The Millennium Development Authority at the weekend inaugurated a fully networked operations of Dangme Rural Bank, the first to be connected to ARB Apex Data Centre, under the Ghana Rural Banks Computerisation and Inter Connectivity Project.
The project seeks to link all the 126 rural banks through the provision of Information Communications Technologies to improve financial service delivery and support to local enterprises.
The $25-million project involves the construction of a central data centre at Apex Bank, the distribution and installation of electric generators, local area network, satellite-based Wide Area Network, personal computers and accessories.
The infrastructural phase is over 95 per cent complete.
The second phase would involve the deployment of standard eMerge Banking Software Application phase, which will target all the branches of the rural banks with a total branch network in 136 with more than 534 sites.
To date, the consultants have computerised 19 rural banks with a total branch network in 135 with locations across the country.
Mr Millison Narh, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, said the expected benefits of the project include easier access to more varied and cheaper banking services, efficient customer service delivery and making the needs of customers central to the banking business.
He urged the bank’s management to ensure the security of the system and training of staff to enhance customers’ confidence.
Mr Matthew Armah, Chief Operating Officer of the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) said the decision to undertake the project was to ensure access to financial services of people in the rural communities.
This, he said, would widen the rural farmer’s access to savings, credit and cash transfer services and connects rural banks into the national payment systems.
“It is our fervent hope that greater access to financial services will improve the business environment across and help to sustain our newly acquired middle-income country status,” he said.
Mr Armah urged the Dangme Rural Bank to protect the equipment to ensure longer life span, introduced new and locally relevant banking products and honour loan obligations to sustain the future growth of the bank.
Mr Hyginus Zon, Head Internal Control, ARB Apex Bank, said the comprehensive MiDA support would facilitate the participation of rural banks in the Cheque Codeline Clearing System.
He said with the inauguration of the computerisation programme, the Dangme Rural Bank could now provide back-up support at all times to enable smooth operations on an electronic platform for all rural banks.
Mr Zon tasked the board and management to institute a risk management policy to identify, assess, monitor and control operational and credit risks.
The bank must also strengthen its internal control mechanisms to ensure that adequate and effective measures were in place to enhance standards and improve performance, he said.