By Hassan G. Koroma from Makeni
In line with their expansionist drive in the country and around the world, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) last Friday (27th June) opened their latest branch in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone and called on residents of the township to bank with them and experience change.
The UBA ranks among the leading financial institutions in the country with operating outlets in 19 African countries, plus in New York, London and Paris.
Making a statement at the opening ceremony, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of UBA-Sierra Leone, Ndubuisi Ejiofor said the bank started operation in the country in July 2008 from their headquarters on Charlotte Street, and has since added six more branches, including the newest one in Makeni.
He said the bank is a full-fledged Sierra Leone commercial bank that renders good financial services to customers in their operating areas, adding that the new branch in Makeni is a significant addition to their network of branches in the country, not least for the fact that the township is replete with business opportunities. He added that the bank was inundated by requests from their customers to open a branch in that part of the country.
He said the UBA is a distinctive industry brand that offers full range of financial services to their clients, including commercial banking, consumer banking, institutional banking, corporate finance banking and many more, and that the bank maintains a broad client base of over 28,000, comprising government parastatals, agencies and enterprises.
He disclosed that the pioneering bank has achieved major advancement in e-banking network expansion and quality service delivery, evident by the fact that it operates 11 active Visa enabled ATMs and a 24-hour online service. He said customers with Visa cards can have access to their money at anytime as the bank has developed point of sales in major places, including hotels, clubs, supermarkets and other areas in the country.
MD Ejiofor revealed that the bank has in its employ over eighty-five (85) Sierra Leoneans, and promised that more locals would be employed as the bank continues expanding in the country.
Also speaking at the event, a representative of the Governor of the Central Bank of Sierra Leone, Mr. Dainkeh, said the opening of the bank’s new branch in Makeni was a clear manifestation of efforts towards financial inclusion, adding that after rigorous due diligence test of the financial position of the UBA, the Central Bank ratified the opening of the new branch.
He said Sierra Leone’s economy is predominantly cash-based with a significant proportion of economic activities occurring in the informal sector and only about 16% of the population operating active accounts or undertake financial transaction via the banking system.
Mr. Dainkeh disclosed that by the end of December 2013 the total number of account holders in the country was 700,746, with UBA accounting for 3.9%, representing 27,125 accounts.
He enthused that the opening of the branch would provide an opportunity for the economically vibrant Makeni residents and others in the environs to benefit from banking services and the promotion of existing businesses through loans facility, to provide a conducive environment for investment activities in that part of the country.
While delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Minister State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Allie Tapsiru Kamara said the opening of the branch in Makeni was a major stride in the development of financial systems in that part of the country.
He said the development was in line with the Financial Sector Development Plan currently being implemented by the government and spearheaded by the Bank of Sierra Leone.
He said the plan envisages that should the country attain a status of middle income country by 2035 as enunciated in the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, it was imperative that institutions, the infrastructure and human capacities are built.
As the bank opens its doors to customers in the northern provincial headquarters, it is expected that they will bring a unique brand of banking excellence to potential clients.