Swaziland Overview

Published by Swazi Review of Commerce & Industry (Pty) Ltd

Banking

In its Programme of Action to 2018, government summed up its goals as fiscal prudence and tight financial control in the public sector, with improved financial management processes, tighter procurement procedures, stronger internal auditing and a further strengthening of the anti-corruption resource to maximise value for money in all government spending. A budgetary allocation totalling E14.2-million was directed towards two parastatal bodies for their activities during 2014/15.

When delivering his 2014/15 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Martin Dlamini disclosed that recent research highlighted limited access to finance as one of the constraints to growth in Swaziland. Unlocking this resource was therefore high on government’s economic growth agenda, he said, and key efforts will thus focus on mobilising both short- and long-term finance. The Central Bank of Swaziland will continue to supervise and regulate microfinance institutions engaged in deposit mobilisation, with a view to supporting government’s efforts aimed at savings-mobilisation and the provision of credit to small households.

Government will, with assistance from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), also continue supporting the Microfinance Unit that facilitates qualifying low-income individuals to access financial services. The Unit also aims to increase financial inclusion by targeting and bringing the un-banked segment of the population into the formal financial sector. Furthermore, in collaboration with Junior Achievers, Kick Start and Nectars, the Unit will develop an entrepreneurship training programme for the youth. The Finance Minister allocated E6.2-million to the Unit for 2014/15 as IFAD-counterpart funding. He also set aside E8-million for the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), the responsibilities of which include regulating all non-bank financial institutions.

Finance Minister Dlamini used the occasion of his Budget Speech to congratulate the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) www.sra.org.sz for exceeding its target in terms of tax collection: he said that in spite of tax cuts, total domestic revenue was expected to amount to E5.5-billion for 2013/14, a 12 percent year-on-year improvement. The Minister detailed how in 2013/14 higher than expected VAT refunds had been compensated for by strong collections in corporate tax, personal income tax and fuel tax. He said that the SRA’s major contribution to domestic revenue had resulted in a decline in the country’s reliance on its share of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Common Revenue Pool. Government will continue to look for ways to reduce dependence on SACU revenues, he added.

In late November when presenting his maiden Mid-Year Budget Report in the House of Assembly, Minister Dlamini again praised the SRA for exceeding expectations. He told MPs and the nation that while the Budget had estimated that a total E14.3-billion would be collected through taxes and other revenue sources and grants, forecasts pointed to the SRA exceeding that figure by around three percent. The Finance Minister said that the bulk of domestic revenues were around 78 percent - collected through corporate tax, VAT and income taxes from individuals - and totalling E1.1-billion as at end-September 2014. He projected reaching E2.2-billion by the end of the year, which would reflect a seven percent year-on-year increase: of the total, he expected VAT to raise E1.8-billion, a six per cent increase from 2013/14. Minister Dlamini said that his projections were based on VAT collections having amounted to E1-billion on a cash basis by end-September 2014, and corporate tax – which totalled E500-million as of that date - being projected to reach E1.1-billion.

PRIORITY PILLARS

Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) www.centralbank.org.sz Governor, Majozi Sithole, reiterated at the beginning of this review period that the institution’s motto is ‘strengthening the financial sector through enhanced financial stability to promote economic growth’, which he said is in line with the CBS recognising the sector’s essential role in promoting national development. Governor Sithole made the declaration when disclosing the formulation-in-process of a Financial Sector Strategy with technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund. He said that the initiative will assess the current status of the country’s financial system and identify and address key challenges, in order to enable the financial sector to contribute more meaningfully to the overall performance of the country’s economy. Sithole added that the CBS intends to live up to its motto by focusing on a number of priority areas as its pillar for sustaining and enhancing financial stability conducive to economic growth and development. He listed the priorities as:

  • Continuation of sound monetary policy to ensure price stability in the economy. The Governor explained that this was an essential precondition for sustainable economic growth and maintenance of macroeconomic stability and financial stability in particular. 
  • Sustained prudential surveillance and supervision of banks to strengthen the resilience of the banking systems. Sithole said that in this regard the CBS will continue to perfect its model of risk-based banking supervision. He highlighted that the onsite risk-based examination of banks is complemented by offsite surveillance, a combination that plays a major role in detecting early-warning signals of any financial distress and facilitates pre-emptive interventions.

