The Association of Rural Banks (ARB) Ghana, the apex body of all rural banks in the country, has held its 20th Biennial General Meeting and Rural Banking Excellence Awards at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in the Upper East Region. The two-day event was themed “Rural banking-Beyond 40 Years”.
Speaking to the participants, the Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tongraan Kugblisong Nanlebegtang, who chaired the event, encouraged Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) to maintain trust within rural communities and also to grant swift loans to promote small scale enterprises. He called on RCBs to improve their services for a dependent micro economy in the near future.
The President of the Association, Dr. Nana Boamah Akowuah, in his address educated participants that the Rural and Community Banking (RCB) concept was intended to create flexible banking units to meet the peculiar needs of small rural entrepreneurs and a catalyst for their socio-economic development. “Presently, there are over 144 RCBs with over 700 branch networks in operation throughout the country”, he stated. He further stated that, RCBs are technologically inclined with experienced staff and Board of Directors who provide efficient and quality banking service to the Ghanaian populace.
Dr. Nana Boamah Akowuah, implored the government to respond swiftly to ARBs petition with regards to the reduction of corporate tax and the revision of Corporate Governance Transactional Provision issued by the Central Bank (Bank of Ghana).
He stated further that, according to the Efficiency Monitoring Unit (EMU) of ARB Apex Bank Report for the second quarter of 2018, the capital adequacy ratio of the rural banking industry was 18.39% which is higher than the regulatory benchmark of 10%. “Performance in total assets, deposits and net worth have also improved as compared to some decades ago. As at June 2018, the rural banking total assets were GH¢3, 800.67 billion, net worth was GH¢3, 024.43 billion, and a deposit of GH¢ 500.39 billion”.
Honorable Patience Bayege, the Upper East Regional Minister, as Special Guest of Honor, in her keynote address indicated that, the forty years of rural banking in Ghana has been very successful but stressed that there was still room for improvement in pursuing higher economic heights in the sector.
The Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank, Mr. Kojo Mattah in his presentation at the BGM, threw light on progresses made by the ARB, challenges, corporate social responsibilities, publications of financial statements, partnerships with Ghana Commodity Exchange Networking, cyber security, amongst other things.
As part of activities for the BGM, elections for various national executive positions for the Association was held with the support of the Upper East Regional division of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. Each contestant was given two-minutes for introduction and insights into their manifestos to convince delegates to vote for them.
At the end of the voting process, Mr. Dan Owusu who contested unopposed was declared president, Mrs. Akangbagbin Asokia, a retired employee of GCB won her contested position as secretary, Mr. Kwesi Adusei Opoku won the keenly contested position of Treasurer while Mr. Martin Mireku won the position of Legal Adviser.
The Executive Director of the Association, Mrs. Comfort Owusu gave the closing remarks while Alhaji Sherriff Adams said the Muslim prayer to bring day one’s event to a successful end.
The 20th BGM ended with a dinner and the Rural Banking Excellence Awards on the day two, which commenced with a photo shoot, classical dinner set-up with beautiful tunes played by the Upper East Regional Division of the Ghana Police Band. Guests were served to mouthwatering and finger licking culinary delights and assorted foods, including grilled and fried guinea fowl which were temptingly arrayed to add color to and glitz to the event.
Giving the purpose of the gathering, Dr. Nana Akowuah Boamah, stated that, “in the life of every institution, there must be a period to look back and reflect on historical antecedents in order to develop strategic future orientation through lessons learnt. After all, it is often said in our local parlance that the person who charts a path may not know how crooked it is behind him or her”.
The Awards began with the presentation of citations to Council and Executive members who have worked hard over the years to promote the growth and development of the ARB and its members.
Fiaseman Rural Bank from the Western Region won the overall best RCB, while Bongo Rural Bank from the Upper East Region secured the Most Promising Bank award. Capital Rural Bank and Anlo Rural Bank were first and second runner-ups for the Most Profitable Bank while Builsa Community Bank won that category.
The Western Region stole the show when three banks from there were awarded the Loan Financing award category. The Amensie West Rural Bank were the overall winners of the category followed by Ahantaman and Fiaseman as first and second runner-ups respectively.
Akuapim Rural Bank won the Most Compliant Bank, leaving Kintampo Rural Bank from the Brong Ahafo and Amansie West Rural Bank from the Western Region as first and second runner-ups correspondingly. Naara Rural Bank were the winners for the Deposit Mobilization Category of the awards shadowed by Sefwiman Rural Bank from the Western region and Microfin Rural Bank from the Central Region as first and second runner-ups.
Best U-Connect bank award went to Amantin and Kasei Rural Bank while the award for Best bank in Apex link i-trans paying Bank went to BESSFA Rural Bank in the Upper East Region and Best bank in Apex link i-trans receiving went to Upper Amenfi Rural Bank from the Western Region.
Winners for the Best Regional RCBs Awards were; Amansie West Rural Bank for the Ashanti Region, Kaaseman Rural Bank –Brong Ahafo, Microfin Rural Bank-Central Region, South Akim Rural Bank-Eastern Region, Ga Rural Bank-Greater Accra, Bonzali Rural Bank, Bongo Rural Bank-Upper East Region, Lawra Area Rural Bank Upper West, Anlo Rural Bank-Volta Region and Fiaseman Rural Bank-Western Region.
The event ended with photo-shoots’ of council Members and winners displaying their trophies.
The Biennial General Meeting was instituted to create a platform for the Council of the Association to account for their stewardship and also discuss issues relevant to the development of the Rural Banking Sector.
By Afia Nyarko Asare