What is your point of view about Africa being seen as the new investment destination, and how do you see The Gambia within this context?
Africa’s strong growth rates, rising middle class and increasing stability has put it on the right pedestal and made it a competitive continent of modern times for quick investment returns and indeed an investment destination for investors with the right business rationale.
As well, being endowed with all the natural resources that the advanced and emerging market economies require for industrial growth be it gold, diamond, silver, bauxite, iron, oil etc Africa cannot be left out as an important strategic partner in industrial development.
The fact that Africa also enjoys a relatively stable banking system history that is not at the height of complicated high risk banking system of the advanced economies that led to the 2008 global meltdown encourages investor with lesser risk appetite to see Africa as a relatively safer continent for investment. Africa was mostly hit by the second round effects of capital flight, reduced raw material demands and other ripple effects.
The New Development bank formed by Brazil, Russia, India ,China and South Africa (BRICS) to which South Africa is a member and the Africa Regional office, targets infrastructural development which is most required in Africa. The terms of negotiations are expected to be much more favorable than that of the Bretton Woods Organizations – World Bank and the IMF. This places Africa to a new era of growth and employment opportunities backed by its significant youthful populations.
On the Home front, The Gambia being the closest English speaking country to Europe, peace loving nation with a rich and diverse culture is a safe and easy place to operate a business. The open door policy, cheap labour costs, respect for human rights and rule of law, unrivaled access to a large and growing West African market and vast arable agricultural land provide an ideal investment climate.
The Program for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) which is the National plan 2012-2015 with the sole objectives of improving employment levels, per capita income, human development, gender equity and country competitiveness has unquestionably placed the country on a better railing.
The recent draft national policy on Public, Private Partnership (PPP), under the watchful eyes of the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) will create the enabling environment to facilitate private sector participation in the upgrading, developing and expanding of not only infrastructure but also services in The Gambia.
In the Financial services sector the development of capital markets and expansion of financial intermediaries to broaden and ease access to credit by investors in the productive sectors of the economy will enhance the production capacity of such enterprises and with the multiplier effects on the growth of the economy. Financial Inclusion for those at the base of the pyramid is critical and private sector investment in this area is encouraged and most welcome.
On other services, investment opportunities are available in areas such as health, ICT air and sea transport linking the Gambia and the sub region to facilitate supply source of raw material inputs for industries as well as enhanced trade. Similarly investment in river transport will facilitate movement of goods and people to urban centers within the country. This is to mention just some of the investment opportunities.
The Gambia’s Vision 2020 and 2024 development plans seek among other things to transform The Gambia into an economic superpower, How do you think the banking sector and Trust bank in particular can contribute to the achievement of these plans.
The role of the Banking sector is mainly financial intermediation. The banking sector in the Gambia is no exception to this and will continue its pivotal intermediary role of mobilizing household savings and funds in surplus areas and subsequently allocating those funds and scarce resources efficiently to the deficit areas. We will not relent on our role to diversify risk, and enhance the flow of liquidity. We will leverage on our scale as a sector to reduce information asymmetry and transaction costs whilst providing an alternative to raising funds through individual savings and retained earnings. We will work tirelessly to attract foreign, private and institutional investors to enhance growth and competitiveness.
We will continue to collaborate with Government in establishing a strong and efficient financial services system that will provide a continuous flow of affordable credit to the private sector in order to achieve a private sector led economy in line with vision 2020 the national blueprint.
In a small country like The Gambia, we see a fierce competition in the banking sector as there are 14 commercial banks in the market. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having such a competitive industry?
The proliferation of banks in the Gambia in 2007 brought about competition and gave the customers options to choose a wide range of banking products and services. This has surely improved customers services as older banks were forced to abandon the traditional arm-chair banking to a more customer focused, customer centric improved banking services to meet the customer approach.
This fierce competition came with challenges. Customer started switching banks and new banks were prepared to buy old toxic debt from the existing older banks. Banks were forced to lend out under loose credit control and without water tight collaterals to cope with the competition which lead to high Non performing loans and delinquent facilities.
Staff attrition became high since poaching for the few scarce professionally trained bankers was easy and retention became a challenge and nightmare since the industry has rapidly grown out of human resource capacity, Personnel expenses consequently went up with costs of overheads due to rigorous marketing and consequently hitting the bottom line of banks.
The Central bank was quick to respond with the enactment of the Banking Act 2009 to address some of the weakness in its predecessor Financial Institutions Act (FIA). This addressed the flaws and improved corporate governance in the banking sector, which ultimately reduce systemic risk..
