Awards for Excellence 2000: Africa
Standard Chartered Bank has modernized and developed. Zimbabwe banks are on the rack. Nedcor wins one fight and Deutsche shows its class.
Best foreign bank: Standard Chartered Bank
Best foreign securities house: Stockbrokers Botswana
In its quest to turn Botswana into an offshore banking centre the government has been busy reforming the financial sector. In the past two years new tax legislation has been passed and all foreign exchange controls have been abolished.
Foreign banks dominate financial intermediation in Botswana. Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), and the South African banks First National and Stanbic effectively control both the small wholesale market and the retail market - a situation that is repeated elsewhere in the continent, as well as in many other emerging markets.
Standard Chartered Bank's consumer banking business in Botswana is the bank's largest retail operation in Africa, and accounts for 65% of its profits in Botswana. In an unsophisticated market SCB is unusual in offering unsecured loans to customers with salaries. It is also involved in a corporate loan scheme where company loans are offered to employees at preferential rates.
In previous years the banking sector had been under-lent, with liabilities often exceeding assets in the absence of bankable projects, but with an upsurge in consumer spending and, according to Standard Chartered, Botswanans "borrowing to the hilt", lending opportunities have increased.