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.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.
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