Acontinued weak economic environment coupled with the prevailing low interest rate environment due to Covid-19 impacted Standard Bank Namibia (SBN)’s results with profit after tax declining by 16.5% compared to the prior period. This is according to the bank’s interim financial statements for the six months ended 30 June 2021 released last week.
The bank’s net interest income was reduced by 4.7% from N$630 million to N$601 million for the period under review. This is mainly attributable to the negative endowment as a result of a 2.75% staggering reduction in the repo rate between February and April 2020, combined with negative growth in net loans and advances.
Although non-interest revenue (NIR) decreased by 2.7% to N$571 million period-on-period, net fee and commission revenue increased by 1.4% and trading revenue by 3.2%. The largest contributor to the 2.7% decrease in NIR is the 29.8% decrease in other gains and losses on financial instruments on account of the 2.75% decrease in the repo rate between February and April 2020. The revenue driver for other gains and losses on financial instruments is the return on investments in unit trusts.
SBN further stated loans, advanced gross loans and advances to customers increased by 2.7% to N$23 billion. Corporate lending recorded strong growth at 11% followed by other loans and advances at 7.4% and mortgage loans at 2.8%.
According to the bank, the decline in sovereign lending was due to sizeable structured repayment obligations. “The reason for the decrease in credit card debtors is well understood and a clear strategy has been put in place to contain further reductions. Loans and advances to banks decreased as depositors optimised the favourable USD/NAD exchange rate through withdrawals. There is a strategic focus on loans and advances growth but without taking undue risks,” read a statement on the bank’s website.
Meanwhile, the bank’s economists expect the global economy to grow by 6% in 2021. As such, developing economies, like Namibia, are expected to catch the tailwinds of this growth but this could be detracted by potential further Covid-19 waves, vaccination hesitancy and slow vaccination rates.
Namibia’s forecasted growth of 1.4% in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 is expected to be driven by the mining industry with moderate support from most industries in the secondary and tertiary sectors. Interest rates are expected to remain unchanged for the remainder of 2021.
“We have updated our strategic priorities and will focus relentlessly on three things. We will transform client experience, execute with excellence, and drive sustainable growth and value. To achieve the above, our aim will be to even better understand our clients as deeply as possible, and then use our skills and digital capacities to help meet their needs, including funding needs, and to enable them to achieve their goals,” explained SBN.