By Mbatjiua Ngavirue
For some time now, government has pushed the Namibian financial sector towards making their products more accessible and affordable to members of the public.
Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was a key driving force behind this push.
Over the last three years, various financial institutions have worked hard towards making banking services not only more accessible and affordable, but also more transparent.
The industry recently published the “Financial Sector Review 2007” in collaboration with the communications company, Intermedia Marketing Communications cc., as part of this effort.
The minister praised the industry for attempting to introduce themselves to the public, in a publication she described as both honest and open.
Publisher Gareth Amos of Intermedia said the intention behind the review was not for financial institutions to use it as a mouthpiece to sing their own praises. The main aim was to highlight the fact that the industry has made significant progress towards achieving the goals of accessibility and affordability.
The industry also aimed to address the third major challenge of financial education and information sharing.
According to Amos, the financial sector felt it had a responsibility to ensure that it increases the level of financial literacy.
“That is where Intermedia stepped in, to help with the challenges of financial literacy and information sharing,” he said.
The Bank of Namibia (BoN) contributed by initiating “Banking Week 2007”, held at the end of January and beginning of February, which organisers expect to become an annual event.
The financial industry proposed the idea for the “Financial Review” when they came together at the end of ” Banking Week 2007″.
The consensus within the sector is that the Financial Review should also become an annual event in order to continue the good work already started towards ensuring better financial education.
The sector, Amos said, wants to continually work towards creating a highly financially literate market.
The financial industry will distribute the Financial Review 2007 to a wide range of groups including businesses, SMEs, universities and schools.
It will also make it available to foreign embassies in Namibia and Namibian embassies abroad to showcase the country’s financial sector.
It provides a comprehensive overview of the financial sector in Namibia and can therefore help encourage investment in the country.
Amos said the ministries of Trade and Industry and of Finance could use it as a reference point when meeting with potential investors.
The entire publication is also on-line, making it a useful tool for government.
“When President Pohamba was in the UK recently, either he or members of his delegation could refer interested parties to the website if necessary,” he added.
The publishers expect local businesses to use the Financial Review to identify suppliers in the sector that meet their needs.
More importantly, however, Amos said, they compiled the publication by interviewing 50 top executives in the industry.
For the first time, a publication has provided these executives with a platform to express the challenges they face in delivering service to the Namibian market, and outline what they are doing to meet those challenges.
“People are more tolerant, patient and willing to understand when they know the full story. They can also help the industry to reach its goals, and to understand available business opportunities. he added.
Intermedia is currently working on Volume 1 of the Namibian BEE Index, which it expects to publish in about four months.
Volume 1 will look at the history of BEE, legislative challenges and a collection of opinions on the subject by leading Namibians from all walks of life, including commerce, manufacturing, government and academia.