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28.10.2008 Business & Finance

80% Ghanaians still unbanked?

By The Statesman

It is believed that despite the impressive growth of financial institutions in the country, there are still a lot of people outside the financial system .

An estimated 80 percent of the eligible population is said to be either un-banked or under banked, and seems to have no access to financial services. It is estimated that out of Ghana's population of 23 million people, only 2.2 million have bank accounts. 

 A report intercepted by The Statesman reveals that about 80 percent of

Ghana"s population still keeps their savings outside the formal banking system.

It is also estimated that less than 40 percent of traders in the country's various markets have bank accounts.

A study has also showed that only 50 percent of farmers in the agric sector have bank accounts; basically, cocoa farmers have bank accounts.

In this sense, a fire outbreak in a market, a house or a farm of a peasant farmer totally affects their savings and investments and bring their future to a halt.

Recent fire outbreaks at the Agbogboloshie, Kantamanto and the Kumasi Central market were said to have destroyed millions of the country's cedi notes.

Today Ghana boasts of 25 universal banks, with nearly 600 branches nationwide, with the expansion still continuing.

These are in addition to a number of non-bank financial institutions and 123 rural banks with branches throughout the country.

With increased competition, these institutions are providing a diversified range of products and services, driven by innovation and advancements in technology.

 However, since the majority of them operate in the national, regional and district capitals, they are said to be denying the majority of rural inhabitants' access to quality banking services.

Analysts have argued that the traditional payment systems offered by the banking institutions do not address the key requirements of the un-banked population due to difficulty in opening bank accounts, paperwork, utility bills among others.

Further, the need to have basic literacy, administration and record keeping abilities and English language capability to operate a bank account have been identified as an obstacle.

The rest are said to be high cost associated with maintaining a bank account relative to customers' income levels, requirements of significant infrastructure to settle transactions which are unavailable in rural areas and the informal sector, a situation which the Ghana Association of Bankers has been called upon to address.

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