Finance: BANKSETA Conference tackles the future of Banking in Africa
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Over the past two days, senior financial sector managers and BANKSETA programme beneficiaries enjoyed a taste of outstanding presentations and stimulating discussions from both local and international key note speakers who are experts in their fields, at this year's 4th BANKSETA International Conference, Gauteng.“Globalisation and the Future of Banking" was the focus for this year and presentations highlighted crucial issues affecting banking today, which include the effects of globalisation and the development of emerging countries and the key role that knowledge and technology plays in the financial sector.
Global trends and the fast pace of technological advancement has a direct impact on banking. The conference enabled delegates to consider the latest insights into the future of banking, obtain a global perspective on the industry and be informed of where IT is taking banking in the future.
The research and benchmarking provided the audience with a contextual base in order for them to determine what is relevant to the core of skills development across all banks. This view enabled the sector representatives to look at the skills shortage currently being experienced in the banking sector with fresh eyes.
Hot topics of the conference related to banking included: Islamic Banking, IT and Banking, Women in Finance, Future Trends and Leadership and Innovation.
"The richness of the discussions was due to the diversity of views that were expressed. In selecting the leading participants at this conference, we did not hesitate to choose speakers who would challenge our established views and those of others", says CEO of BANKSETA, Max Makhubalo.
Ferial Haffajee, Editor in Chief at the Mail and Guardian opened the conference with an insightful and honest overview of globalisation which is "sweeping the corridors of every business". She touched on the rise in food and oil prices and the crippling effects it is having on the poorest of the poor. She also looked at the debt burden, which indeed constitutes a major impediment to economic growth and development in South Africa.
The rise in living costs, coupled with xenophobic attacks, in South Africa and all over the world, is in some way a response to Globalization. In her address she pointed out that the time is now ripe to start delivering highly educated and skilled youth to propel Africa into the future as a dominant force.
Futurist and Political Analyst Daniel Silke presented the possibilities that emerging countries such as China, Brazil, India and Russia as well as Africa face in the next 20 to 30 years. In his presentation entitled "Tracking the Future" he illustrated how China, India, Russia and Brazil or BRIC's are the drivers of the new world. He indicated that by 2050 China will have the largest economy followed by the US and India. China's transport infrastructure is booming. India's skills creation is rapidly increasing with the second largest pool of scientists in the world. With new increased buying powers, superior brands and technological advances these four countries are changing the way people socialize, work and increasing the competitiveness of other countries and businesses across the globe.
Succeeding in Africa and particularly in South Africa is all about changing our mindset. In Dr Hischam El-Agamy's presentation "Africa's Perspective" – he stated that if South Africa fails, Africa will fail. He pointed out that South Africa has many strong points which are well suited to foster development. We must build on those instead of limiting our development due to our weaknesses.
As the Director for the International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland, he pointed out that a successful team is one that makes "one plus one equal 11". He reported that South Africa, like many other countries, have many challenges ahead and everything required to succeed. According to the IMD World Competitiveness Report, South Africa has a booming tourism industry, cheap electricity and good tax structures but lacks the execution abilities. He says now is the time to start implementing the right programmes.
Hamza Farooqui, CEO of Convergence Group enlightened delegates about the growing concept of Islamic Banking. The Islamic Finance industry globally is worth US$ 800bn and growing at a rate of 15% annually. We learned that South Africa's commercial banks are beginning to offer this service to the market, and BANKSETA has recognized the skills gap to train more people in the industry to service this rapidly expanding market. It is incumbent on banks in South Africa and Africa, to understand this market and to grow the infrastructural needs.
General Manager of PIC Solutions, Nick Geimer, presented on the Future of Financial Services in Africa which got many delegates talking on how the sector can get the unbanked banked. He estimated that about one Billion people in Africa are unbanked and there is a way to penetrate this market and benefit from it. He challenged banks to innovate and increase their profits while ensuring that the poor have a secure place to keep their money and drive socio economic development. He says South Africa has to take this unbanked market seriously and stop experimenting or other organisations will take our place in the market. In order to do so South African banking institutions have to develop new business models, new skills and new channels to drive accessibility.
Makhubalo concluded: "We face an exciting and uncertain future in the banking sector and at the same time the learning and development must never stop. There are risks to be taken, but the refusal to look ahead and to move forward may be the greatest risk of all. This is reason enough for us to want to host a similar conference in 2010 Gauteng."
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