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Exclusion fuelled by cost and inaccessibility

Ian LeyenaarThe FNB Group has its objective of moving from the leading to the preferred financial services provider in Namibia over the past financial year, according to Ian Leyenaar, CEO of FNB Namibia.
“This strategic plan assisted FNB’s path through the global economic turmoil and ensured that we were not distracted by the many uncontrollable factors we had to contend with, enabling the group to achieve commendable financial results.”
On the issue of financial exclusion, Leyenaar said that exclusion was reduced from 51% in 2007, to 31% in 2011 according to the latest FinScope figures.
“We are extremely aware of the fact that our government promotes financial inclusion and wishes to close the 45% unbanked public gap – something we wholeheartedly support,” he said.
Leyenaar added that he believes there were basically two reasons for the non-use of banking products in Namibia.
He explained: “The first reason is the demand side which is determined by the availability of financial resources and affordability. With an unemployment rate of 51% it stands to reason that many people do not have a need for formal banking services. The second cause is the accessibility to, and cost of banking services. Namibia is a huge country with a small population, which makes traditional banking through a network of branches very expensive. That is why FNB Namibia embarked on a programme to offer Namibians more appropriate electronic products. We realise that there is still scope to widen and deepen both the quality and the extent of inclusion by means of such products and services.”
FNB Namibia has worked closely with the Bank of Namibia and concentrated on giving wider access to banking services by developing and implementing special low cost, safe and easy to use products for both individuals and small businesses.  Two unique transactional accounts, aimed specifically at the non-banked citizens, were launched in 2011.  These new accounts have a pay-as-you-use pricing formula, which means there are no monthly account fees and clients can still maintain their bank accounts even if they do not earn a regular income.
Furthermore in support of the central bank’s drive towards greater financial inclusion, FNB Namibia enhanced their Cellphone Banking value proposition, to make registration more convenient for the lower end of the market, the bank said in a statement.
“FNB Namibia is the only bank that offers this in-Contact notification service through both local cell phone operators. We offer the free inContact SMS service that keeps customers informed about their transactional banking.  We also started sending customers educational messages if they use more expensive banking channels at month end,”  said Leyenaar.
According to the bank, it is “in no way reluctant to bank in marginalised societies”, which is  evident from its network of 51 branches, 224 ATMs and mini ATMs, and 2 050 speedpoints across the country.
The bank has made a concerted effort to reach those unbanked masses by offering more appropriate and affordable propositions to marginalised Namibians, such as self-service, affordable, easy to use and safe electronic channels, said Leyenaar.
“This we believe is the best way to truly bring financial services to every Namibian. The challenge is that many people do not trust it yet, so FNB has embarked on a number of extensive educational drives to assist in this mind shift and get people to change their perception and consequently their behaviour.
“That is why FNB Namibia has committed to the Financial Sector Charter Strategy and is an active participant of Financial Literacy Initiative under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance.  We also support many other consumer education forum initiatives driven through the private sector,” he said.

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.