COMMERCIAL BANKS

According to the CBS these institutions, whose statutory reserve and liquidity requirements remained unchanged during the period in review, adequately met both criteria and further maintained surplus balances.

First National Bank/WesBank has been operating in Swaziland since 1995. Its headquarters are at the Swazi Plaza in Mbabane and there are four main branches plus seven agencies throughout the country. With over 90 ATMs countrywide, FNB has the largest ATM network in Swaziland.

Making transactions has never been more secure, thanks to FNB’s Chip and Pin Debit Card that allows consumers and business clients to withdraw cash at over one million ATMs worldwide, pay for goods and services at point-of-sale terminals globally and make online purchases securely anywhere, anytime.

The Bank offers a variety of other products, including cheque, transmission, savings and investment accounts, home and property loans, vehicle and asset finance, credit cards, business and corporate banking, online banking, eWallet, eMail statements, FNB Banking App, Cellphone Banking, inContact (free SMS messaging) and Speedpoint (point-of-sale terminals).

FNB is a market leader in providing innovative solutions to its customers with online banking which facilitates payments and receipts and has full cross-border functionality with all South African banks. Customers also have easy access to their daily account balances, transaction history and statements, while cellphone banking allows access to their accounts anywhere at any time. Customers are also able to purchase prepaid airtime and electricity using these electronic platforms.

The award-winning FNB Banking App is one-of-a-kind for both FNB and non-FNB customers. With this app, one literally has a personal branch in his or her phone. This app provides convenient, safe and secure banking anytime, anywhere.

FNB’s Business and Corporate Divisions provide working capital term-funding structures for both business and commercial/corporate operations throughout Swaziland, while the Treasury Department caters for all local and foreign market transactions, offering expert international banking advice and information.

WesBank, with dealership representation in Mbabane and Manzini, is FNB’s leasing arm specialising in competitive leasing services for vehicles, machinery and equipment. It is a key provider of asset-based finance, catering for corporate and individual clients and placing emphasis on quick response times and high service levels. It provides customer service facilities at most dealer outlets where financial assistance and advice are available.

FNB’s commitment to corporate social investment is focused on addressing society’s needs at grassroots level and is highlighted in the bank’s brand promise of How can we help you?

Swaziland Foreign Trade and Investment

Nedbank HQ, Mbabane © Nedbank Swaziland

 

Nedbank Swaziland www.nedbank.co.sz is an international bank that is a subsidiary of the Nedbank Group of South Africa: as such, it creates value through constant innovation and reinvestment. Nedbank Swaziland has become a leading financial institution by following its vision to be the bank most admired by staff, clients, shareholders, regulators and commodities: it is expanding and illuminating its deep green aspirations to make Nedbank Swaziland a great place to bank, invest and work.

Headquartered in the NedCentre Building, Swazi Plaza, Mbabane, the Bank has nine branches throughout Swaziland and 31 ATMs nationwide. Through Corporate, Business, Retail and SME banking it offers a wide range of products coupled with exceptional services such as lending, global business products, investments, loans, e-banking, asset-based finance, treasury and transactional banking.

Nedbank’s Current Account is a convenient, safe and cashless mechanism for the payment of goods and services: client-benefits include ATM card, cheque book, interest earned, debit orders, electronic funds transfer and overdraft facilities which can also be accessed by third-party payment. Customers stand to qualify for a Personal Loan facility of up to E100 000 and an Overdraft which is a quick and convenient way for accessing funds when in need. Loan products also include Home Loans, Lusiba Education Assistance Programme (LEAP) Loan and Vehicle and Asset Finance: these ensure access to funds at critical times.

For entry-level-income customers and pensioners, Nedbank offers the Ngeyakho account which is a standard account that features card-based transactions and the options of sms notification and online banking.

Nedbank’s Internet Banking product allows customers access at their convenience and, most importantly, on a secure platform.

Through the innovative savings suite of products - the Sivuno Plus Savings and the Club Savings accounts that were launched on 22 February 2013 - Nedbank offers attractive methods of saving funds without incurring fees or commission and brings the advantages of free banking as well as highly competitive rates. Fixed and Notice deposits are offered as alternatives: they give varied periods and are accessible.

