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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Omanahene of Wenchi and President of Wenchi Traditional Council, Osagyefo Ampem Nana Anye Amoapong Tabrako II, has called for major changes in the rural banking industry.

Notable among the changes is included replacing the ‘Rural’ identifier with ‘Area’ to eliminate some ‘negative perception’ about the industry, 40 years after its operations.

He said the semantics of ‘rural’, a misunderstood tag, prevents some prospective customers from doing business with rural banks. He said on top of that, since most of the rural banks accept the tag, no efforts are made to psychologically change their attitude to changing trends in the banking environment.

The Wenchi Omanhene opined that to remove the perception of ‘ruralism’ from the industry, and the implications of countryside primitiveness, the ‘rural’ tag should be substituted with ‘Area’.

He commented that the introduction of rural banks came to alleviate the plight of rural dwellers while also enhancing economic activities in rural areas. Additionally, he said, they have come far given the years they have been in operation, chalking up a lot of successes along the way.

He mentioned, for instance, bringing banking services to the rural folks; being a relief to most government workers in areas where there were no commercial banks; and offering employment as well as transforming catchment areas into vibrant commercial hubs.

“It is interesting to note that today we have some rural banks which are doing very well and are part of the Ghana Club 100,” he added.

However, Osagyefo Ampem Nana Anye Amoapong Tabrako II -- who was speaking at the ‘5th Edition of the Rural Banking Week Celebration’ in Wenchi -- did not mince words in point out that the rural banks’ mode of recruitment does not help to strengthen system.

He said on many occasions recruited staffs turn out to be relations of some board and management members -- a situation that must cease, he advised.

He said where most staff are members from an area and related to top management discipline becomes problematic, which could lead to mismanagement and indiscipline.

He commented on the reluctance to employ ‘high-calibre staff’, and the low salary structure as compared to their counterparts in commercial banks.

He said: “Training and development of staff is also an area of disquiet”, and emphasised that rural banks must have systems and programmes designed to tap the talent, creativity and innovativeness that employees present.

The Wenchi Omanhene cited that, increasingly, developments have brought commercial banks to catchment areas of rural banks which hitherto were less attractive to them. He urged rural banks to give attention to unexplored areas of their catchment areas which remain unattractive to commercial banks.

He also further recommended a rise in the capital base of RCBs to appreciable levels, so as to ensure smooth and efficient operations; mobilisation of funds to train staff, as well as mobilisation of resources by the ARB to pursue market research and product development among others.

The 5th edition of the ‘Rural Banking Week Celebration’ was organised under the theme ‘Forty years of Rural banking in Ghana; achievements, challenges and prospects’, and was attended by managers and board chairmen of RCBs.