Bank of Baroda last week opened their doors to the Francistown business community for the first time in a ceremony that was largely attended by members of the Indian community in the city. The Francistown branch is the bank’s 64th overseas branch.
The move is largely regarded as the bank’s response to the recent heightening of economic prospects in areas in and around Francistown, largely due to the mining boom in the city, a development that has seen economic developments booming in the city, real estates prices skyrocketing and a lot of businesses moving to open branches in the second city.
The move by Bank of Baroda is also largely regarded as a response to initiatives by other banking institutions to establish a tangible presence in Francistown. Bank Gaborone recently installed automatic teller machines in strategic centers through out the city while Botswana Savings Bank is also reportedly making concerted efforts to open a branch in Francistown. Meanwhile First National Bank has secured a plot in the city’s business district from real estate magnates Tati Company on which they intend to establish their second headquarters.
Officially opening the Francistown branch, the Botswana Managing Director D. Mitra said that the event was especially blessed as it coincided with the bank’s centenary celebrations. He traced the Bank of Baroda’s history to its first branch in India in 1908 from which the bank grew to become an internationally acclaimed institution with a presence the world over.
He explained that the Bank of Baroda has the highest and most acclaimed presence in India and it has made inroads into the African market with branches in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.
Mitra highlighted the fact that both the Francistown and Gaborone customers will have online access to all their services, adding that even though the bank has made great strides in improving customer service more remains to be done through innovative technological improvements.
He said that in its seven years in existence in Botswana Bank of Baroda has enjoyed tremendous support from the local business community and they are making strides to introduce new products kike ATM’s, internet banking and others.
The arrival of Bank of Baroda into Botswana’s banking industry was hailed as a milestone that would enhance competition and encourage industry players to introduce more customer friendly and affordable services. Though the bank has had some run-ins with authorities, especially over training and localization, at some point misleading Assistant Labour Minister Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, Mitra said that their stay in Botswana has been enjoyable and fruitful.