By BENEDICT TEMBO
PADDY Mukando, the master of ceremonies during the inauguration of the Indo Zambia Bank Limited corporate head office in Lusaka aptly put it that the new building is a testament that IZB is here to help develop Zambia. Lusaka Province minister Sheal Mulyata added her voice to the state-of-art infrastructure, which she said has added to the aesthetics of Lusaka.
Ms Mulyata said the gigantic corporate head office located at the corner of Addis Ababa and Great East Roads has not only changed the landscape of Lusaka but also beautified it.
IZB board chairperson Michael Gondwe described the infrastructure as a milestone in the history of the bank. Dr Gondwe also described the landmark building as an architectural marvel. Physical presence of a bank has always symbolised financial strength and confidence in the eyes of customers. Additionally, it also brings out physical proximity to the clients.
In Zambia today, there are several branches spread out in the country to reach out to customers. However, with digital banking now the order of the day, banks are banking on less and less brick and mortar branches. Nevertheless, it is so interesting that banks are relocating their head offices the central business district.
Standard Chartered Bank Absa Bank, Atlas Mara and now Indo-Zambia Bank are examples of banks which have moved away from the congested central business district. These may look as ordinary decisions but not at all. They are strategic decisions which impact on the cost of doing business. For example one may need to spend so much time to access a bank’s head office along Cairo due to lack of parking space. Like Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane said, time is very critical in one’s productivity. The more time wasted, the more we lose on productivity as a country.
Secondly, there is the issue of insecurity. Many customers’ vehicles are tampered with and valuables stolen or even vehicles stolen in broad day light. Again, this may seem to be a daily occurrence, but it impacts the insurance business. The move by banks away from the Lusaka CBD is mainly driven by the fact that it is more convenient to customers. The CBD is congested. As a result, parking is very difficult in the CBD. In addition, the safety of vehicles is not assured in the CBD. The new compounds offer both the safety of vehicles and assured parking.
Such an environment ends up in huge insurance claims, which is not good for the economy. Relocating of bank head offices hence beefs up security and further increases productivity because staff in serene environments are able to concentrate and produce quality work and increases productivity and hence Gross Domestic Product.
The move by banks away from the Lusaka CBD is mainly driven by the fact that it is more convenient to customers. The CBD is congested. As a result, parking is very difficult in the CBD. In addition, the safety of vehicles is not assured in the CBD. The new compounds offer both the safety of vehicles and assured parking.
In addition the building of new offices is increasing the real estate value of the city of Lusaka through the construction of modern offices.
There is need to decongest the CBD just as there is need for more rebranding of the city of Lusaka through the construction of modern office buildings. Overall, decongesting the town centre creates higher productivity and efficiency in the economy. Most banks are moving from old structures and putting up very modern buildings with very high values. This again beefs up the GDP of not only Lusaka, the capital city but the country as a whole.
The greater city of Lusaka needs such structures for its modernity, after all.