The rise and rise of Uanguta
Bank of Namibia governor, Ipumbu Shiimi recently announced the appointment of Ebson Uanguta to the position of deputy governor with effect from 1 January 2012. Uanguta takes over from long serving civil servant, Paul Hartmann who has occupied the position of deputy governor for the past nine years.
The elevation of Uanguta to his designate position less than a year after his appointment as director of research at the central bank, has left many in the banking world wondering how the soft spoken man is managing to climb the corporate ladder at the prestigious bank in such a short period of time.
Soon after the announcement of his appointment, the Economist (NE) spoke to the “new kid on the block” to get an insight on the man, his ambitions and the challenges lying ahead of him. Here is a short excerpt of the interview:
NE: How do you feel regarding your new appointment?
EU: I am humbled by this appointment. I know it is an enormous task, but I am looking forward to the task ahead.
NE: What, in your view, will be the most challenging aspect of your new appointment?
EU: The most challenging aspect will be to step into the shoes of Mr Paul Hartmann, the current deputy governor, who is an experienced civil servant and a central banker. In addition, other challenges will be to work hard to support the governor and other colleagues in management to ensure that the Bank’s strategic plan for 2012/2016 is fully implemented. Among others, given the high level of financial exclusion in Namibia, Bank’s efforts would be geared towards increasing financial inclusion, especially for the majority of the rural and poor people.
NE: When did you start working for the Bank of Namibia and in what position? (You can also include your other working experience.)
EU: I started working for the Bank of Namibia in July 2000 as an economist responsible for monetary policy and exchange rate issues. Thereafter, I moved to the position of senior economist, principal economist then (deputy director) of policy research division. Later on I took the position of principal economist responsible for modelling and forecast. In 2006, I became the acting director of research. In 2007 the Bank seconded me to IMF as an advisor to the executive director of International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C, a position I held for 4 years until governor Shiimi appointed me as the director of research.
NE: Your success at the bank has been phenomenal. Recently you were appointed to your current position and in less than a year you have been elevated to the position of deputy governor, do you see yourself as governor of the bank one day?
EU: My focus is not so much on positions, but on the task at hand. With this appointment, my focus is on supporting my governor and the entire management so that we can take the bank to greater heights.
NE:What do you attribute your success to?
EU: My life is guided by the following virtues, amongst others: hard work, dedication, and result-oriented.
NE: What are the most pressing challenges facing African central banks today and how do you hope to overcome these challenges.
EU: The challenge for the central banks is to continue to ensure stable macroeconomic conditions, which are supportive of economic growth and development. Particularly, in Namibia, key challenges remain, including high level of financial exclusion. Therefore, together with other key stakeholders, Bank’s effort will be to reduce the exclusion rate of bankable population, without proper financial services. This goal and many others are clearly outlined in the Financial Sector Strategy, which will be launched early next year. This is going to be our focus.