SME and Institutional Banking: Economic research has shown that developing countries can increase economic activity by empowering their SMEs. Nedbank Swaziland SME Banking is a result of the Bank’s decision to tailor-make products and services to specifically assist and address SMEs’ business and banking needs.

Private Banking: Nedbank caters specifically for the personal financial needs of high net-worth individuals. It offers a specialised level of service and a personal contact point for all customer financial requirements, be they general banking, portfolio management, estate planning, insurance or assurance.

Asset-based Finance: Nedbank ensures that clients enjoy the process of purchasing a vehicle and gets them behind the wheel within 48 hours.

Corporate and Business Banking: Nedbank’s focus is on client-centred delivery of solutions: it listens, understands and fulfils the financial services needs of clients through its teams of highly qualified, experienced professionals.

Global Business: This department facilitates clients’ finance and/or transaction settlements, minimising credit and operational risks and maximising returns.

Treasury: This department facilitates foreign currency trading and deposit-placements, and offers a specialised service in Spot Deals and Forward Cover.

Standard Bank Swaziland opened its doors in 1988 and is today a leading commercial bank in the country in terms of capital and assets. It is a member of the Standard Bank Group which has a global presence, with representation in 18 African countries and 21 countries outside Africa.

Standard Bank has a 150-plus year history in South Africa and began building a franchise outside Southern Africa in the early 1990s. In recent years Standard Bank has concluded key acquisitions in Kenya and Nigeria. Africa is at its core and the Bank will continue to build first-class, on-the-ground banks.

Standard Bank Swaziland’s vision is to be an employer of choice, leading in profitability and customer service in the local banking sector. It provides a full spectrum of financial services under two broad-based divisions - Corporate and Investment Banking, and Personal and Business Banking.

Corporate and Investment Banking: this division serves a wide range of requirements for banking, finance, trading, investment, risk management and advisory services. It delivers a comprehensive range of products and services relating to investment banking, global markets and global transactional products and services. Specialised services such as project finance, structured lending, derivatives and risk hedges are readily available. Expertise is focused on industry sectors that are most relevant to emerging markets and therefore have strong offerings in mining and metals, oil, gas and renewable energy, power and infrastructure, agribusiness, telecoms/media and financial institutions.

Personal and Business Banking: this division offers banking and other financial services to individuals, small-to-medium enterprises and commercial ventures. It serves the increasing need among Africa’s business and individual customers for banking products that can meet their shifting expectations and growing wealth. Specialised services include foreign exchange transactions, trade finance, leasing, investments and asset management.

The Maestro Debit Card enables customers to shop anywhere in the world and to draw cash from over 850 000 ATMs worldwide that display the Maestro or Cirrus logos. Standard Bank Swaziland also offers its own credit card that includes a revolving budget option and a garage card for vehicle running expenses.

With 10 points of representation, 64 ATMs and 200 point-of-sale terminals throughout the country, Standard Bank Swaziland has a large retail customer base. The goal is to expand its presence in the kingdom and to provide secure, simple and affordable banking solutions to an increasing number of communities by continually developing electronic service delivery channels.

Digital Self-service Channels: Moving forward, Standard Bank Swaziland is bringing strong focus on direct self-service channels that enable safe, convenient banking through various digital platforms. The digital services portfolio includes Mobile Banking (cellphone and Internet), Smart Apps, MyUpdates SMS alerts and Mobile Sales (remote account-opening).

Corporate Social Investment: the Bank plays an important role in contributing to the economic, business and social development of the country, supporting a number of charities, development schemes, sporting and banking bodies.

The Standard Bank Group
Normalised headline earnings for 2012 were ZAR 15-billion (US$ 1.8-billion) and total assets ZAR 1.549-billion (US$ 183-billion). Market capitalisation at 31 December 2012 was ZAR 191-billion (US$ 23-billion). The Group’s largest shareholder is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) - the world’s largest bank - with a 20.1 percent shareholding. In addition, the Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade- and deal-flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets.

