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08.05.2007 Business & Finance

Merbank sweeps banking awards but Ecobank tops all

By Statesman

The high expectations of bankers, captains of industry, corporate tycoons and media personnel that Merchant Bank Ghana Limited would win the Best Bank of the Year award after Merbank swept five awards was dashed when Ecobank emerged at the top of the 2006 Ghana Banking Awards.

Ecobank has, thus, won the top-notched award for the second time running. Ecobank was also adjudged the first runner-up in the Most Socially Responsible Bank; Best Bank in IT and Electronic Banking; first runner-up in Product Innovation; and Best in Corporate Banking categories.

But Merbank bagged the Best Bank in Advisory Services, Short-term Loan Financing, Long-term Financing, Competitive Banking, and the Retail Bank of the Year. It also garnered the awards for the first runner-up in IT and Electronic Banking and the second runner-up in Customer Care.

The awards ceremony, held at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, saw several banks bagging awards in different categories.

The 6th Ghana Banking Awards evaluated the performance of 21 banks during last year. Due to their newness in the banking scene, Fidelity Bank and Intercontinental Bank were not eligible for the awards.

The annual awards are organised by Corporate Initiative Ghana, a not-for-profit efficiency enhancement organisation.

The theme of this year's ceremony is "Banking in Ghana, the Past 50 Years - Challenges and Prospects."

Dubbed the Golden Jubilee edition, the awards applied an approach and methodology to assess the winners based on three main sources.

The sources are: a customer satisfaction survey administered to retail customers only; an opinion survey administered to corporate customers; and a fact-finding survey for banks only. KPMG carried out the independent assessment of the banks. Over 1,000 respondents were involved.

Standard chartered Bank became the best bank in financial performance while The Trust Bank emerged the first runner-up in that category as well as in advisory services. Stanchart also won the Best Bank in Trade Finance, with Ghana Commercial Bank following it as fisrt runner-up. While Agricultural Development Bank won the Most Socially Responsible Bank award, Unibank became the Best Growing Bank, with Stanbic Bank taking up the first runner-up position.

Prudential Bank was the first runner-up in the Short-term Loan Financing category as CAL Bank went away with the first runner-up in Long-term Loan Financing. Barclays Bank Ghana Limited was judged the Best in Product Innovation; and Prudential Bank gained the first runner-up position in Competitive Pricing.

In the Customer Care category, Unibank was the best, while Zenith Bank followed it as the first runner-up. Unibank won the Best in Corporate Banking, with Zenith clocking the first runner-up position. Stanchart again won the Best Bank in Financial performance and TTB became the first runner-up.

In a keynote address, Charles Mensa, Chief Executive of the Volta Aluminium Company, lauded Ghanaian banks for their dedication and ingenuity in an increasingly competitive market.

"Competition is driving the banks and they have becoming competitive." Dr Mensa noted that the good policy measures implemented the government has resulted in declining of inflation and interest rates, but this posed serious challenges to policy makers and the banks.

The Executive Secretary of CIG, Afortey Odarteifio, said the awards scheme would stimulate healthy competition among local banks and bring about improved services to corporate bodies. groups and individuals. "Over the past five years, we can confidently say that the Ghana banking awards has helped complement the efforts of the authorities to push up the level of competitiveness in the banking industry."

Mr Odarteifio revealed that the success and uniqueness of the awards have informed the organisers to "intend to export this Ghanaian product to neighbouring countries and to make this an ECOWAS product."