Access: Africa’s Bank of Best practices opens in Sierra Leone
Businessmen, bankers, corporate-executives and directors in silky executive suits flocked the magnificently decorated canopy to witness the epoch-making opening of the multi-million dollar ‘Access Bank.’
In his opening address at the state-of-the-art glass structure, the chairman of the occasion, Mr Babatunde Cole said that “Nigeria is the home of Access bank and recently with a capital of $1.431bn it has been rated as the third most capitalized bank in Nigeria and the 359th in the world.”
“Access Bank is rated amongst the 10 top banks in Nigeria currently occupying the 7th position,” he disclosed.
The chairman explained that “from a relatively unknown position about five years ago, Access Bank has been able to deliver very competitive and quality services not only in Nigeria but across the African continent, so they are not only in Sierra Leone but in other African countries as well,” he said.
The chairman explained that Access bank which is fondly referred to as ‘Africa’s bank of best practices’ because of its pacesetter role over the years have demonstrated it once again by housing their corporate head office in the first all glass building in Sierra Leone.
Mr Cole averred that taking cognizance of the concerns of Sierra Leoneans these days, that there is a proliferation of banks in the country especially Nigerian Banks, “let us look at it from another perspective; banking is synonymous with wealth and therefore prosperity. The venturing of these new banks into Sierra Leone, which are being managed by highly qualified and experienced directors who are capable of taking sound financial decisions for their various institutions, is a clear indication of untapped opportunities,” he said.
“One thing I can say is that the banking landscape in Sierra Leone has changed considerably since the entrance of these new banks. It has now moved from the armchair banking that was very typical of our banks to banking at the door step of the customers,” Mr Cole stated.
In his statement the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Mike Carol named members of the Board of Directors noting that “we have not seen anything yet this is just the beginning.”
Bank Governor Samura Kamara in his statement explained that “there are positive gains to obtain by the entering of new banks.” He pleaded with the old banks to work concertedly with the new ones to make sure that the banking system provides maximum benefits to the country.
Access Bank group Managing Director, Aigboje AIG Imoukhuede underscored in his statement that it is believed globally that Africa is the next economic hub. “This belief has resulted in strategic redirection for African corporations. In line with this, the Access bank group has set a five-year performance target; this will reflect a wider geographical focus beyond Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Imoukhuede pointed out, “our international exposure has given us a vantage position to witness how some African companies including Nigerian businesses are also maneuvering themselves into positions of global relevance.
The Access group MD predicted “that a time will come in Nigeria when there will be limited economic value created for shareholders by companies who may have achieved industry prominence in today’s terms but restrict their operations to the confines of our domestic market. Future economic value will be driven by regional power house, in telecommunications, manufacturing and of course banking, “he explained.
Commissioning the bank on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, Finance Minister – David Carew said that Access Bank has joined other banks in Sierra Leone to introduce new banking products in the country.
He stressed the need for banks to target the informal sector saying “the informal sector is very significant”.
Mr Carew noted that the size of the Bank’s capital will determine what they can give out to customers adding “We are a country of needs and these needs are in line with our growth agenda”.
Access bank has increased its branch network in Sierra Leone to two, thereby positioning itself firmly for the facilitation of trade and socio-economic development in the ECOWAS region.
This positive development is attributable to the bank’s impressive disposition to customer service and introduction of solution- based financial products, which have positively transformed the lives of its customers and consumers of financial products in the country.
The bank is out to redefine banking operations in Sierra Leone through development of strategically developed and intelligently implemented retail banking strategy.
The bank first opened its doors of world-class banking services to the banking public in Sierra Leone in November 2007. By Ophaniel Gooding