Swaziland Development and Savings Bank (SwaziBank) went global in June 2014:
Managing Director, Zakhele Lukhele, announced that the new SwaziBank Debit Card will not only be valid in the almost 37-million MasterCard acceptance locations, but also operational in ATMs and Point of Sale terminals in over 210 countries. He said the main reason for partnering with MasterCard was that SwaziBank’s customers had to date been unable to access their funds when abroad, a challenge which the Bank was obliged to address under its Strategic Plan. The MD pointed out that SwaziBank is now a significant player in the local banking industry, effectively competing with other financial institutions, and that MasterCard is a leading provider of banking solutions globally. Lukhele said it was undisputed that the rise of electronic payments fuelled economic growth while delivering value to consumers, merchants and governments, and he was optimistic that the SwaziBank Debit Card will contribute towards the country’s economic growth.

PRIME MOVERS

Swaziland Development Finance Corporation (FINCORP) www.fincorp.co.sz was launched in 1995 by His Majesty King Mswati III. The organization commenced operations with a seed capital of E44-million and today has a gross loan portfolio of E890.1-million. This shows considerable success in reaching out to SMEs through a diverse product offering. FINCORP’s clientele comprises entrepreneurs at different business levels and diverse economic sectors: as such the products are structured to meet the diversity of business proposals that the organization encounters on a daily basis. To cater for entrepreneurs at grassroots level there is the Umtfombo loan product that was developed to assist hawkers, street vendors and marketers. They have access to loans from a minimum of E500 to a maximum of E10 000. A special product has been developed to cater for another category of SMEs, where clients can access loans from E10 001 to E100 000 at reduced interest rates – prime minus two percent per annum, repayable over 36 months.

As businesses grow from small to medium to large enterprises, their financial needs are then met by a vast array of products: these include Working Capital Loans, Order Finance, Asset Lease Finance, Line of Credit, Long-Term Contract Finance, General Agribusiness Loans and Sugarcane Loans. Demand for finance has seen the development of a new product - Property Development Loan - that is aimed at assisting entrepreneurs construct their own business premises instead of renting space. On the other hand, General Purpose Lending is offered by FINCORP’s subsidiary, First Finance Company, which grants loans to salaried individuals who work for organizations with a Memorandum of Understanding with First Finance, and to business people who have a legally registered business which has supplied a product or service to a reputable organization, has lodged an invoice but not yet been paid.

FINCORP has begun implementing its branch-rollout strategy which will enable it to be closer to clients, thus strengthening project monitoring and portfolio quality. Siphofaneni Branch was the first branch in the roll-out strategy, after being identified as a high-priority area, and it began operating in January 2014. January 2015 will see the opening of yet another branch, this at Tshaneni which has since been identified as another high-priority area.

The fulfilment of FINCORP’s purpose - “To economically empower Swazi entrepreneurs through the provision of accessible and sustainable financial services” - has attracted international recognition and seen FINCORP receive awards from the Global Trade Leaders Club (Business Quality Achievement Award) and the Association of African Development Finance Institutions, which ranked FINCORP in the Top 10 in Africa. FINCORP’s success has been guided by continuous innovation, an open-door policy, unique client relationships as well as sound strategic planning. As FINCORP continues to grow it cannot ignore the fact that such growth and continued sustainability would not have been attained without clients, especially those that are loyal and honour their financial obligations. It is through such loyal clients that FINCORP will continue “Helping Swazi Entrepreneurs to Help Themselves”, as its motto states.

First Finance Company www.firstfinance.co.sz is an authorised financial services provider, duly licensed by the FSRA, and offering general-purpose finance to salaried employees of the civil service, parastatals and selected private organizations. Its vision is ‘To be recognised as consistently improving the standard of living of clients across the country’. The Company was officially launched in January 2010 and has been well received by the market: business has grown significantly and due to the demand for its services, a third branch is soon to be opened to meet the dynamic financial needs of its clients. These are met by short-, medium- and long-term loan products. The services of First Finance Company are relevant to both consumers and entrepreneurs: in March 2012 it launched yet another product, Invoice Discounting, which appeals to small and medium enterprises. First Finance Company accepts discounted invoices which are less than 90 days old, from reputable companies, and makes cash instantly available to meet immediate business needs, such as paying wages and purchasing stock.

