The Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has emphasised the importance of financial inclusion for all Namibians in line with the Financial Sector Strategy launched in 2012.
The strategy is meant to highlight specific reform areas and one of these is an inclusive financial system for Namibia.
The target as set out in the strategy is to reduce the lack of access to financial services and products to 26% of economically active Namibians from the initial baseline of 51.7% by the year 2021. “The good news is that, commendable progress has been made so far resulting from an improvement in financial inclusion reaching 69% of the population” the minister said.
The minister further stated that there are various undertakings that the ministry is taking part in to achieve this goal.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said that financial inclusion rests on two pillars namely financial literacy, consumer protection as well as access to financial services and products.
In 2012 the minister launched the financial literacy initiative that is meant to educate Namibians on financial knowledge. This initiative has been rolled out to all the regions of Namibia and several educational programmes are being advanced to the public.
The Ministry is educating the public by translating the information into indigenous languages, producing radio programmes, holding educational dramas and they also plan on implementing financial education into the official school curriculum.
The minister launched a first of its kind Financial Literacy Baseline survey which revealed that financial literacy in Namibia is estimated at 42.8%, which the minister commented was still low.
The minister also emphasised the importance of consumer protection. “While provision of consumer financial education is key, so is the protection of consumers of financial services and products”.
She said she was pleased to announce that the Credit Bureau Regulations have been gazetted. This means that when the Credit Bureau Regulations come into force all existing credit bureaus in Namibia will now be registered and regulated by the Bank of Namibia.
The minister also said that legal obligation will be placed on every credit provider to submit both negative and positive credit performance information to all credit bureaus that meet legal requirements. The regulation will also place legal obligations on credit bureaus to inform consumers on their rights to challenge the information maintained in the credit bureau database.
The Financial sector strategy will also make provisions to make financial services and products affordable. This has been done by introducing the Basic Bank Account (BBA) in 2013 and the removal of cash deposit fees by March 2015. “This is to address the reality that one of the barriers that hinder people from accessing formal banking services in Namibia is excessive fees charged by banking institutions to consumers when depositing cash onto their accounts”.
The Basic Bank account is intended for individuals that earn N$2000 per month or less. No proof of income will be needed to open the BBA, there will be no cash deposit fees or monthly fees charged to the account.
All that is required to open the BBA Namibian citizenship with relevant documentation or the person must be a permanent resident of Namibia.
She also urged the public to acquaint themselves with the Namibia Stock Exchange (NSX) because it doesn’t help the government urges companies to list on the NSX but citizens do not utilise this opportunity.