> Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – President Hage Geingob on Tuesday, October 27, inaugurated the new multi-million dollar office complex of the First National Bank of Namibia (FNB) located in the heart of Windhoek’s central business district.
The office complex that cost over N$500 million to build brought all the bank’s consolidated operations under one roof.
During the inauguration also attended by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, Geingob said the construction of this modern age building is an indication that Namibia’s business environment and economic future remains positive.
“This is a testament to Government’s efforts since independence, to put in place strong macroeconomic fundamentals and to create a conducive business environment.
“Through the construction of this building, FNB is expressing confidence in Namibia’s economic future and I have no doubt that this faith will lead to the continued achievement of this successful financial institution,” the President said.
Geingob also encouraged commercial banks in the country to always design products that factor in the concept of ensuring that ‘no one feels left out’.
“One example of an initiative which fits this mould is FNB’s revolutionary E-Wallet money transfer tool, which is a product that ensures financial inclusion for many Namibians.
“I therefore encourage more laudable initiatives such as this, to be initiated in other areas of the financial sector.
“I am also pleased to learn that FNB, through its foundation, has committed itself to invest in numerous major focus areas in community development, health, environmental guardianship, skills development, education, financial inclusion, sports development, as well as arts and culture in which beneficiaries receive monies set aside from the profit after tax every year,” he said.
FNB’s investments through its foundation are projected to be at N$9.8 million for the next financial year and Geingob pleaded with the bank to also invest in programmes that are aimed at the most impoverished citizens such as the Food Bank Initiative.
FNB Chief Executive Officer Sarel van Zyl said they will continue making more money available to drive Namibia’s economic growth. Over the past 12 months, the bank has provided loan facilities amounting to N$3.5 billion to government and the private sector.
Van Zyl said they will continue supporting skills development in Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) to help with poverty reduction and job creation.
“Our newly established RMB Namibia has contributed significantly to the growth of both government – which includes the Ministry of Finance, TransNamib, Telecom etc, as well as the private sector, by making funding of more than N$3.5bn available over the past year,” he said.
The FNB Holdings Foundation has invested in excess of N$33 million over the past five years in the development and protection of the communities and environment in which they operate through skills development, education, sport as well as arts, culture and health projects.
He also said that it was important to note that 33 percent of their earnings are re-invested back in expansion and growth, 29 percent paid to their staff, and 21 percent or N$469 million paid to government in the form of direct taxes.
“If we include the indirect taxes that we collect from our staff salaries, Valued Added Tax (VAT) and withholding of taxes, FNB Namibia Holdings paid close to N$750 million to government in our previous financial year.
“We have also provided home loans to people from all walks of life of more than N$11 billion and look forward to continue to support the economic growth of Namibia in an ethical, responsible and sustainable manner through our branch network of 55 branches, 270 Automatic Teller Machine (ATMs) and more than 2,500 Points of Sale devices, spread all over Namibia,” he said.
Despite all these successes, Van Zyl said that over the years they have consistently faced skills challenges as most of the time they lose people they would have groomed to other companies.
“We are proud to see that our aggressive on-the-job as well as graduate training and recruitment interventions are paying off and you may be aware that a number of the executive leadership in our country such as the CEOs of Nampost, NBC (both current and former), Development Bank of Namibia, the late Namfisa (Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority) CEO Philip Shiimi and many others, used to work at FNB,” he said.
“Our Group will continue to identify Namibian talent and develop them so that they also can take up their rightful place in leading FNB and indeed Namibia into the future.
“We are serious about Namibia through the various investments that we have made in people, the economy and government, and that we will continue to look for opportunities on how we can help you and thereby realise our vision of becoming a great Namibian business that creates a better world for all.”