First Finance Company is determined to improve the livelihoods of its clients through the provision of a wide range of general purpose financial services in the most prudent, ethical and responsible manner. As a socially responsible credit provider it offers advisory services and further prides itself in offering innovative and timely financial services, processing transactions with minimal paperwork and a commitment to demonstrating absolute transparency and openness in credit dealings. Feedback received from the market indicates that the financial services offered by First Finance Company are generally considered to be among the most attractive within the non-banking financial institutions in Swaziland. Staff training is the focal area in terms of personal development and improvement of service delivery to the clientele.

Swaziland Building Society (SBS) www.sbs.co.sz is the country’s major provider of long-term mortgage lending and loan finance for the purchase of vacant land and completed property, and for constructing affordable housing. It has unsurpassed knowledge of the local mortgage bond market and meets client demand, including below-prime mortgage loans for residential property, repayment holidays and bond re-advances/rescheduling. SBS offers commercial mortgage loans to the business community to obtain and develop commercial property. This is linked to the Bond Re-Advance facility that enables businesses to secure loans within 24 hours to finance working capital requirements against bonded property. Lending products for individuals include Sipatji Advances for salaried clients, Insurance Policy Loans for policy holders of eligible policies issued by the Swaziland Royal Insurance Corporation and the Guaranteed Car Loan Scheme for staff of reputable employers. Other products include short-term loans against investments and deposits, and tailor-made housing schemes under Homeplan that enable borrowers to build on Swazi Nation Land by utilising pension funds as collateral.

Mortgage Portfolio features include extended repayment terms and loan rescheduling to assist during financial hardship and high interest rates. Other products include investments, savings such as Gold Accounts, payroll and transmission accounts, prime-linked deposits, special call accounts and group savings schemes. Investments and deposits are accepted at competitive interest rates in recognition of investor demand. Through the SBS/Swazimed Medical Plan, clients may join the medical aid scheme as individuals. SBS is committed to financing developers and end-users under the Urban Development Projects and offers finance at rates as low as one percent below prime, making repayments more affordable. A risk management platform/policy has been formulated and a strategic risk register compiled.

The Society has ATMs at all its branches in Mbabane, Manzini, Nhlangano and Siteki, and at the strategic points of Pigg’s Peak, Ezulwini, Matsapha and Big Bend. During the year, new ATM points were commissioned at Malkerns, Simunye, Buhleni, Swazi Plaza, the Ngwenya border and Nkonyeni. New branches were opened at Pigg’s Peak and Matsapha, while a further outlet was under construction at Matata, Big Bend. As well as growing its footprint, SBS has launched mobile and Internet services.

Social responsibility activities are centred around Sports, Education, Arts/Culture and Health sector sponsorships. Annual financial contributions have been made to the Swaziland Tennis Association, the Swaziland Breast and Cervical Cancer Network, Hospice at Home, Hope House, Swaziland Action Against Abuse and many more. A Staff Wellness Policy encourages personnel to manage their health in order to live long and productive lives.

During the financial year ended March 2014, SBS’s assets grew by seven percent to E1.6- billion, mainly attributable to 24 percent growth in surplus funds. After-tax profit was E48.1-million, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year.

ASSET-MANAGEMENT, INSURANCE & FUNDS

Liberty Life/STANLIB Swaziland www.stanlib.com: Liberty Life was founded in 1958 by Sir Donald Gordon as the Liberty Life Association of Africa, with initial capital of E100 000. Today, Liberty Holdings has a market capitalisation of E24.9-billion and a presence in 15 African countries, including Swaziland. Since selling its first insurance policy 50 years ago, Liberty has become one of Southern Africa’s leading insurance and investment groups: in 2011 the Group headline earnings were E2.663-billion, with long-term insurance cash-flow of E4.2-billion and over E450-billion assets under management. Most of Liberty Life’s policy-backed assets are managed by STANLIB, established in 1993 by combining the asset management, wealth management and wealth product marketing divisions of the Standard Bank and Liberty Life groups. STANLIB is wholly owned by Liberty Life.

