognition of the best financial institutions around the world. These awards have become recognised and trusted standard of excellence.

For his remarks, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana Head of Digital Banking, Oaipetla Fantan added that the platform would only continue to offer greater reach and functionality for the Bank’s customers, “Our digital platforms are dynamic by nature, with each passing month, the platform continues to offer our clients newer features, greater convenience and have reduced the need to walk into our branches.

This year we have bridged the gap between bank accounts and mobile wallets, introduced the 360o Rewards platform, introduced online debit and credit card activations. We have also offered enhanced security features with the addition of Face ID login.

Looking into 2019, there are more exciting enhancements for payment options that we will be rolling out to our customers as they complete their testing phases.”However, in its half-year end June results this year, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana recorded an increase in profits to P28 million after experiencing a decline in profits for about three years.Presenting the results recently the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mpho Masupe said even though the commercial bank registered profit, business has not been good during the first six months of the year as they would have expected it to be.

“We have been operating in an environment which has been benign to put it slightly, to an extent that you would have known that the economy only grew by 2.4 percent for the whole of 2017 which was not expected and therefore demonstrating exactly what was happening in the business environment that year.” said Masupe, adding that they are cautious in terms of extending credit.

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‘Manufacturing holds key to economic growth’

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Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.

She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.

“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.

She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.

She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala

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MINISTER BEWAILS BAD REPAYMENT BY YOUTH

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama has told parliament his ministry continues to face challenges on the repayment of Youth Development Fund (YDF) loans.

Recently presenting the budget to Parliament, Khama said this financial year the ministry has received a total of 2582 YDF applications and approved 983of them to the value of P98 million. He said the programme attracts a high level of interest from youth but the ministry is only limited to funding a maximum of 1200 youth projects annually due to budget limitations.

“However the greatest challenge for the Fund is the repayment of the loan component by the majority of the youth businesses. The youth have advanced number of challenges for this including high rentals for operating spaces, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities,” said Tshekedi, adding that they continue to pursue beneficiaries to repay the loans.

Out of the 919 businesses funded 1058 jobs have been created. The minister highlighted that disbursements of funds will continue to be undertaken until the end of the financial year. “The YDF is currently under review in line with the pronouncement made by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in the State of the Nation Address, to improve beneficiaries through training, and encourage consortia and cooperatives,” said Tshekedi.

The ministry assists YDF beneficiaries in marketing their products and services through fairs and exhibitions. The ministry also runs entrepreneurship-training seminars for youth and in the past year 3692 young people were trained. Over 600 youth businesses attended fairs and exhibitions to market their products and services. Currently the ministry is collaborating with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), First National Bank Botswana and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) on training in entrepreneurship development and mentorship of YDF beneficiaries.

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