Financial institutions are rapidly springing up in the Northern Regional capital Tamale.
For a small city like Tamale which lacks manufacturing industries and multinational companies, there are about 18 licensed banks operating within the enclave of the business capital city.
These include Ghana Commercial Bank, Agric Development Bank, National Investment, Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Apex Bank, GT Bank, UniBank, Access Bank, Prudential Bank, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic Bank, Sahel Sahara Bank and UT Bank.
Energy Bank is the latest and it is almost six months old.
The rapid growth in the banking sector in the Northern Region which is considered as virgin land could be attributed to government’s long term programmes for the area including the construction of the Eastern Corridor Road, upgrading the Tamale Airport to international status and plans to extend the Railways to the North.
Investors are taking advantage of all these and planning ahead.
Equally, there are quite a number of micro finance institutions operating in the Northern Region.
At the last count and still counting by the Northern Regional Chapter of the Association of Rural Banks, available records have proven that since November 2013, there were 52 micro finance institutions operating in the entire Northern Region.
These include the oldest known as Bonzali Rural Bank, Bayport Financial Services, First National Savings and Loans, Sinapi Aba Trust Savings and Loans and Izwe Financial Services.
Citi Business News investigations discovered that some of these mushroom micro finance institutions are operating illegally and are on daily basis defrauding customers.
This is not only affecting saving mobilization and loan repayment but also making it difficult for legally established micro finance institutions to gain the confidence of prospective customers.
General Manager of Bonzali Rural Bank, Mr. Paul Atsu Fiawoo in a Citi Business News interview called for the decentralization of the department established by the Bank of Ghana responsible for monitoring the performance of other financial institutions operating in the country.
He said most of the micro finance companies have so far defrauded residents of the Tamale Metropolis under the pretence of operating with Bonzali Rural Bank.
Traditional banks such as the Ghana Commercial Bank, Agric Development Bank and the National Investment Bank, Barclays and the Standard Chartered Banks are struggling with these new banks for the existing small petty traders and local contractors in the region.
It is unclear yet whether authorities of these banks have plans to open branches across the Northern Region.
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana