Barclays Bank Zambia is expected to complete its transition process to rebrand as Absa by June, 2020, says group deputy chief executive officer Peter Matlare.

And Matlare has reiterated the group’s commitment towards investing in Zambia’s energy sector, among others.

Meanwhile, Matlare has hailed Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor Dr Denny Kalyalya as one of Africa’s best governors as evidenced by Zambia’s stable monetary policy.

Speaking to journalists on the side-lines of the just-ended 28th World Economic Forum (WEF), Wednesday, Matlare announced that Barclays Bank Zambia is expected to complete its transition process to rebrand as Absa by June, next year, following Barclays’ move to exit the African continent in 2017, closing the British bank’s 100-year history on the African continent.

In July, 2018, Barclays Bank Africa Group Limited officially changed its name to Absa Africa Group Limited.

“In terms of the agreement with Barclays Plc, from June 2020 onwards, we will not have the right to use the Barclays Bank brand in Zambia or any of the other markets where we’ve got Barclays at the moment. There’s one slight variation to that in that, the credit cards will have an additional year after that, and it’s simply because as you issue credit cards, we wait for them to run out, rather than wanting to unnecessarily incur new costs. But other than that, by June, 2020, that would have come to an end,” Matlare said in Cape Town.

He said that service provision under Absa would entail rolling out new infrastructure.

“The Barclays brand on the (African) continent has a very strong heritage, so it’s very much about how do we ensure that we continue to build on that heritage. Whilst we will be called Absa, those fundamentals that we believe are important for the brand have to continue for the next 100 years. If you look at the banking industry as a whole, it’s in mid-flight in terms of transformation with all of the digital and other platforms that are coming in. We can’t keep the old infrastructure and then put in a new brand over the infrastructure, so we’ve been investing since 2014, incrementally, around all of these businesses. And with the separation from Barclays, we have further enhanced that investment,” he explained.

And asked whether the bank had any plans to continue investing in Zambia’s energy sector to help contribute towards narrowing the power deficit, Matlare reiterated the group’s commitment towards investing in Zambia’s energy sector, among others.

Barclays Bank Zambia helped to arrange financing of an unprecedented US $828 million for the Maamba Collieries thermal power plant in 2015 to help boost the country’s electricity generation.

“We’ve always got to do that which our clients are looking for. So, the Maamba Collieries proposition was a very important one. We also, however, have to continue to evaluate how do we make sure that those investments we’ve continued to make sustain this world of ours. So, for example, in South Africa, we’ve been a very big investor in renewable (energy). So, one of the things we will talking to our clients about is, what is the renewable energy space look like? We’ve got to continue to take a long-term view about the financing we put in place in order to have sustainable economies, rather than creating a different set of challenges a few years down the line,” he said.

Meanwhile, Matlare hailed Dr Kalyalya for providing monetary policy stability in Zambia’s economy in recent years.

He responded to a question on whether the group had any measures they were going to put in place at country-level to waive collateral on personal loan facilities amidst a high interest rate environment.

“The macro-environment of any country will always influence the cost of money. So, I think you have one of the best governors on the continent! He is a very prudent governor and he has a firm hand in trying to manage a number of these challenges the Zambian economy has been going through for a while. You have got to give him credit for how he has managed that. We, as banks, all have to be prudent in what we do because if we start extending more and more loans in high interest rate environments, the Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) will become a crisis. Once you do that, you create a different set of headaches for the very governor who is trying to manage these different macro-challenges,” said Matlare.

“So, it’s not about us, simplistically, waiving certain conditions; it’s about a principled, rational, prudent lending position.”