WINDHOEK - The latest results from the Namibia Financial Inclusion Survey (NFIS) indicate that the country’s banking population increased to 67.9 percent in 2017, up from 45 percent in 2011. In addition, the majority of the eligible banking population, 64.7 percent, said they consider Automated Teller Machines the most comfortable banking channel followed by bank branches at just over 58 percent.
“When comparing Namibia to other countries in the SADC region where the financial inclusion surveys have been implemented, Namibia is ranked fourth in terms of financial inclusion, with Seychelles topping the region,” said Statistician General and CEO of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Alex Shimuafeni.
The results of the national survey, of which the target population was eligible members of private households, further indicated, at close to 60 percent, that the main barrier to banking was a lack of money for saving purposes while a marginal percentage (0.1 percent) reported the inconvenience of banking hours as a barrier to accessing financial services. The results also showed that the majority of the eligible population (32.5 percent) earns up to N$1000 per month with the main source of income being wages from private companies whilst government or parastatal wages ranked third at 10.3 percent.
In addition, approximately 19 percent of the eligible population reported having borrowed money in the past six months preceding the 2017 NFIS. The main reason for borrowing was for buying food but the main barrier to accessing credit was out of fear of increased debt.
The NFIS 2017 also revealed that close to 13 percent of adults in the country has or used credit or loan products from banks during the six months before the 2017 NFIS. “They could also be using other non-banking credit or loan products and/or borrowed from friends or family, but the defining characteristics are that they borrow (some or all of their credit) from a bank,” explained Shimuafeni.
The NSA, in collaboration with the Bank of Namibia and FinMark Trust of South Africa, embarked on the first of its kind NFIS, from October to November 2017. The NFIS is a representative survey of how individuals source their income and how they manage their financial lives, including their engagement with the financial services sector as a whole. The survey also provides insight into attitudes and perceptions regarding money management, financial products and services as well as information regarding demographics and overall lifestyles. Eligible members were individuals who, at the time of the survey, were 16 years or older who were available for the duration of the survey and who were mentally and physically able to be interviewed. 1863 people were interviewed and data was captured onto a tablet-based questionnaire using the Survey-To-Go application. The NFIS revealed that only 6.7 percent of adults rely on informal mechanisms such as informal money-lenders and do not actually have any formal financial credit or loan products. These adults, Shimuafeni noted, could however be borrowing from friends and family.
The NFIS was conducted in all 14 region of the country with funding from the Bank of Namibia and the World Bank Group as well as technical assistance from FinMark Trust of South Africa.