The setting up of BOA-GHANA: A daring but relevant bet.

At the beginning of 2011, the BANK OF AFRICA Group will finally be able to seize an opportunity it has been waiting for a long time: to build a footprint in Ghana. At the time, the country was already considered as one of the most promising in West Africa, both in terms of its economic assets and the dynamism of its businesses and the vitality acquired by its democracy. Admittedly, the value of its currency was experiencing significant international shocks and the country’s opening up to Nigerian banks had further tightened competition in a dynamic and diversified financial sector. But the recapitalisation imposed by the Central Bank of Ghana in 2010 led some local banks to look for partners to continue their activities. Encouraged by the series of successful expansions carried out since 2006, the Group’s holding company decided to explore the possibilities of setting up a company.

Initial contacts were difficult in front of interlocutors who were often reluctant to welcome foreign shareholders and share their ambitions. After an initial setback, however, discussions with Amalgamated Bank (AMAL BANK) proved promising. The Group finds in the personalities of the managers, in their approach in the field, in the attention they pay to their bank, in the transparency of the negotiations conducted with them, many points that have marked the culture of the BANK OF AFRICA for nearly thirty years. Of course, each side defends its own interests, but conducts the negotiations constructively with the will to succeed. The Central Bank, vigilant, clarifies its requirements but also shows its openness and gives valuable advice to each party. In this English-speaking environment, which is less familiar to the Group – apprenticeships only started in 2004 in Kenya – the constraints are heavier in the face of different business practices and regulations, and in the face of seasoned competitors and well-informed customers. Despite this, things are progressing well. Progress has been facilitated by the support of former shareholders and directors, all of whom have remained at the heart of the new Bank’s system, as well as by the active cooperation of AMAL BANK’s teams, reassured by our commitment not to make any lay-offs.

Before the end of the first quarter of 2011, approval was granted and the BANK OF AFRICA-GHANA (BOA-GHANA) was able to start operations. The beginnings were not easy in an economy supported by constant dynamism but handicapped by high interest rates and an internationally unstable currency. But thanks to the energy and solidarity of involved, BOA-GHANA was able to gradually implement the fundamental characteristics of the BOA – opening branches, evolution towards a bank for all public – and to be part of the financing circuits open to banks. In 2018, BOA-GHANA successfully go through the difficult phase imposed on Ghanaian banks by tripling their minimum share capital in 18 months: it will thus be among the 23 banks restated in early 2019 while 11 will have to cease their activities. There is no doubt that overcoming this hurdle has strengthened the Bank’s ambitions and opened the door to important future developments.

Happy birthday to the BANK OF AFRICA-GHANA and its teams and many future successes to savour.

Paul Derreumaux

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