UANGUTA’S ROAD TO SUCCESS

By Jemima Beukes
February 2012
On the Move
Former Head of Research at the Bank of Namibia (BoN), Ebson Uanguta is now the bank’s deputy governor.

Uanguta was appointed in December last year.

Uanguta is not new to the financial world having served the central bank for 15 years as well as four years spent with the International Monetary Fund to prove his prowess in the international banking industry.

He was an advisor to the IMF Executive Director.

During his four years at the IMF, Uanguta was in charge of the Anglophone countries overlooking 21 African countries including Liberia, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Uganda as well as Namibia, advising their key ministries on financial matters and economic stability.

He notes that BoN is currently looking at how best they can adjust their policies in order to cushion Namibians against the effects of the current global financial crisis, which started in 2008 because its economy does not operate in a vacuum.

The crisis was a result of most of the world’s prominent banks not being able to meet their debt payments but still borrowed money to stay financially viable.

This subsquently immersed many banks in massive debts and had to close down including Wall Street bank’s Lehman Brothers; one of the biggest banks in America that eventually filed for backruptcy.

The US government bailed out most of the ill-fated banks in an effort to help heal the situation and markets recovery period of two years.

However, in late 2010, the stock markets plummeted again, leaving most of the Eurozone in huge debts.

On the other hand, in 2008, governments helped banks recover but with the fall of the stock market in late 2010, they had problems of their own, which worsened the situation significantly.

“We don’t know how things will unfold. Namibia is part of the global economy and if things go well with the rest of the world, it affects us positively but if things go bad, Namibia may also be badly affected,” he says.

He adds that a uniformed currency and centralised central bank for Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is possible but he says that it wouldn’t be child play.

“It is achievable but it can’t be done overnight. We need to put in place a few things first. There are some differences in Sadc countries and the only way forward is to factor these differences in order to bring these countries into a single entity,” he says.

Furthermore, Uanguta notes that Namibia’s inflation, which has been moving upwards during the past three months is mainly attributed to the escalation of food and fuel prices.

However, this situation is likely to remain stable, according to Uanguta, adding that the repo-rate has been left unchanged in an effort to stimulate economic growth.

The repo-rate is the rate at which the central bank lends money to the commercial banks and with the repo-rate stable, commercial banks are in a position to offer consumers low interest rates, which make the cost of money cheaper.

In the mean time, Uanguta, who believes that Namibia has the potential to become a world economic leader, calls for a tripartite social contract in labour, Government and private sectors in a bid to improve economic perfomance.

“Workers have a role to play and so do the leaders of the trade unions . . . all of us are economic agents. There is need to organise ourselves and understand our role as a nation.”

He adds that Namibia has the potential to become the Singapore of Africa but Namibians must start contributing to the economic growth of the country in order to realise this vision.

“We can only achieve if we all make consented efforts from all walks of life,” he says.

By its Independence in 1965, Singapore’s economy was burdened with a small domestic market and lack of labour resources.

In an effort to change its situation and fire- up growth, the Government adopted a pro-business, foreign friendly investment and export-oriented economic policy framework, as well as motivating public-owned corporations’ involvement.

This approach boosted the country’s economy tremendously and it soon became one of the leading economies of the world.

In essence, Uanguta adds that the BoN’s role is to address economic issues and that positive economic growth will most certainly create employment opportunities through advising the Government on policies.

Uanguta says he did not see this promotion coming, yet admits that the appointment was not much of a surprise. He says he is a task-oriented person who sees this promotion as a result of tasks achieved or otherwise a reward for his hardwork.

Furthermore, Uanguta notes that 20 years are merely enough to educate and transfer skills and that the country needs more years to localise banks.

“The issue of localising banks is something to be taken gradually and not rushed over, to ensure that whatever we want to get out will be achieved with maximum results.” PF



ALSO ON THE MOVE

DEREK WRIGHT,
Derek was once appointed the managing director during the period between 1999 and 2000; a postion he took up after serving Ginsburg Malan and Carsons Consultants and Actuaries as Chairman and MD.

Wright acquired his education in South Africa where he obtained, amongst others, a certificate for competence – Pension Fund Management from Business Law Centre of the University of Orange, Free State.

HOFNI SHIKONGO
Hofni holds a postgraduate diploma in Law: (Arbitration & Conciliation) from the University of Lesotho/UCT & Unam as well as a national diploma in Personnel Management from the Polytechnic of Namibia. He held numerous Human Resource positions where he spent most of his time giving pieces of advice on Labour matters.


EVELYN BREUER
Breuer is the founding member of an agency; World-Intern as well as the Ifeta Trust. She has 10 years’ experience in the development industry largely in state and privately-owned as well as public and charity sectors.

Breuer holds a bachelors’ degree in Biomedical Technology from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She also holds a marketing diploma from the Polytechnic of Namibia.

CONVILLE BRITZ
The Governmental Institute of Pension Fund recently appointed Conville Britz as the General Manager, Finance and Investment. Britz is a qualified chartered accountant (CA), holding a Bcomm and Bcompt (Hons) as well as a postgraduate diploma in Auditing.

He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the GIPF, experience accrued during the years he served as chief internal auditor for Bank of Namibia, as well as his time with KPMG and FNB Holdings Group.