Banks set for record profits

Capital central: The Bank of Botswana oversees all commercial banks in the country PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Capital central: The Bank of Botswana oversees all commercial banks in the country PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The country’s commercial banks recorded collective after-tax profits of P2.4 billion in the first 11 months of last year, setting them on course for the highest profits the sector has ever recorded.

Previously, the highest after-tax profits the banks enjoyed was in 2018 at P2.02 billion.

Bank of Botswana (BoB) figures released recently indicate that in the first 11 months of last year, the country’s commercial banks raised their net interest incomes to P4.6 billion, nearly 15% above the corresponding period in 2021.

The BoB lifted interest rates three times last year to cool inflation.

Meanwhile, provisions for bad and doubtful debts in 2022 fell more than 65% to P165 million, as the banks reaped the rewards of tighter risk controls put in place since the pandemic broke out. First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), the country’s largest bank by both balance sheet and customer numbers, reported a decline in total impairments of 20% for the half year ended December 2022.

Most banks tightened their credit risk protocols after the onset of COVID-19 three years ago and have maintained the same rigour to today.

“FNBB has continued to deploy its financial resources appropriately and prudently, with conservative capital and provisioning levels,” the bank’s directors said in a results commentary issued last week. “This has allowed the bank to respond to customer needs by extending credit selectively without relaxing its overall credit parameters.”

Other BoB data indicates that banks’ collective arrears fell below P5 billion in November 2022, after spending most of the time since the outbreak of COVID-19 above the figure.

The lower arrears position comes even as most banks cautiously ramp up their lending activities, in response to the improving economy.

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