The Central Bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB), has urged banks to commit to partner with the government in promoting the economic well-being of far afield communities, by way of expanding access to banking services to the previously unbanked members of society.
Opening the Bank Gaborone Kang mini branch on Tuesday, BoB Governor Linah Mohohlo said a bank is, at heart, a deposit-taking institution and provides a safe home for financial savings. She added that it is accessible and helps protect the inflationary erosion of the purchasing power of savings.
She pointed out that it is also true that there are other traditional forms of saving, notably cattle and other livestock, grain and physical assets such as houses, or real estate in a broader sense.
“The Bank of Botswana also encourages banks to provide services that cater for people with special needs and requiring custom-made services suited to their specific circumstances. These include pensioners, women and the youth,” she said.
Mohohlo also believes BoB has discharged its regulatory and supervisory function well, to the extent there has not been a bank failure since its beginnings in 1975. She said it is unlike the experience in other parts of the world, including some developed countries. She added that this should reassure and encourage you to patronise banks in Botswana as exemplified by Bank Gaborone’s mini-branch in Kang.
“I note that banks have, in the past, experienced challenges relating to security and safety of mobile banking units, mini-branches and branches, due to theft and vandalism in rural and peri-urban areas,” said Mohohlo.
She further stated that Kang is strategically located along the Trans-Kalahari Highway adding that it is a stopover spot on the way to the tourist destinations of Okavango Delta and Namibia’s Swakopmund. She said it has important neighbouring villages and settlements such as Hukuntsi and further down the highway to Ghanzi. Mohohlo stated that instead of travelling close to 300kms to Ghanzi or Jwaneng for banking services, the mini-branch is a facility that will serve this community and surrounding areas directly, promptly and efficiently.
Managing Director of Bank Gaborone Andre Barnard said the bank was established eight years ago and has registered impressive expansion with its loan book increasing by leaps and bounds from P22.5 million in June 2006 to P2.5 billion in June this year. He said in the same period, deposits increased even more rapidly from P12.5 million to P3.2 billion.
“This has been possible through the opening of 7 branches, including one in Ghanzi; employment of more than 280 people, most of whom are Batswana,” he said.
He stated that the installation of 20 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and provision of electronic banking services have been part of the innovations.