It was a pleasure for me to accept your invitation to officially open the First National Bank Botswana Mogoditshane Branch. This occasion records another achievement made by the Bank’s founders who had a vision when they set up a subsidiary Bank in Botswana towards the end of 1990. At that time the First National Bank Group made the decision to invest in a retail banking operation in Botswana now known as First National Bank of Botswana Limited (FNBB), which was registered in 1991. In 1992, FNBB acquired the Bank of Credit and Commerce Botswana Limited. This was followed by the acquisition of Financial Services Company of Botswana Limited and Zimbank Botswana Limited in 1993. These acquisitions created a solid basis for the Bank to be listed in the Botswana Stock Exchange in 1993, which was an early sign of the Bank’s commitment to the country and its economy. Since the Bank’s establishment in 1991, it has grown to become a leading bank in the country in terms of both market share and brand strength. The Bank has steadily increased its footprint in the country with the opening of a number of branches across the country. I welcome FNBB’s move to establish here in Mogoditshane for two important reasons. First it is a sign that the business climate is conducive and that the Botswana economy is growing. Secondly, it is a real vote of confidence and optimism in Mogoditshane, which has seen several banks set up in the area in recent years. I am reliably informed that the Mogoditshane Branch is one of the busiest branches in the FNB network in the country. In addition to increasing their footprint, FNBB has also made use of innovations in the ICT sector to bring banking to the people of Botswana, making financial services more accessible, particularly for the unbanked. According to a research conducted by the World Bank, in 2014 only 51% of adults worldwide, over the age of 25, have a bank account at a formal financial institution, which means that a significant number of our population is still excluded from access to financial services. FNB Botswana has, over the years, introduced a number of products and services to bridge this gap; an endeavour for which I wish to commend and encourage the Bank to continue to make. Access to a Bank account is a first step towards broader financial inclusion, since it allows a person to send and receive payments and more importantly to save money. A transactional account also serves as a gateway to other financial services. Bank account holders are more likely to use other financial services, such as credit and insurance, to start and expand their businesses, invest in education or health which can improve their overall quality of life. Generally, financial access makes day-to-day living easier, and helps families and businesses establish long-term goals.
Financial Inclusion has been identified as an enabler for goal number 7 of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is encouraging to see FNBB responding to this need with their various products and services, with particular reference to the opening of this new branch in Mogoditshane. Mogoditshane is a peri-urban area with a significant number of individuals and small to medium sized businesses. I understand that the Mogoditshane branch, like all other FNB branches, provides the residents in all the surrounding areas with access to banking services, ranging from deposits to various loan facilities. Bringing financial services even closer to the majority of the people, is a welcome development indeed. April 2017 marked the beginning of the implementation of our 11th National Development Plan under the theme “Inclusive Growth for the Realisation of Sustainable Employment Creation and Poverty Eradication”. This theme will be realised through the implementation of six national priorities. Of this six priorities, the first priority is “developing diversified sources of economic growth”. I would like to emphasise this priority, because commercial banks including FNBB have an important role to play in the realization of Botswana’s development goals. In our view, the financial inclusion and empowerment of the youth and small businesses are some of the ways of eradicating poverty and growing the Botswana economy. Investing in Mogoditshane where there is a large number of small businesses, is further demonstration of FNB’s alignment to our national vision. Only a few weeks ago the Governor of the Bank of Botswana Mr Moses Pelaelo was officially opening an FNB branch in Mochudi. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Board management and staff of the bank for continuing to increase their footprint to provide banking services to Batswana. Global fraud and financing of terrorism are compelling financial institutions and banks such as yourselves, to establish and continuously improve their security and regulatory compliance. Sound KYC policies and procedures are critical for protecting the safety and soundness of banks and the integrity of the banking system in the country. At the national level, my Ministry will continue to ensure that the legal framework is in place to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering. In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that a robust and open financial system is key to growing our economy. Enhancing financial inclusion in Botswana can pay big dividends for us all and also for the key players in our banking sector such as FNBB. It is critical that in our efforts to grow, we do not sacrifice stability, transparency and integrity for which Botswana has always been known. As Government, we embrace a close working relationship with the private sector because, together, we create a more prosperous future for Botswana and her citizens. As a result, the Government will continue to ensure that a conducive environment exists for the private sector by providing the requisite infrastructure.
*Kenneth Matambo, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, officiating at the opening of FNBB Mogoditshane branch on October 5, 2017