Theme: The Changing Face of the Financial Services Sector
The Provost of the College of Agriculture, the Dean of UGBS, former deans of UGBS, the Managing Director of Barclays Bank of Ghana, professors and lecturers of UGBS, students of UGBS, Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to be invited to this chair function, and I would first of all like to thank the management of UGBS and the organizers of this event for bringing me back home. I completed my BSc Administration course in 1979 and was a lecturer here from 1990 to 1994. I miss my time here as a student, and indeed, I miss my time here as a lecturer.
Secondly, I want to congratulate the school for maintaining the tradition of commemorating this day over the past twenty-nine years, and I want to pay tribute to the originators of this annual event.
Thirdly, I want to congratulate the planners of this event for choosing a most appropriate theme The Changing Face of the Financial Services Sector of Ghana. This theme is appropriate given the trends that are observable in this very important sector.
As students, and future innovators, it is important that you understand the nature and the causes of these trends. This is why I also want to commend the planners for assembling a very distinguished panel of speakers to do justice to the subject.
The financial services sector is one of the most important sectors of our economy, and obviously, of all other economies. And this is why our governments over the years have pursued various programmes to reform or develop the sector so that it can propel our economic growth.
You would recall programmes that were implemented as part of our structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s and 1990s. These programmes spawned the various discount houses, which contributed significantly to the development of our money markets, and the Ghana Stock Exchange, which was a mere three-broker market with only eleven listed companies in November, 1990. Today, we have several stockbrokers and more than thirty listed companies. We also have several fund management companies, finance houses and other non-bank financial institutions.
On the banking front, we have moved from specialist commercial, merchant and development banks, and have embraced the concept of universal banks, while seeing an influx of foreign banks, especially from Nigeria. We have also seen the emergence of individual bank-owned ATMs and an independent platform, with the launch of e-zwich by the Bank of Ghana. And Barclays Bank Ghana recently launched the first-ever off-shore banking facility in West Africa.
Similar developments are changing the face of our insurance industry, which has also seen a big increase in the number of players. Life insurance and off-shore banking are two very important sub-sectors of our financial sector.
Life insurance premiums are part of the nation's long-term savings, and so life insurance companies are very important in channeling savings into investments, thereby enhancing capital formation. If you recall that lack of capital is often cited as the bane in our development, then you would appreciate that the activities of life insurance companies have important implications for our economic growth and development.
Also, by providing a hedge against adversity, life insurance enhances economic and social stability, which is vital for growth. The benefits are the reasons why the government provides various fiscal and other incentives to encourage people to take up life insurance in the hope of increasing life premium incomes as a percentage of GDP.
Off-shore banks are also very important in mobilizing capital, in this case, international capital. They are therefore a source of foreign exchange. They also encourage cross-border trade, and provide employment and income. That is why the government has offered the required tax incentives to help launch the Barclays off-shore banking as the international banking component of the international financial services centre objective of the Financial Sector Development Programme.
As I said earlier, I am happy we have a distinguished group of professionals to speak to us on the subject. All that I need to say by way of introduction is what I have said.
Once again, I want to thank the organizers for the honour and the privilege of chairing this event which has brought together our very distinguished professors and speakers.
I count on your support and cooperation so that at the end of the day, we all would feel our time has been well spent, and we would leave with pleasant memories of a successful event.