Rwanda’s largest commercial lender, Bank of Kigali celebrated 50 years since its incorporation at a colorful event that was graced by President Paul Kagame, Friday night, at the Convention centre; the milestone is a major vote of confidence in the stability of the country’s economy.
A jovial President Paul Kagame was flanked on his table by BK CEO Dr. Diane Karusisi and Board Chairman Marc Holtzman; seated among other guests, not far away, was Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa, who from a distance, looked every inch, a satisfied man.
The President was engaged in what appeared to be a deep conversation with his hosts, Mr. Holtzman and Dr. Karusisi, who could be seen from time to time, explaining what appeared to be questions, most likely about the Bank in which government owns a controlling stake.
Apparently, the President maintains an account in Bank of Kigali on which his salary as a government official has been posted every month, since he took office.
Earlier in the day, the Bank’s Annual General Meeting held at Marriot Hotel approved a dividend payout to shareholders of 40 percent of Bank of Kigali’s 2016 net profit.
But in spite of Bank of Kigali’s solid performance year-in-year-out, its share price on the stock market has remained relatively immobile in recent months; the current market forces have seen the share price drop from yesteryears, for no apparent factor related to the bank’s performance.
That development can generally be blamed on thousands of Bank of Kigali’s retail shareholders whose willingness to liquidate their stock-value at any price in order to meet their prevalent financial needs, has gradually helped devalue the share price.
As Chairman of the Bank’s board, Holtzman’s confidence in the business is firm and he has been urging serious investors to use the current relatively lower share price as an opportunity to acquire more stock in the bank before the price movement turns north again.
He led by example when he recently invested close to US$100, 000 of his four children’s savings into BK shares, a move that helped bolster market confidence.
As investors, I think they can be assured of one thing; the stability of Rwanda’s banking sector.
Being Rwanda’s largest commercial lender with 34 percent market share as of March 31, 2017, Bank of Kigali’s 50-yr milestone should be seen as an industry milestone and an indication of a stable economy especially at a time when its peers in the region and beyond are struggling.
With depositors assured of the stability of Rwandan banks, efforts should now be directed at encouraging more Rwandans to put their money in bank savings accounts and not touch it for a long time, something that will promote a savings culture.
Perhaps as an assignment handed out in public, President Kagame remarked that banking is not just about true aspirations of real people, Rwandans in this case and he demanded that as Bank of Kigali sets out on a journey to a century, it must strive at churning out products that will transform the lives of its customers, helping them achieve financial security.
In her remarks, Dr. Karusisi made a vow to Rwandans, to consolidate the Bank’s impressive track record by doing more to serve the needs of customers through tireless innovation and great customer service. This should excite customers and shareholders in equal measures.
Kenneth Agutamba works with Bank of Kigali, but the views expressed in this article are his and not those of the Bank.