The Ghanaian economy got a major boost yesterday, with the inauguration of Energy Bank Ghana Limited.
President John Atta Mills, who unveiled the bank, urged bank operators to slash cost of lending to enable Small and Medium Enterprises
(SMEs) and the agric sector to have access to cheap funds to stimulate economic growth.
Atta Mills said this is necessary as inflation rate is going downward and government continues to provide the needed infrastructure to support businesses.
Energy Bank Ghana Limited, a subsidiary of Global Fleet Group, is owned by billionaire businessman, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim.
With a capital base of GHc 60 million, Ibrahim said Energy Bank would assist government in funding projects in real estate, service industries, oil and gas and infrastructure.
"Our concern will be to develop indigenous entrepreneurs that will help assist the government in sustaining those laudable projects," Ibrahim promised.
He said Energy Bank Limited will be a diversified entity, but will lead the way by displaying unparalleled competence and skills that will make it the bank of first choice in the merging oil and gas business in Ghana.
Its strategic plan is to bank the middle and top end customers in oil and gas, telecommunications, aviation, conglomerates, food and beverages, construction and real estate, hospitality and tourism markets as well as high end retail market.
Ibrahim said he decided to set up the bank after Mills requested for foreign investors’ participation in Ghana’s economy, adding that so far, Ghanaians constitute more than 80 per cent of employees of Energy Bank’s pioneer staff.
He said the Ghanaian economy is projected to grow at 23.7 per cent in 2013 , making it the fastest growing in the world, urging that government should focus more on foreign direct investment in the country because of the notable benefits.
He said the government cannot develop the economy alone without foreign investors participation and that part of the commitment to the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) treaties was to foster free flow of trade among member countires.
Governor, Bank of Ghana, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, said Energy Bank was given Class One Banking Licence which empowers it to operate as a universal bank in the country. He said the bank will add to the infrastructure of the Ghanaian banking industry, even as its coming demonstrates growing trusts in the economy. He said with the discovery of oil makes it imperative for the bank to explore opportunities in the energy and petroleum sectors of the economy.
Amissah-Arthur advised Energy Bank management to employ good risk management processes to ensure that its loans do not go bad because "capital provided can easily fizzle out if not properly managed".
He said Information Technology is key in meeting customers’ needs in today’s banking environment and, therefore, advised the bank to equip its IT adequately for it to compete effectively. "IT is needed to keep customers happy, manage pricing and risks. Energy Bank must modernise its IT if it must compete in the Ghanaian market," he said.
He said it is making plans to design and implement a sustainable risk management framework and also advised banks to always engage the services of credit reference companies bad loans.
"I want to promise that government will continue to improve and sustain the business environment to bring about appreciable development in the economy. To Energy Bank, I say welcome," he said Energy Bank was incorporated in September 2009 as a privately owned financial institution and has been licenced to operate as a universal bank. The bank will also provide financial services covering commercial and consumer banking, corporate and institutional banking, Treasury management, cash management among other services. Ibrahim said discussions are on top gear to acquire an existing Bank in both Sao-Tome and United States.