Bank of Namibia’s Lowering the Repo Rate – What Does It Mean for You?

The Bank of Namibia, the central bank of Namibia, last week announced that it has reduced the repo rate to 5.5%, which is now at the lowest level since independence in 1990 while the prime lending rate is now at its lowest level since May 1974 when interest rates stood at 9%. (Economist.com.na).

But will this help you? The repo rate is the rate of interest that commercial banks such as Standard Bank, FNB, Nedbank, and Bank Windhoek charge each other; for example; if Standard Bank is possibly temporarily short of cash, it may apply for a loan from FNB or perhaps from BoN at that repo rate which it must pay it back at most within 24 hours.

Now, since the repo rate is lower, that means these commercial banks should charge lower interest rates on your new loan application. This is done basically that BoN is trying to encourage loan lending in the economy; to help increase cash flow and hence spending in the economy, and this could help increase or boost economic activities, hence economic growth on the macro level.

But does this work in Namibia? Perhaps not; with the unemployment rate in Namibia I’ve estimated it to currently be at 54%, that means more than half of the Namibian people are unable to apply and be qualified for personal loans. And those who are currently employed still may not be able to apply and get qualified for personal bank loans as desired due to; either that their salary and wages are lower or simply that most Namibians’ personal credit history reports have accumulated to an high adverse ratings that for most to apply and get qualified for personal loans at the four mentioned commercial banks in Namibia may not be possible.

So how does the lowering of the repo rate help the economy? Well, may be not much, but it’s better than nothing.

And just because the repo rate is lower, this may not mean that these four commercial banks will actually lower their interest rates on your personal loan need; as their ultimate goal is profit making and not charity, and due to a possible lower demand (persons applying and get qualified for personal loans) vs the limited supply of commercial banks available in Namibia, these banks may not even succumb to lowering the current interest rate on your next personal loan application.

In short; the current lowering of the BoN’s repo rate may simply mean peanuts to most of the Namibian people.

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