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SBN no local game plan yet


by By Tirivangani Masawi


 

Standard Bank Namibia (SBN) is still to complete its touted localisation plan estimated at a cost of N$396million since last year.

SBN announced two years ago that they will cede 10% to their employees, a 3% of that going to vulnerable groups in Namibia.

To date SBN has not yet announced whether the 10% has been transferred or have they released information on which vulnerable groups they are targeting.

The hyped localisation plan is expected to come with the local entity cutting off its umbilical code from the mother bank in South Africa which has been controlling the Information Technology systems for SBN.

SBN Public Relations Manager, Rejoice Itembu told The Villager Business that the bank’s localisation plan is work in progress and they will release information about the process at a future unspecified time.

A diplomatic Itembu could not reveal progress on the issue saying, “We are still in the preparation phase and the bank will arrange for an opportunity to brief all key media partners on the progress and way forward, as promised in Walvis Bay. It is exciting times for us and we will certainly revert to you.”

Upon completion the ambitious localisation plan will not necessarily block off Namibians who tour SA from transacting but they will be treated as touring bankers subjected to rates charged on international transactions, The Villager understands.

Although the plan to cut off from the mother bank in South Africa was received well by the local market, there is still skeptism on when the bank will move in to relinquish the remaining 90% stake. 

Standard Bank Namibia is the only one of the three South African originating banks to finalise its localisation plan after Ned Bank and First National Bank of Namibia (FNB).

SBN Managing Director, Mpumzi Pupuma announced that Standard Bank will localise a good chunk of its operations and also move the payment system to Namibia about two years ago.

Pupuma late last year, reaffirmed commitment to give locals a part to play saying SBN will offload a certain unnamed stake on top of the 10% as a follow up process to localise operations of the bank.

He, however, played his cards close to his chest, coming short of revealing the exact shares the bank will release to Namibian investors.

The localisation of SBN will also come with a local listing of the entity on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX).

The move by SBN surfaced after incessant  political pressure with both Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula and Bank of Namibia Governor Ipumbu Shiimi calling for financial inclusion.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance, I-ben Nashandi said although his Ministry has not been directly dealing with the SBN issue, the transition in the banking sector is a welcome development.

‘’Efforts to localise the banking sector are good for the future and the Bank of Namibia as a regulator has done significantly well. The only problem comes with the non banking financial sector like insurances that still do their business from South Africa,’’ said Nashandi.