Overall the Banking industry remains sound and satisfactorily capitalized to absorb shocks. The risk-weighted capital adequacy ratio remains well above the statutory requirements. The CBG’s financial sector policy continues to focus on enhancing the regulatory and supervisory framework of the banking system, with the aim of reducing the cost of financial intermediation.
To address the problem of delinquent credit facilities and improve the credit environment, a more robust credit reference application system was installed and the system became operational in mid 2013. Moreover, a Bill for an Act to make provision for the creation of security interests over movable assets, the establishment of a Security Interests on Moveable Assets (Collateral) Registry is expected to be considered by the National Assembly. The new electronic data submission and off-site supervision system (V-RegCoSS) is almost completed to improve data quality and integrity from the Banking Industry and finally all banks prepared IFRS compliant accounts as at 31st December 2013, to improve comparability with other banks in other parts of the world.
What is Trust Bank’s strategic position within the market in The Gambia?
Trust bank being the largest bank in the Gambia not only in terms of balance sheet size but also profits and profitability year in year out with 18% of the Total Assets of the industry, 20% of the Industry Loan Book and 26% of the Deposits as at 30th June 2014 cannot be better placed to take advantage of the scale to meet the ever challenging customer demand of the market and maximize shareholder value.
We have the largest customers bases in the Gambian market and keep the lion’s share of civil servants and institutional (large local corporate) current accounts. We have collaborated with government and its agencies in financing projects of national interest and have truly been a Gambian Bank by all scores
In a country where competition is very high and tensed in the financial industry customers are able to exercise choice amongst many providers and for this reason we are with the belief that shareholder value creation should be closely linked to customer value creation. In this way it is only by meeting our customers’ needs that we will win the right to a bigger share of their business. This is why over the last few years we have introduced various measures to address significant external challenges of competition between 12 commercial banks by expanding our branch network and these have certainly improved the outlook of our bank as evidenced by the results achieved. Our involvement and commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) helps promote trust in the Trust Bank brand and has been instrumental in reinforcing customer loyalty and advocacy. Trust Bank is rooted in local communities throughout the Gambia where we operate and we take our responsibilities to those communities very seriously. By investing in these communities we not only create economic value but also make a positive social contribution in the lives of people. As part of our financial contribution we recognize that it is our long term interest to help improve the social and commercial fabric of local communities where we operate. We have the largest CSR budget in the industry and thereby concentrate on the following four pillar of in our CSR: Health Care Delivery, Education, Sports and Disaster Relief Management.
Can you share with us some information regarding the Bank's structure, business operations and some key figures, in order for our readers to get a better vision of the size of TBL
Trust bank currently has the widest branch network and presence all over the country with 17 outlets. Our wide range of world class products and services covers almost all customer needs.
Since incorporation on 1st October 1997, the bank has maintained a consistent growth in size and profits. Total Assets have increased to D4.6Billion (D212M in Dec1998). Deposits growth has also consistently increased from D175M in December 1998 to over D4Billion as at 31st December 2013. Loans have increased from D75M (Dec 1998) to over D1Billion as at 31st December 2013. Returns and assets and equity have been consistently maintained at the CBG’s highest Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) rating of 1. Non-performing loan ratio has also significantly reduced to a low single digit in recent years (1% as at 31st December 2013).
It may interest you to also know that Trust banks limited this October will pay its 31st Dividend totaling over a Billion dalasi to shareholders of the Bank in less than 2 decades. We have also paid well over half a Billion Dalasis (D664M) in corporate taxes alone to Gambia Revenue Authority since incorporation in 1997.
Through our corporate social responsibility, we have given back to society mainly in the areas of health, sports and education
As part of our commitment to the provision of quality service delivery to our customers and the entire community we serve, Trust Bank contributes in no small measure to the following:
The Sanatorium is a health facility that was built by our colonial masters outside the city of Banjul for people suffering from (TB) with the view that they would easily transmit the disease to others if they live within the city. It was neglected and in a very bad state to the point that nobody wants to even go near this hospital. For this reason people even had the belief that anyone suffering from TB and is sent to the Sanatorium would die because they would not have the attention they require as patients.
