WINDHOEK: Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila on Thursday launched the ten year Namibia Financial Sector Strategy (2011-2021) aim to restructure and develop the Namibian financial sector in the country.
Kuugongelw-Amadhila said the Strategy provides a sector development blueprint which will ensure its inclusiveness, competitiveness and resilience.
She stressed that the strategy enlists a suite of strategic actions aimed at addressing structural weaknesses in the sector and unlocking the full potential of the financial sector in respect of its contribution to the economic development.
“We take pride in the stability of our financial system. It is on account of this financial stability that our economy withstood the adverse impacts of the global financial and economic crises. However, the manifest financial stability disguises historical structural weaknesses,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
She stressed that a dichotomy of a multi-billion dollar industry, with assets valued at over twice the size of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the one hand and, an enclave of limited access to finance, skills shortages and under-developed capital markets on the other hand, still exists.
Thus, the minister said this situation requires a paradigm shift, resoluteness and focus in addressing the challenges facing the Industry.
She added that the NFSS also serves as an overarching blueprint for accelerated sector development and reform.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated that the actions engendered in the Strategy are aimed at addressing the historical weaknesses in five core areas of sector development, namely financial markets deepening and development, financial safety net, financial inclusion, localisation of the Namibian Financial Sector, and skills development
She explained that in the area of financial markets deepening and development, the strategic activities are aimed at strengthening the contribution of the financial sector to economic growth and strengthening the stability and robustness of the financial system.
The minister said this will to be achieved through the promotion of expanded product offerings, and development of capital market characterized by, among others, an active Stock Exchange.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that an appropriate assessment will be undertaken to continuously shore up the stability of the financial system and the viability of financial safety nets to buttress the country crisis response mechanism in the event of possible future shocks to the sector and the economy in general.
She said in order to drive the financial inclusion agenda, the Financial Inclusion Council under the stewardship of the Prime Minister Nahas Angula was established to provide innovations to cater for the needs of the market.
The minister further stated that access to affordable finance for low-income earners and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) represents a significant barrier to economic participation of these market segments.
“The financial industry can overcome the challenges of limited economies of scale and geographical spread by harnessing technology and innovative approaches to reach out to the underserved. Increased attention will be given to promoting the emergence of micro-finance institutions,” she said.