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Broad array of indicators continue sending mixed signals

Broad array of indicators continue sending mixed signals

While it can not be disputed that banking liquidity in the first half of March continued the somewhat depressed trend of January and February, it is also noticeable that the banking sector ended March on a significantly more positive level.

Last week, Namibian banks’ combined local and South African liquidity positions ended the month a tad short of N$3 billion. The position quickly changed for the better this week reaching almost N$3.7 billion, and that shortly after month-end.

Some analysts argue that the N$800 million Bank of Namibia bills taken up by local banks are an indication of “mild” liquidity stress but this has to be viewed against a zero demand for BoN bills up to the last week of March. It was only on 26 March that local banks required the relatively modest liquidity boost from the central bank.

In any case, the BoN bills are miles away from last year’s trend and this week the outstanding bills also followed a positive trend, abruptly dropping to N$550 million by Thursday, sending a signal that the mild liquidity stress is indeed very mild.

Similarly, outstanding Repos have dropped from just over N$700 million at the beginning of March to just under N$240 million by the end of the month. Repos, contrary to BoN bills this week had a slight upward move, increasing to N$287 million but still far away of the demand in the first semester of 2017.

The sticky Private Sector Credit Extension figures, although still very disappointing, indicates some consolidation. At the end of February, there was a slight uptick in PSCE compared to January but still less than the depressed growth rate of a year ago when it was already catastrophic. But as always, the overall picture tends to be misleading and the significance must be found in the detail. There is a marked difference in the demand for credit by commercial entities compared to private households.

During 2017, the growth in household credit outpaced the demand from corporates as shown by the strong growth in overdraft lending to private individuals. Businesses, however, required less and less credit, and after a small surge in overdraft lending at the beginning of 2017, this component receded for the rest of the year. The relationship between these two categories of borrowers show that individuals, and by definition, households, were under stress while corporates gradually reduced their exposure.

This has now turned around significantly with private individuals contributing only 0.6% in credit growth while credit to corporate clients jumped almost 2% from January to February.

Looking at long-term trends, I do not believe that the banking liquidity has decreased to stress levels, far from it. Compared to the first three months of 2017, this year saw a positive liquidity position throughout. Granted, current liquidity is not as comfortable as around September last year, but not nearly as constrained as at the beginning of 2017 when overall liquidity was mostly negative up to 09 May. We have not seen a single day of negative banking liquidity since.

A further indication of robust liquidity year on year, comes from the sterling performance of government debt auctions although it must be pointed out that short-term instruments are far more popular than longer-dated paper, and that there is almost zero demand for any bonds with maturities beyond 2030.

Thursday’s 364-day Treasury Bill tender was again more than twice oversubscribed, comfortably financing the government’s current requirement at fairly favourable yields between 8.12% and 8.37%. This is indicative of ample liquidity and if indeed, there is “mild” stress in the banking system, I suspect it would be with only one big bank, and perhaps one of the small new entrants.

Overall the signals I see show more than sufficient liquidity for this time of the year and mountains more than this time last year.

It is also noticeable that growth in the money supply has come down from more than 9% year on year to 6.5% in March but this has much to do with the technicalities of trade financing and of Bank of Namibia investments. It has little to do with the amount of money that goes through local banks on any given day. Again, as a comparison, at the end of 2016 and early 2017, money supply growth was a paltry 4.5%.

It is perhaps premature to premise expectations for the rest of the year on the performance of only one quarter, but in general, I sense that most of the financial consolidation has already taken place. I am not predicting a sudden recovery in 2018, it is far to early for that, but I can safely state that the majority of the available indicators show a far more stable first quarter than a year ago.

Graph courtesy of IJG Research – Ed.



About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The Economist started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at It is the first Namibian newspaper to go fully digital. Daniel Steinmann is an authority on macro-economics having established a sound record of budget analysis, strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of journalism students as interns and as young professional jourlists. He regularly helps economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to

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


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.