MAUN: Bank Gaborone is establishing a strong presence in the tourism hubs of Maun and Kasane as the bank extends its branch network across the country.
Managing director of Bank Gaborone, Sybrand Coetzee told Mmegi Business on the sidelines of the official opening of the Maun branch on Monday that bank has a massive expansion plan. Coetzee explained following the branch opening that their next stop would be another opening in Kasane.
He said plans for the Kasane branch are advanced adding that they are in the process of identifying a building for their operation in the tourism township. He reiterated that through opening the Maun and Kasane branches they want to tap into the tourism sector adding that, however, they also have interests in the agriculture sector. In 2016, the tourism industry accounted for 3.9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) through industries such as hotels, restaurants, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services. These industries further contributed 2.6% to total employment in 2016. Coetzee further shared that they are undertaking viability assessments in other areas in Botswana for future expansion. However, he stated that banking in Botswana is still very traditional saying that they are therefore forced to take the brick and mortar route in their expansion.
“In Botswana banking is still exclusively traditional. Clients prefer face-to-face interactions. This is forcing us to open branches than digital banking,” he said, adding that they are still expanding their digital banking.
On banking competition, Coetzee said the dim world economic performance has worsened the performance of the local banking sector saying they are unfazed by local market competition as they have their own customer niche. Bank Gaborone’s financial position has grown steadily since commencement of operations, in 2006. Total assets increased from P268 million in June 2007 to P4.6 billion in June 2017. Lending increased from P197 million to P3.2 billion in June 2017 while deposits grew from P188 million to P3.9 billion in June 2017.
The bank has in a short period, mobilised approximately P4 billion worth of financial resources. It employs 261 people in Botswana so far. In his remarks, Bank Gaborone board chairman, Peter Collins explained that the bank is a member of the Capricorn Group, a substantial regional investment company operating in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Therefore, Collins said Bank Gaborone has access to expertise, experience and financial support of a regional player.
“We are therefore able to respond to all our customer requirements, not only by personal local service, but also through synergies derived from being part of a regional player.” Collins added that Bank Gaborone did a thorough market analysis guided by needs of customers in Ngamiland, which led to the opening of the Maun branch. Collins said in 2016, the KPMG Africa-wide banking industry Customer Satisfaction Survey ranked Bank Gaborone as the most customer-focussed bank. Moreover, Collins said over the last 11 years of the bank’s existence in Botswana, it now has 11 branches including the Maun one.