Stanbic Bank Uganda, a unit of South Africa’s Standard Bank Group, said on Tuesday its pretax profit dropped 11 percent in the first half of the year from the same period in 2016, squeezed by low interest earnings.

The bank earned 128.4 billion shillings ($36 million) in the six month period, down from 144.1 billion, results emailed to Reuters showed.

Patrick Mweheire, chief executive, said the lower profit was largely brought about by a lower interest rate environment. But he said the second half held better prospects as individual and commercial borrowers take advantage of much lower rates.

Banks have been lowering lending rates over the last year in sync with easing by the central bank of Uganda. The average lending rate in June was about 21 percent, compared with 25 percent in February last year, according to central bank data.

The central bank started policy easing in April 2016, gradually cutting its benchmark rate from 17 percent to 10 percent.

Stanbic said its net interest income in the first six months of 2016 was 178 billion shillings, down from 183 billion a year before, taxation.

This however is decline of 12 billion Shillings from the net profit of 107 billion Shillings recorded in the first half of last year, although still above the net profit of 68 billion Shillings registered during the same time in 2015.

The Banks Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Mweheire described the results as a solid performance in a challenging but improving economic environment. Mweheire said the profitability was driven by the Banks support to trade and infrastructure developments with an excess of one trillion Shillings.

Support to infrastructure and trade according to Mweheire provided a much needed buffer from a challenging economic environment characterized by low private sector credit growth and low aggregate demand.

He expressed optimism that the second half will be even better given the downward revisions of the Central Bank Rate. Bank of Uganda has revised the Central Bank Rate (CBR) four times in the first half of the year and maintained it at 10 percent for the month of August 2017.

Mweheire hopes that the low CBR will stimulate borrowing and much needed private sector credit to jump start the economy.

Mweheire added that Stanbic Bank collected tax in excess of 1.75 trillion Shillings on behalf of the government through its network and contributed over 68 billion Shillings for the first six months of 2017. The Bank reports growth in customer deposits by 388 billion Shillings and increased its loan portfolio by 140 billion Shillings. It’s off – balance sheet items posted a 271 billion Shillings growth.

He is optimistic that the economy will grow faster as individual and commercial borrowers take advantage of much lower rates.

“We have reduced our primary rate by 5 percent over the last 12 months and will continue to support our customers by introducing new products and services that make a difference.” Mweheire said.

Meanwhile Mweheire said Stanbic Bank has steadily navigated through the hard times by trying to keep non-performing loans as low as it can.

A number of banks including Stanbic Bank have been feeling the effect non-performing loans as a number of local businesses operators went through financial distress. Reports from Bank of Uganda (BoU) revealed that Nonperforming Loans (NPL) had hit to about 1.8 trillion Shillings in 2016 up from 573 billion Shillings at the end of 2015.

A higher percent of such loans showed that banks had difficulty in collecting interest and principal on their credits. It was feared that many commercial banks were likely to post less profits for the banks in Uganda and, possibly, bank closures.

But Mweheire says Stanbic Bank has managed to keep non-performing loans at less than two percent.

Mweheire added that they were concerned when the non-performing loans in the industry exceeded one trillion Shillings by December 2016. But he says that has been happening in the banking industry many times.