As Ghana commemorates its 65th anniversary as an independent sovereign nation, its government and people will be acknowledging the contributions of key institutions to its socio-economic development.
Arguably the most important of all have been those made by GCB Bank Plc, the first and largest indigenous bank in Ghana and it is instructive that it is easily the most popular bank among the country’s general public which is widely referred to by the generic tag of “commercial bank”.
As a bank with majority state ownership GCB has always strived for balance between its commercial and development objectives and indeed has done so with exemplary success.
It all began in 1953 as a state initiative to combine the extension of banking services to indigenous enterprises and households with central banking activities, both charters illustrating its development mandate. Following the establishment of the Bank of Ghana itself in 1957, GCB Bank was able to focus on the extension of commercial; banking services nationwide, its success in this regard is reflected in it having the widest branch network in the country.
But most impressively, since the bank rebranded and refocused on its commercial orientation following its 1996 listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange, it has made its biggest contributions to Ghana’s economic fortunes. Although the Initial Public Offering (IPO) that made the then still named Ghana Commercial Bank a publicly-traded company on the stock market has still left the state as the largest shareholder till today – the Government of Ghana holding 21.36% of its shares and the state-owned pension fund, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) holding 29.89% with private institutional and retail investors holding 48.75%. Indeed, at the time following the IPO itself, the bank had over 100,000 investors, the widest shareholder base of any company in Ghana. This has persuaded the bank to intensify its commercial orientation to provide shareholders most competitive returns on their investments in the bank’s equity through higher dividends and faster capital gains.
Having secured a universal banking license in 2008, which expanded its charter beyond commercial banking to wholesale banking and capital markets as well, the erstwhile Ghana Commercial Bank rebranded as GCB Bank in 2014 and since then has gone ‘toe-to-toe’ with foreign multinational banks in technical capacities as well as in nationwide popularity.
Over the decades, GCB Bank has been more pivotal than any other banking institution in providing financial intermediation, thus being behind the growth of many of the country’s leading indigenous enterprises and quite several foreign-owned entities that have partnered the country on a long-term basis.
GCB Bank has financed many of the State’s most crucial development projects even at great cost to its profitability; as well as being the biggest debt financier of the state treasury itself through investment in the government’s domestic debt securities. At the same time, it has set an example for the rest of corporate Ghana with regards to corporate social responsibility, providing support in the form of donations and grants to most sectors of the country’s social economy particularly education, health, culture, tourism, sports, and the environment.
But perhaps most impactful has been the deliberate focus it has placed on sectors of the economy that have the biggest potential for accelerating Ghana’s economic growth and development.
Over the years, GCB Bank has invested substantially in the oil and gas industry, cocoa, mining, manufacturing, commerce, and other vital sectors of the economy.
GCB Bank has been a key channel of international trade through dealings in letters of credit, financing medium-term loans, forward contracts, export credit guarantee lines, negotiation of cedi instruments, foreign exchange transactions, currency transfers, negotiation of non-cedi instruments amongst others.
Additionally, the Bank has funded monumental projects like the reconstruction of the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi, the construction of gas pipelines, and other ancillary projects to support the relocation of the Karpowership from Tema to Takoradi.
Over the years, GCB Bank has been the country’s major partner in driving socio-economic growth by partnering government to execute major initiatives. In 2017, GCB Bank voted GHS1 billion to support Ghana’s One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative and also established a dedicated business unit to provide advisory services to develop business proposals from prospective investors.
Just last week, the bank provided funding for the acquisition of four brand new 40-meter multi-role offshore security vessels for the Ghana Navy, which was commissioned by the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo, at the Naval Base in Sekondi, Western Region.
“The financing of these vessels is yet another example of how deep local-market knowledge and international best practice paired with our core mandate of supporting Ghana’s oil infrastructure development, enable us to forge partnerships in providing complex financing solutions which promote long term and sustainable economic development,” said the Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Kofi Adomakoh.
This once again demonstrates GCB Bank’s readiness and capacity to partner with stakeholders to transform the economy.
For instance, a few years before digital banking became the new frontier for Ghana’s banking industry, the big international banks were seen to have a lead in the application of technology. However, since then GCB Bank has greatly increased its technology base which now is as good as any other bank’s enabling it to be one of the most innovative with regards to digital banking-driven financial products and services.
The latest example of this was when a couple of years ago, GCB Bank became the first bank to launch a digital mobile money wallet, called G-Money. The digital wallet which is telco agnostic and fully interoperable allows customers to send and receive funds from any mobile money wallet or bank accounts by registered users and also perform unique functions including saving and borrowing funds, group savings among others. It is also accessible across multiple channels such as Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), GCB Bank’s internet banking platform, mobile banking application, Point of Sale Device (POS), Quick Respond Code (QR code), and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)
Instructively, GCB has consistently met the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary expectations of the wider Ghanaian society. The Bank has lived up to its mantra “Your Bank for Life” through its unrivaled CSR initiatives in the areas of Education, Health, Culture and Tradition, Tourism, Environment, and Children and Sports. Indeed, in this regard, it has set the standards for the rest of the banking industry, and indeed corporate Ghana as a whole, to follow.
For instance, the bank recently refurbished the Ussher Polyclinic and constructed a new theatre for the James Town Maternity Clinic, Renal Dialysis Unit at 37 Military Hospital, and classroom blocks for Bomaa Roman Catholic and Sewuah D/A JSS in the Ahafo and Eastern regions.
Since early 2020 the Bank has been at the forefront of the Covid-19 fight with a donation to the COVID-19 National Response Team through the Ministry of Health, donation of 100 “Veronica” buckets and their accessories to the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, and a donation of 40 water storage tanks (Rambo 1000) to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for distribution to markets in Accra, Tema and other parts of the country.
The Bank also donated 550 gallons of hand sanitizers, 50 “Veronica” buckets, 50 receptacles, 100 gallons of liquid soap, and 300 rolls of tissue for distribution to regional offices and courts under the judiciary, the provision of nutritious meals, water and drink on daily basis for 500 health workers for almost two months, amongst others.
GCB also purchased 1000s of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for distribution to some health facilities, especially in deprived areas. These include the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Dambai, Atua, St Dominic, Ketu, Awutu Senya East, GaCentraland others.
The Bank has also, in recent years, been a key sponsor of programs like the National Science and Maths Quiz, Ghana’s Fastest Human, Millennium Marathon, Heritage Caravan, Music of Ghanaian Origin, The Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) amongst others.
GCB Bank PLC continues to show its strong commitment to empowering the youth and SMEs, especially after the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For instance, the Bank has disbursed GHC100,000 as support to RESILIENT GHANA to provide a platform that challenges and empowers the youth to identify, create and present innovative solutions to real-life problems in Ghana while creating lasting businesses.
The not-for-profit organization seeks to build the entrepreneurial capacity of the youth currently through its Mentorship Programme, which runs monthly webinars and business masterclasses and is open to all without a cost.
As Ghana marks 65 years of nationhood, GCB Bank Plc in the face of the myriad of political, social, and economic challenges which besieged the nation, stands tall and continues to dominate every sphere of the Banking landscape, truly living up to its mantra,’ YOUR BANK FOR LIFE.’