By Petronella Sibeene ARANOS In its effort to expand its banking services and make its facilities accessible to rural communities, Bank Windhoek this week at Aranos opened its sixth branch. At a gathering mainly comprised of senior citizens, the executive officer of Banking Services Marius Alberts stated that the bank has shown impressive growth in the bank’s assets amounting to N$6.2 billion, with profits before tax increasing by 14.8 per cent to an amount of N$169 million as at 30 June 2005. By offering easy access to banking facilities, Alberts said, the bank strives to strengthen the development of the economy and trading potential of underdeveloped areas such as Aranos. With a population of about 6 000 people whose economic activities are mostly concentrated on livestock farming and retail, the population has great potential of bringing further development to the area and as such, banking facilities and banking must be encouraged. Through its 24 years of existence, the bank, according to the executive officer, has been characterised by a strong commitment to understand the needs of the people and in response, Namibians have played a fulfilling role leading to the growth of the bank’s assets. “By offering easy access of banking facilities for all members of the Hardap Region, we are strengthening the development of the economy and the trading potential of Aranos.” The bank also intends to provide banking services to the community of Aminuis through a mobile unit in two months time. Governor of the Hardap Region Katrina Hansen applauded Bank Windhoek for bringing banking services to the people, adding that the area has seen dramatic growth brought about by the activities carried out by the local people. Given the agriculture and tourism potential that the region harbours, Hansen further encouraged Aranos residents to continue engaging in economic activities that would attract investors to the town. Hansen urged all banking service providers to become integral parts of the communities they are serving not only through the routine way but to look into how they can really address socio-economic challenges and in particular to reach out to the poorest of the poor. “Banks should move away from the tendency of only listening and looking at the ‘haves’ but should in all earnest come out prominently in the fight against various challenges we are faced with in our country.” The bank has opened branches in other rural areas such as Noodoewer, Eenhana, Outapi, Opuwo and Okakarara. The Namibian banking sector comprises of four commercial banks and 30 per cent of the branches belong to Bank Windhoek.