Last month marked ten years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalisation of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state.
Ghanaian bank rewards customers with gold bars and coins
The bank, in a year-long drive in its savings for gold promo, persuaded customers around the country to save, awarding more than 105 of them with the precious metal worth around 500,000 cedi ($126,103.61).
We are particularly concerned about the persistent high lending rates
Ghana’s Lottery Authority announced, at a customer appreciation ceremony in the capital, Accra at the weekend that the ultimate winner scooped 1kg 24 carat gold bar, while the second runner-up swept half kilogram 24 carat gold, with the third person grabbing a 250 grammes 24 carat gold bar.
The bank’s initiative has been hailed by government officials, as Ghana is said to have one of the lowest savings ratio in sub Saharan Africa, recording only 8 to 12 per cent, against 25 per cent average for the region.
“This is an impediment to rapid economic growth and development, our ability to increase the savings rate depends on many factors with the most important being development of new savings products,” deputy finance minister, Mona Helen Quartey said at the event.
She said a culture of saving could support significantly high levels of investment needed to propel the West African country into higher economic growth, but added “the task for financial sector reforms is far from being accomplished”.
“The industry is still faced with challenges of low levels of savings reflected in large savings and investment gap, high level of currency outside the banking sector and high level of financial exclusion,” Quartey said.
“With a large number of Ghanaians unable to participate in the formal financial system.
“Domestic resource mobilisation has become very important in how we finance our sustainable development goals, how we finance the African Union agenda 2063 and even more importantly how we finance our own 40-year long term national development plan.”
Ghana’s financial system is also challenged with high cost of financial intermediation mirrored in the high spread between borrowing and lending rate and limited access to credit by small and medium enterprises.
The country’s macroeconomic stability is seeing steady improvement, Quartey said, following the International Monetary Fund commendation early this year.
“Therefore, there is no doubt that Ghana is now poised for growth, financial institutions now have the opportunity to expand their services and reduce their cost,” she said.
“We are particularly concerned about the persistent high lending rates, even though short term interest rates have come down.”
Julius Debra, a government official, said the institution was one of few financial institutions that aided needy communities and stayed true to their corporate social responsibility objectives to empower the country’s citizens through financial literacy.
“When people are financially empowered, it reflects directly on the economic foundation of our beloved Ghana,” he said.
“When people are poor, our nation is poor, every organisation that has a culture of rewarding customers, cares about the development and wellbeing of the people.”
The bank’s managing director, Edward Effah said the bank has reached significant milestones and affected lives positively in several Ghanaian communities.
Despite the 2014 and 2015 economic downturn, bank officials said, they register impressive returns with substantial growth in assets and deposits.
“The total assets of the bank grew by 36 per cent to over GH₵4 billion, this increment was driven by strong growth in customer deposits, which increased by 69 per cent to 3 billion cedi,” Effah said.
The bank says it now has nearly 1 million customers.