Letshego Holdings Limited’s provisional banking licence in Namibia, which ended mid-July, has been extended by another six months, BG Business has learnt. The Pan-African micro-lender is currently trading with a provisional banking licence, which was first granted in July 15, 2014.
It has already been extended twice due to a variety of reasons. According to Letshego’s head of corporate affairs, Namibian, Mythria Sambasivan-George, Namibian authorities recently passed a law stipulating that any bank that sets up in the country must have at least 25 percent of indigenous investors. Before Letshego’s provisional banking licence was issued, that was not the case.
This has forced Letshego to ask for an extension, primarily to identify local investors. Letshego Holdings owns 85 percent of its Namibian subsidiary. “We still have to clear the issue of shareholding,” the group Chief Executive Chris Low told BG Business after a press conference on Wednesday. He is ’99 percent’ confident that the company will be granted a full banking licence come next year. “Operationally we are fine,” he said. The central bank in Namibia has already inspected their operation. This week, Letshego executives reiterated that they are still on a path to become a broader financial service firm. Such company, they said should be able to take deposits, savings and associate services.
This will mean the BSE listed firm will continue to seek approvals in jurisdictions where they want to offer deposit taking services. Letshego’s companies in Rwanda and Mozambique have commenced deposit-taking activities. In Botswana, the central bank has rejected its application for a banking licence. It is understood that the micro-lender had wanted a specific licence of deposit taking, which Bank of Botswana was allegedly unable to give out since it does not have such provision.
BG Business understands that, government is already working on a draft paper, which if approved by stakeholders and ultimately parliament, will allow for tier banking licence issuance.This basically means a specific licence within the banking industry, same as in Rwanda. As of now, Letshego does not have any plans to re-apply for a banking licence in Botswana where it first planted its roots 17 years ago.