President Paul Kagame has hailed Bank of Kigali on its 50th Anniversary celebration saying that over the years the institution has become one of the country’s most iconic and recognizable brands.
Kagame made the remarks on Friday evening during a dinner reception at the Kigali Convection Centre marking the institutions 50th anniversary.
The dinner reception brought together some of the bank’s clients, staff, directors as well as partners.
Kagame said that the story of the bank somewhat reflects the story of the country’s financial sector which has shown growth trends in the last 2 decades.
"The story of this bank, is really the story of Rwanda’s financial sector as a whole. Surviving for fifty years, is not the real achievement. It is what the Bank of Kigali has become, in that time, that we are here to celebrate," Kagame said.
He added that the growth of the bank and other private sector ventures in turn has seen the government and the country do better due to taxes received.
“The company has turned a healthy profit for shareholders last year which gave it the privilege of being Rwanda’s biggest tax payer. When the private sector is doing well, we are all doing well. Congratulations,” he said.
Earlier in the day during the annual general meeting, the bank had approved a dividend of Rwf 8,302,347,000 for 2016 which is 40 per cent of its net income for the year.
During its existence, he observed that the bank had achieved significant milestones including listing on the stock exchange, receiving international credit ratings and diversifying beyond the traditional business model.
“It was the first to receive the first international credit rating. It was also the first local bank to list its shares on the Rwanda Stock Exchange(2011). More recently, the bank has expanded into insurance with the ambition to become an integrated financial services company for its clients. It is also emerging as the leader in financial technology,” the Head of State said.
Kagame cited the role of banks in facilitating private sector development through lending at affordable rates.
The President reminded financial institutions and stakeholders that banking ought to be more than profits and numbers but about having impact in people’s lives.
“I would like to take the opportunity to remind us that banking is not just numbers, it’s about the hopes and dreams of real people, Rwandans and others. It’s about building homes for our families, saving for our children’s education, having personal financial security to face life’s challenges without undue anxiety.”
“Banks also help entrench the culture of savings and investments in society and of course this draws more capital into the financial sector. But much more importantly, the habit of saving serve to make us more future minded, optimistic and better at planning ahead.
We need much more of this mindset in Rwanda and our banks have a very big role to play,” Kagame said.
The President also pointed to the fact that the financial sector continues to face some challenges most of which the government was working with sector players to address.
“Among the major challenges in the sector include capitalization in which remains too low compared to other markets, limiting ability to finance major projects.
“The cost of credit remains quite high limiting the availability of long term financing for families and growing our companies. We need to work together, the private sector together with government to make credit products more plentiful and affordable,” Kagame said.
The bank has the country’s largest branch network with 80 branches and also reaches out to clients through agents, mobile vans and digital platforms.
Recent months have seen the bank diversify beyond retail and commercial banking to the insurance and telecom sectors.
The bank is also one of the country’s largest tax payers, in 2016, the institution paid about Rwf9 billion after a profit before tax of about Rwf30 billion.
The bank’s Chief Executive Diane Karusisi said that going forward, the bank seeks to continue being relevant in the economy by having innovative products.
Highlighting some of their short term targets, Marc Holtzman, the chairman board of directors said that they were aiming at having issued about 250,000 debit cards and 50,000 credit cards in the next 18 months.
He also revealed that they are soon to launch a mobile money product which has had significant impacts in markets like Kenya.
During the dinner reception, the bank launched a visa platinum card which is a multi-currency credit card ideal. The card allows transactions in American dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds, Rwandan francs and euros.Follow https://twitter.com/ByCollinsMwai