Amid high inflation and a fast-depreciating local currency which have caused turmoil in the economy this year, Second Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Mrs. Elsie Addo Awadzi has assured that the situation is temporary, as her outfit together with the finance ministry are working hard to keep it under control with the proposed programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Data from Ghana Statistical Services (GSS) show that inflation for September hit 37.2 percent, the highest recorded in more than 21 years (since June 2021); and the cedi is currently trading around GH¢12 to US$1 – indicating a 50 percent depreciation since beginning of the year.
Scary as these figures are, though, the Second Deputy-Governor says she is confident about the economy’s outlook, given the plans both BoG and the Ministry of Finance have tabled before the IMF for a programme to transform the economy – adding that all must avoid speculative behaviour which tends to aggravate the situation.
“Recent global developments have heightened economic and business uncertainties for businesses and individuals. Our domestic economy is not spared from these developments. The Bank of Ghana is working closely with the Ministry of Finance and other key stakeholders to negotiate a sound economic reform programme supported by the IMF, to stabilise and transform our economy.
“We at the Bank of Ghana are confident about the outlook for our economy. The current high inflation and cedi depreciation are temporary, and we must avoid speculative behaviour that only works against attaining stability sooner,” she said at the 21st annual RCB CEOs Conference held in the Volta Region.
RCBs must brace up for digitalisation
Speaking on the theme ‘Positioning Rural Banking at the Centre of Financial Services Delivery in Ghana – The Role of Stakeholders’, Mrs. Awadzi urged the Rural and Community Banking (RCB) sector to embrace digitalisation, as that is the direction the financial sector is going; hence, failure to follow suit will lead to disastrous consequences for industry players.
“It is also important to situate the RCB sector’s strengths within the rapid changes taking place in the financial services industry all around the world and here in Ghana. For a start, technology is fast disrupting traditional business models for delivering finance all around the world, and is redefining financial services as we knew them.
“Digital financial services are now the future, and are creating opportunities to reach existing customers and the previously unbanked in cost-effective ways. This also means that universal banks are now able to reach communities and people with their services much easier and cheaper than they previously could, thereby competing with the RCB sector on your own turf.
“At this rate, any financial institution that has not already adopted and implemented a digital transformation strategy is already behind the curve. The RCB sector therefore cannot afford to wait much longer before it begins to leverage emerging technologies to modernise their business models to meet the fast-changing needs of their customers and remain relevant to the segment of the economy that was traditionally served by the sector,” she said.
She further cautioned them on the heightened concerns about cybersecurity – one of the disadvantages of going digital; saying RCBs must invest in good infrastructure to take care of this associated risk.
“Digitalisation comes with its own complexities and risks – including cyber security risks, third and fourth party/outsourcing risk, data privacy breaches, technology failure risk, increased AML/CFT risks, and consumer protection risk among others. Needless to say, a lot is required by way of strong governance and risk management systems to help mitigate these risks as financial institutions seek to exploit the benefits of digitalisation.
“RCBs will therefore need to augment their capital base as needed in order to deploy more sophisticated systems and structures in line with the Bank of Ghana’s 2018 Cyber and Information Security Directive. The Directive provides for the adoption of minimum technical, governance, data protection protocols; and transaction monitoring and fraud detection and mitigation tools to help mitigate key risks from digitisation,” Mrs. Awadzi said.