As a Gambian Bank and a bank that loves and cares for the welfare of its people we intervened by refurbishing the entire hospital, constructed a new dining hall, laundry room, fixed the ground floor, built a mortuary, a mosque and perimeter fence at a tune of D15Million. In complementing its ongoing commitment to raise the standard of the hospital the bank also constructed a road linking Banjul – Serrekunda highway to the Sanatorium making it much easier for ambulances and other vehicles to access the hospital at a cost of D2.7Million
Leman Street Clinic
Trust Bank continues to extend its gesture to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and in doing so refurbished the clinic, painted the entire complex at a tune of D2Milliom
Other beneficiaries of our benevolence to the health sector include the adaption of the Maternity Ward at the AFPRC hospital in Farafenni, a hospital that serves as the main referral hospital in the North Bank, Central River and Upper River Regions as well as the neighboring villages and towns in Senegal. Similar gestures were received by Gunjur health centre, Brikama health centre and Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital which is the main referral hospital in the Gambia.
In the area of youth and sports, the bank continued to make donations to Senior Secondary school sports with the aim of developing sports from the grass root level, sponsor the Under 17 national football team, private and public sector football tournaments as well as to the National Youth Service Scheme.
In recognition of the outstanding commitment and performance of students, the bank award prizes to deserving students from secondary schools as part of the Excellence in the Millennium Award Scheme.
We also proudly sponsor prizes of students who perform extremely well in three different disciplines names: Physics, Chemistry and Development Studies at senior Secondary levels.
Trust Bank is also associated with the convocation committee of the University of The Gambia as give scholarships that should be given to deserving students.
The bank has also donated significantly towards the construction of a Science laboratory for senior secondary schools in the Gambia a project taken up by the Rotary Club of Banjul.
Disaster Relief Management
In complement government effort every year the bank donates to the National Disaster Management Committee over D200,000.00 which goes towards the management and support of people who are involved in this natural calamity .
The bank’s corporate social responsibility objective is to empower the nation through building a strong, healthier and educated populace. Trust bank spent far more that any of its competitors towards the socio-economic development of the Gambia that it continues tp touch every Gambian either directly or indirectly.
Trust Bank has since inception been awarded numerous prestigious awards from the Government of the Gambia, local and international intuitions the least of which are:
We have recently rolled out our latest version and state of the earth Core Banking Application Flexcube 12.2 that will support more value added services. The new software will improve Customer Relationship Management and improve turnaround time.
What your projections are set to be realized over the next 5 years.
The Board, Management and staff of Trust bank are well placed to continue to deliver sustainable earnings growth, Balance Sheet strength and above all efficiency for the bank and its shareholders and valued customers.
The bank has been involved in some acquisitions of subsidiaries and other equity investments for inorganic growth to surpass staff, customer and shareholder expectations with such commitment under the leadership of the Central Bank in seeking alignment with international best practices, the sky is the limit in not only delivering superior services but also revolutionizing the banking system to a different platform with world class standard products and services.
We will not relent in our pursuit to remain the number one bank in the Gambia.
Mr. Pa Macoumba Njie’s Personal achievements gained throughout his career path and its implementation on the current position.
Mr. Pa Macoumba Njie – Managing Director
Mr. Pa Macoumba M. Njie joined the erstwhile Gambia Commercial and Development Bank (GCDB) straight out of High School and worked there up until the time he left for the United States to further his studies. While in the United States, he worked in the Consumer Loan Department of the First American Bank and in 1982, he returned home to rejoin GCDB where he worked his way up the ranks from a Credit officer to Commercial Manager.
Between 1992 and 1997 he worked his way up from Operations Manager at Meriden BIAO Bank to Executive Director and then played a leading role in the privatization of Trust Bank Limited. Mr. Njie was appointed Acting Managing Director of Trust Bank Ltd. in 1997 and then confirmed as Managing Director in 2000, a position he still holds. He has been at the helm of the bank known to be most profitable bank in the history of the Gambian Banking Industry, since its creation and incorporation in October 1997.
He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Howard University in the USA and an M.A in Business Economics from Essex University in the UK. Mr. Njie also has rich and diverse training in a variety of Banking and related courses across the world. He has served as a Board Member of Meridien Bank Sierra Leone, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Home Finance Company (The Gambia) Ltd. He currently also serves as the Chairman and President of the Gambia Banker’s Association and is a Director on the Board of International Bank of Liberia. Mr. Njie received the Gambia Chamber of Commerce Banker of the year Award in 2001 and in 2002 was appointed a Notary Public in 2006.
Mr. Njie is indeed a selfless, dedicated leader with a commitment to excellence and the highest ethical standards. It is no surprise therefore that he was appointed to the National Order of the Republic of the Gambia (ORG) by his Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia. He is also selected as one of the exclusive number of bankers short listed for the African Banker of the year award and also been conferred an Honorary Doctorate in banking and Finance by the Irish University Business School in 2013.