Increasing capacity of local banks in international operations

At long last, a Ghanaian bank has ventured out to pitch its sail elsewhere on the West African coast. While Nigerian banks have been on that tangent for more than a decade, our indecision and evasiveness have made our banking sector still concentrated on the basics of collecting deposits and paying out same with some interest.

To the outsiders it seems our bankers are not adventurous enough to take financial control over the West African coast.

Considering the non-Ghanaian banks, especially, the likes of UBA and GT Banks who have taken advantage of the huge trade volumes between Ghana and Nigeria to make a huge impact on the market, we have seen how fast they have grown, making profit from trade between the two countries.

From Aflao, right on the border with Togo, the Nigerians banks are presently enabling their travelling citizens to access the services they enjoy at these banks. At the end of the day, the Nigerian banks declare profit and based on our investment laws officially, transfer such huge amounts back to their country.

So while their banks including all the foreign owned banks are making and repatriating profit, ours are languishing at the bottom of the financial ladder faced with threats of closure.

That is what our banks should be doing; we are not advocating for our local banks to be treated with kids’ gloves when they go against the law.

Now GCB Limited, with a huge reputation as far as banking in Ghana is concerned, is sitting on the sidelines while others with less financial strength pick the cherries – our own is waiting for the leftovers.

We are happy that the bank’s management has realized that the way to go is to start correspondent banking with Sierra Leone and Liberia. In terms of business flow, one may argue that these are war ravaged countries and may not have much to follow and therefore not worth worrying one’s head over.

The reality however is that these newly emerging markets seem to hold much more promise than the developed markets on the West African coast. With the wars over, this is the time for reconstruction and no matter how small the Liberian and Sierra Leonean markets are they stand the chance of attracting foreign capital for the reconstruction efforts is brighter than that of Ghana for example.

We therefore congratulate GCB for this forward-thinking agenda.

This is however not GBC’s first foray outside Ghana as it has presence in London added to that of Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank Group (AWB), which enables the two financial institutions to operate as correspondent banks to enhance trade and investment between Morocco and Ghana.

This is now more achievable as GCB’s minimum capital has substantially increased, placing her in a position to battle with others for the big ticket deals.

A networked bank with GH¢500 million minimum capital and 183 branches in addition to 19 agencies cannot be a small bank. It stands on the threshold of making history just as any local bank whose management is focused on becoming a major player in the financial sector must learn from the example of GCB.

Goldstreet Business will therefore plead with the directors of the bank to exploit other investment opportunities not only in Liberia and Freetown but look into the possibility of expanding to where there are many Ghanaians including Togo, Nigeria and even Burkina Faso – everywhere there is a concentration of traders dealing with Ghanaian markets.

In doing so, our bank will also increase its capacity and be recognized for its role.