Build synergies to advance digital innovations - Dr Bawumia urges banks

BY: Chris Nunoo
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia addressing the conference
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia addressing the conference

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged banks to explore synergies and partnerships to advance digital technological innovations.

That, he explained, would redefine the banking sector to ultimately spur economic growth.

Speaking at the opening of the 25th National Banking Conference in Accra yesterday, the Vice-President encouraged the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), Ghana to lead the charge in capacity-building for an innovation-driven banking industry.

The conference was on the theme: “The digital economy of Ghana: The strategic role of the banking industry”.

Dr Bawumia reaffirmed the efforts of the government in spearheading the national digitalisation drive through robust policy-making initiatives and a conducive environment.

Digital agenda

Giving a background of the country’s digital agenda, the Vice-President said the transformative digital agenda started in 2018 when the government launched the agenda in a bid to digitalise all sectors of the economy.

“We have made significant improvement with the major deliverable of a soft interconnected digital infrastructure that will improve delivery of public services, domestic revenue mobilisation and financial inclusion.

This task would have been difficult to achieve without the support of the banking industry,” he said.

He said the introduction of the Ghana Card, the Ghana Post digital address system, the Ghana.Gov and the mobile money interoperability were a few of the significant milestones in Ghana’s journey to digitalisation.

More than ever, he said, it had become increasingly urgent to bridge the digital divide as the country looked to build a more resilient economy.

He said the government was committed to championing that cause and remained at the forefront of implementing those initiatives.

Banking industry

Throwing more light on the banking sector and the introduction of technologies in the system, Vice-President Bawumia said the evolution of Ghana’s banking industry had been phenomenal, with the journey to digitalise the financial sector beginning more than two decades ago.

As digital banking grew in popularity, he said, banks continued to invest in technology and infrastructure to augment their efforts at improving service delivery, adding that one of the important lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic was that digitalisation was the future.

He said fostering a digital economy was not just a priority for the government but a shared responsibility for all stakeholders.

e-Cedi

With the introduction of the e-cedi in the offing, he asked commercial banks to be proactive in developing digital assets and products for different categories of customers.

The Vice-President further advised banks to leverage the digitalisation agenda of the government to improve credit to the private sector.

“As banks continue to invest in digital platforms to facilitate and ease in trade and transactions, adopting a more Fintech approach will spur innovation for the benefit of clients,” he added.

AcFTA opportunities

He further called on banks to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as it looked to accelerate digitalisation on all fronts.

Given the global supply chain constraints and other challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic had come along with, Dr Bawumia said, there was a heightened need for regional integration, while taking full advantage of the AfCFTA to revitalise intra-Africa trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market.

He, therefore, urged countries under the free trade agreement in Africa to embrace all the opportunities brought by digitalisation.

Creating convenience

The President of the CIB, Rev. Patricia Sappor, in a welcoming address, said the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its resultant digital tools across industries had propelled many industry players to either digitise or digitalise their operations in order to create convenience and value for their clients and shareholders.

She said the new ways of conducting business which was sweeping through many industries, including the banks, had made it imperative for industry and the government to collaborate to drive the digital agenda for the benefit for all.

In a speech read on her behalf, the President of the Ghana Association of Banks, Mrs Mansa Nettey, challenged bankers to grab the opportunities and advantages that came with digital economies.