Jacobu (Ash), June 6, GNA - The ARB Apex Bank Limited will open five more branches by the end of next year to enable it deliver more services to rural banks in the country, a senior official has said. Three of the branches are to be established this year at Takoradi, Sunyani and Bolgatanga, while two more would be opened in Kumasi and Accra next year.
Mr Ken Owusu-Twumasi, Head of Human Resource and Administration of the Bank, who announced this at Jacobu in the Amansie East district during the annual general meeting of Odotobri Rural Bank, said computerisation of rural banks had begun and would be completed in two years with a Wide Area Network (WAN) connecting all the banks.
Mr Owusu-Twumasi said the Apex Bank was training all rural bank staff and directors with greater emphasis on technical training to equip them with the required skills for effective service delivery.
He said much attention was being given to the training in micro-finance methodologies to enable the rural banks to support the operations of their small-scale customers and thereby fulfil their mandate of effectively assisting the communities in which they operate and also support the government's poverty reduction programme. "This is an area the ARB Apex Bank and the Rural Banks are collaborating closely with the various government programmes to fight the poverty war", he said.
Some of the government programmes the banks were working with included the Social Investment Fund (SIF), the Women's Development Fund and the Village Infrastructure Project (VIP).
Mr Owusu-Twumasi urged the public to take advantage of the Apex Link product, a domestic funds transfer service, by saving with Rural Banks.
Mr J. Owusu-Boadi, chairman of the Board of Directors of Odotobri Rural Bank, announced that under a United Nations Development Programme facility, the bank had received a grant of 500 million cedis together with five computers, a server, five UPS and two printers.
He said through that assistance, the bank had been able to purchase additional computers to complete the process of computerising its operations at the head office and at the Jacobu agency.
Mr Owusu-Boadi said the bank's total assets increased by 60 percent from 12.2 billion cedis in 2002 to 20.1 billion cedis in 2003, whilst a profit of 1.2 billion cedis was recorded as against 794.3 million cedis in the previous year.
A dividend of 312.9 million cedis was declared for shareholders. 06 Jun. 04