Liberty Life Swaziland is an authorised financial service provider: the company obtained its operating licence in 2008 and primarily offers insurance cover for death, disability and other life-changing events. This cover is sold through brokers, affinity partners and Standard Bank Swaziland. The Vision is to be a market leader and trusted life insurer in Swaziland, and a set of values is adhered to: interacting with respect and integrity by being honest, trustworthy and transparent; taking responsibility for attitudes, actions and development; providing excellent customer service, from end to end, all the time; maintaining open channels of communication that encourage freedom of expression.

STANLIB manages a combination of retirement funds, retail collective investments and money market investments. In each market, STANLIB’s philosophy is to build indigenous businesses through a transfer of asset management skills and global systems, which contribute to the development of sustainable African expertise. STANLIB has managed assets in Africa since 1993 and today has companies in Botswana, Lesotho, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Sudan and Uganda. It also manages mandates in Mozambique and Sudan. The local office was established in 1999 and manages assets worth just over E7.5-billion. STANLIB’s expert investment franchises operate in the equity, fixed income and property investment sectors. STANLIB Swaziland is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Holdings registered in Swaziland, affording local investors the opportunity to invest in the Swazi, South African and Global Financial Markets. The main clients include major companies, utilities, retirement and insurance funds, parastatals and high net-worth individuals.

Swaziland Royal Insurance Corporation (SRIC) www.sric.sz – established 1974 – has as its main business activity the provision of short-term insurance, life assurance to individuals, and pension administration. In June 2014 its Board of Directors declared that for the year ended December 2013 the Corporation’s seven shareholders – the Government of Swaziland, Munich Reinsurance Company of Africa Limited, Cougar Investment Holdings Limited, Inba Holdings Limited, Swaziland Public Service Pension Fund, Zurich Insurance Company South Africa, Old Mutual Life Assurance Company and South African Eagle Insurance Limited - will share a dividend of E163-million, as compared to E130-million declared in the previous year. The E163-million comprised E140-million from SRIC’s non-life (short-term) business and E23-million from its life (long-term) business.

Chairman of the Board, Kenneth Mbuli, said that the Corporation’s short-term insurance business remains well capitalised with a strong solvency level: the latter, as at 31 December 2013, stood at E265.1-million. In 2012 the level was E277.8-million, compared to the minimum industry standard of E118-million which is 50 percent of written premium. The long-term business was also well capitalised, with excess assets over liabilities of E238.6-million compared to 2012’s E223.1-million. As at 31 December 2013, SRIC’s capital adequacy requirement was E97.3-million, from E91.7-million in 2012. Mbuli said he was pleased that the Corporation’s improved capital position had enabled the Board to recommend a substantially increased dividend year-on-year.

The Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF) www.pspf.co.sz was established in 1993 for the management and administration of pensions for government employees. The scheme is run as a Defined Benefit pension and provides the following products for its members and their dependants:

  • Retirement Annuities
  • Death Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Other pension-related benefits

Membership consists of about 36 000 active (contributing) members and 25 000 pensioners (principal pensioners and dependants). It is fully administered in-house and financed through employer and employee contributions of 15 and five percent of monthly salary, respectively. The Fund’s gross reserves have grown significantly over the years, reaching about E13.6-billion by March 2013: a large proportion of income accrues from a diversified investment portfolio in both local and external markets. The funding level as at 2013 stood at 84.4 percent.

Sincemphetelo Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund www.mva.org.sz CEO, Helmon Vilakati, declared in 2014 that the high performance attained in the last five years had demanded an expansion of organizational structure, specifically an increase from four to nine in the number of departments. He said that a Transformational Strategic Plan had identified capacity constraints within the Fund to carry out its mandate, hence resources were allocated to certain areas of operations whereby systems and processes were better aligned with strategic goals. Key staff were attached to other MVA organizations in the region and their findings used in the restructuring process.

Vilakati said it was in response to client demand for service excellence that the number of departments were more than doubled to comprise Claims, Finance, HR/Administration, Customer Service, Case Management, Communications, Internal Audit, Investigations and Claims Recoveries. He also declared that for the Fund to perform optimally it was important to achieve financial sustainability: the most recently published figures showed an increase in annual revenue from E70- to E85-million and a year-on-year increase in assets from E473- to E537-million.