Ecobank – Rwanda SA, a subsidiary of Ecobank Group, a pan-African banking conglomerate with banking operations in 36 African countries could be going through a crisis.
Sources close to the bank revealed to KT Press that the bank has a plan to lay off five branches across the country putting over 50 jobs at risk.
The source said, five branches that will close business in January 2018 are in strategic locations including; four secondary cities – Musanze, Rubavu, Nyagatare, Muhanga, and Rwamagana.
Musanze and Rubavu are key touristic destinations of the country and are the way to Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), the key consumer of Rwandan agriculture/manufacturing products.
Nyagatare, country’s milk stock is also increasingly gaining fame with new hotels, modern farming and agro-processing industry, on top of other industries and a vibrant service sector.
Muhanga and Rwamagana literarily constitute an extension of City of Kigali. Many people work in Kigali but sleep in either of the two cities or vice versa.
The news comes just one year after the bank closed also three key branches in the capital city; Remera, Kimironko, the busiest neighborhoods where all the remaining commercial banks compete to have a branch.
The other branch that was closed is Nyabugogo which is considered the city hub with an international tax park, important commodity stores and markets.
Up country, Ngoma, Nyanza, Ruhango, Karongi and Gicumbi branches were also closed around the same time.
Manzi Don Yusuf, the bank’s marketing manager confirmed that Ecobank has already listed five branches which will be closed in January 2018.
“It’s true we are reducing our branch network, and turning technology to deliver to customers and processing transactions centrally,” Manzi said.
He also noted that the move to a digitalized banking in Rwanda by Ecobank was launched in February 2017, which has been introduced through its upgraded mobile banking app.
Without statistics of how many of its customers who subscribed to mobile and online, the marketing manager Manzi said that the bank’s customers are increasingly migrating technology channels.
“I know some customers will be really disappointed that we are closing branches and I understand that. But it’s important that the management do respond to the changes that are happening in banking sector.”
The 2016 statement shows Ecobank Rwanda recorded Rwf3.2 billion ($3.8 million) loss after tax compared with a profit of Rwf706 million ($836,098) in 2015.
Manzi added that the Pan African bank has invested in its remaining branches and its digital offering.
On top of a number of a couple of branches in Kigali, if the bank closes the next five branches, it will remain with Rusizi and Huye branches operating upcountry.
Alice Kilonzo-Zulu, Managing Director of Ecobank Rwanda also reaffirmed its commitment to digital transformation as sole reason to close shop in several branches.
The official said they want to enable customers to carry out banking activities online, thereby reducing the need to visit physical locations.
“Closing some of our branches and rather investing in this Digital strategy directly facilitates one of the fundamental enablers of our economy – financial and economic inclusion. With this, Ecobank will be able to serve and reach out to more customers, including the unbanked,” added Alice Kilonzo-Zulu.
“As a financial services institution with a significant footprint across Africa, Ecobank Rwanda takes its role in delivering this necessary and Innovative transformation to every Rwandan.”
Zulu noted that being digital lies at the heart of the future of banking because banking is no longer about having a physical presence; it is more about what people do in their daily lives at the point when they need to purchase goods and services.