It is the duty of banks to adapt and meet the evolving needs of all their stakeholders. Bank Windhoek’s Managing Director, Baronice Hans, made this statement when she handed over the Chairpersonship of the Bankers Association of Namibia (BAN) on Thursday, 29 June 2023, in Windhoek. “As a vital sector entrusted with the efficient functioning of economic activity, we face both tremendous opportunities and formidable challenges stemming from societal pressures, the transition to digital banking, and the risks associated with technological advancements, among other factors,” she said.
Hans said that throughout her BAN tenure, amidst the scrutiny and negative sentiment faced by the banking industry, she has remained committed to the banks' numerous roles in the economy. These roles she said are financial intermediation, credit creation, the provision of secure and efficient payment systems, capital formation, risk management, and the transmission of monetary policy. “By fulfilling these functions, banks contribute significantly to the allocation of capital, the facilitation of economic transactions, the management of risks, and the overall stability and growth of the economy,” she said.
Hans also took the opportunity to say that the banking industry is acutely aware of the magnitude of its role in uplifting Namibian society and communities. She highlighted that the banks have actively pursued Corporate Citizenship initiatives, supported charitable causes, promoted economic development, and addressed societal challenges. “Notable efforts by the industry include supporting small businesses through initiatives like the Small Medium Enterprises Recovery Loan. Additionally, we are dedicated to our corporate social responsibility programmes,” she said. “Individual banks allocate 1% of their annual Profit After Tax to social investment programmes. This is in addition to the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives we drive through the Bankers Association of Namibia to amplify our impact. Furthermore, we prioritise financial education and drive environmental sustainability.”
The event marked Bank Windhoek's concluding tenure as Chair of the Bankers Association of Namibia. During the Bank’s tenure, Hans said it advocated the importance of open communication and dialogue with all stakeholders and addressed the ongoing challenges in clarifying the role of the banking sector.
Hans highlighted a few key milestones achieved by the Bankers Association of Namibia during the 2022/23 period, which includes the implementation of the BAN Code of Banking Practice to ensure fair treatment of customers and the publication of various articles under its consumer education drive, focusing on the requirements for granting credit by banks. “We are thankful for the remarkable opportunity bestowed upon us,” said Hans, thanking the regulator, Bank of Namibia, Bank Windhoek’s Executive Management Team, and all participating banks, their customers, and the various sub-committee chairs.
The Bankers’ Association of Namibia was established in 1997, following the Banking Institutions Act, as the representative trade association for the commercial banking sector in the country. Their overarching objective is to provide a forum for considering policy matters impacting the Namibian banking industry and for member banks to discuss common concerns and issues. Through the BAN, members deal with non-competitive matters of common interest and significance to Namibia's banking industry.
The responsibility of Chairing the BAN rotates annually amongst the Managing Directors of the current commercial banks in Namibia. Hans handed over the responsibility to First National Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Erwin Tjipuka. She congratulated Tjipuka, wished him well and assured Bank Windhoek’s unwavering support and commitment to working together as a unified force.