WINDHOEK - Last week Nedbank Namibia hosted a business luncheon at Hotel Heinitzburg, which was attended by the who’s who of the Namibian business community, including the Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein and Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo.
The luncheon was the culmination of an extended visit to Namibia by the Nedbank Group Chief Executive, Mike Brown. Over his two-day visit, Brown’s schedule included courtesy visits to some of Namibia’s premier corporate entities, as well as talks with the Governor of the Bank of Namibia, Ipumbu Shiimi.
Speaking at the business luncheon, Nedbank Namibia Managing Director Lionel Matthews acknowledged the private sector’s role in working together with government, especially as the country faces volatile economic times. “It is our responsibility as business leaders in the private and public sector, to take hands and find the best way to charter through these times. It will not be easy, but doing nothing about the situation now will only catch up to us later. We are here to assist the public sector, as the growth of our economy is also our responsibility. We owe it to the future of our country,” said Matthews.
Addressing the audience, Mike Brown, who is a chartered accountant and Harvard graduate, gave an overview of the South African economic landscape, stating how the political situation has impacted the economy. “We have seen a roller-coaster in the political landscape in South Africa, with economists having predicted a three percent GDP growth following the appointment of President Ramaphosa, but the unfortunate reality is that we have seen negative growth in Q1 and Q2,” he said.
Brown, who took over the reigns as Nedbank Group chief executive in 2010, further explained that a stable economy rests squarely on the foundations built by a stable government. “The ANC can be described to be at the early stages of a political turnaround, and an ultimate consequence of this should be stability and consistency in policy making. With a better environment from a policy point of view, the next thing that plays out is greater levels of business confidence, which leads to investment that, in turn, is a primary catalyst for higher levels of growth and job creation,” he said.
Nedbank is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange with a secondary listing in Namibia, and the business has a market capitalisation value of 120 billion ZAR. The company employs 30 000 people and services eight million customers across Africa. Brown elaborated how Nedbank’s business stretches across the African continent: “Within SADC and East Africa, Nedbank wants to own, manage and control banks. However, in Central and West Africa we have taken a different approach, in terms of which we initially formed a partnership with, and later bought 20 percent of, Eco Bank, in endeavours to give our clients strategic access to that part of the market. Therefore, between Nedbank in Southern and East Africa and our Eco Bank interest in Central and West Africa, Nedbank has the largest pan-African footprint of any financial service organisation, enabling us to support banking and financial services anywhere on the continent.”
In conclusion Brown stated that Nedbank Namibia is the largest and most important subsidiary outside South Africa. He went on to say: “Nedbank Group continues to be a supportive shareholder, investing in both growing the business as well as playing an important role in growing the Namibian economy, and, in so doing, improve the lives of all Namibians.”