The key highlight of Absa Bank’s soil-turning event was three mounds of soil. These mounds had been placed concertedly in the middle of the vast compound that is to house Absa Bank’s new Head office in Ghana. They had been carefully curated for Mrs. Elsie Addo Awadzi, Second Deputy Governor of the Central Bank; Absa Board Chair, Mrs. Frances Adu Mante and Managing Director, Mrs. Abena Osei-Poku.
The event was well-coordinated, and the limited guests gathered that day looked on in anticipation as the three leading figures led the way, reflector jackets on and shovels in hand. When they finally dug into the soil with their shovels, the energy they exuded reverberated across the compound.
Finally, after 104-years of operating its head office on the Accra High Street, Absa was now preparing to relocate. “It is long overdue,” said the central bank Governor, Dr. Ernest Addison, when asked his views ahead of the soil-turning event. The real estate that will be occupied by the bank is in the capital city’s vibrant financial hub, along Independence Avenue close to the Ako-Adjei interchange.
Managing Director, Abena Osei-Poku, was forthright in her remarks about the underlining reasoning behind the decision.
“The time is right for us to chart a new direction in our relationship with Ghana, which will hopefully last beyond another hundred years. The dynamism of the global workplace makes it difficult for our old head office on High Street to rhyme with the evolving digital ecosystem. Our new building will be designed with the latest trends of the digital workplace and innovation for the benefit of our employees, customers and stakeholders,” she said.
Second Deputy Governor, Mrs. Elsie Addo-Awadzi – who took the stage in place of the Governor during the event, was effusive in her praise for Absa Bank. “Absa remains a very important player in the banking sector. It has demonstrated leadership over the years, and was even the first to meet the minimum capital requirement set by the central bank in 2018. I am glad they have committed to take issues of environmental sustainability, reduction in carbon footprints and compliance with the sustainable banking principles into consideration when the construction begins,” she remarked.
The Absa brand has made tremendous strides since its official launch in Ghana some 19-months ago. Having taken over a bank that was still adorned with the strength of the Barclays image, it is interesting to witness the sterling work done to entrench the new brand while upholding its positive reputational currency.
Ghana is currently littered with a host of organically established Head offices belonging to several multinational companies across multiple sectors. A new head office can mean many things: For one, it tells government that the company, in question is thinking strategically about the country where it operates. It gives regulators greater confidence to engage and supervise the company. It enhances the eagerness customers have in dealing with the brand. Additionally, it also reassures employees that the company has them in its long-term plans.
“Our model for this new building revolves around four key themes – our people, customers, resilience and sustainability. No matter how you dice it, we have covered every aspect in making this new building a reflection of the future of banking. Energy conservation, reduction in waste, digital innovation and creativity are integral in this construction as we aim toward completion in the next 18 months. The timing is right because we have the ability to finance without any repercussions on our business or shareholders’ expectations,” said Michael Mensah-Baah, Chief Operating Officer at Absa Bank.
Banking is a lifestyle. Its ability to empower small and medium-scale businesses, contribute to socio-economic development while improving the lives of individuals, communities and society cannot be overstated. Absa Bank’s cutting-edge approach across its key businesses continues to reflect leadership and capability, and the new head office is only a demonstration that this bank is not resting on its laurels.