Kampala, Uganda — Centenary Bank, the largest indigenous bank here last week unveiled its new headquarters, Mapeera House, in the heart of Kampala City.
It showed that the bank has come of age, is robust and ready to lead the banking industry.
The iconic building which will heighten competition in the financial industry, was unveiled by President Yoweri Museveni at a ceremony which also marked its silver jubilee.
The President hailed Centenary Bank and the Catholic Church for setting up the modern corporate office which cost about $40 million (Ush100b).
The house boasts of 19 floors, 24 teller counters and 16 ATMs, and 96 parking spaces.
Construction of the building began in September 2007 and consists of 17,000 square meters of office space and about 16, 000 square meters for parking. The office premises are designed with ample space to allow Centenary Bank to offer faster banking services in a convenient and conducive environment for its customers.
In his welcome remarks, Prof. Ddumba Ssentamu, the chairman board of directors at Centenary Bank said, the opening of the masterpiece is a sign that the bank has come of age.
"As we open the doors to Mapeera House, the newest jewel of our city, we affirm to the world that Centenary Bank is a mature, reliable bank with sound governance structures.
"He added that the building was financed from the bank's retained earnings without a loan, an indication that the bank can now finance investments bigger than its new home given its financial prowess and ability to survive in murky waters.
Centenary Bank's lending portfolio stands at Shs520 billion ($209m), while its assets are projected to hit the Shs1 trillion mark this year. ($400m)
The remarkable statistics place the number one indigenous microfinance bank in the league of Uganda's top 5 commercial banks. With faster services, a modern banking halls and a prime location in the central business district, Centenary Bank is poised to be a force to reckon starting this year.
Mapeera House was designed by Messrs Ssentoogo & Partners, one of Uganda's best architects; construction was done by Roko Construction Limited- Uganda's finest builders.
The building is named after Father Lourdel Simeon Mapeera in honour of his great contribution to the establishment of the Catholic Church in Uganda.
Father Lourdel was the first Catholic missionary to set foot in Uganda in 1879.
The opening of the Mapeera House coincided with the celebration of Over 25 Years of Banking Excellence by Centenary Bank, following its establishment in 1983. Prof Ddumba said the bank was celebrating close to 30 years of banking in Uganda because it has kept its promise to provide financial services especially microfinance to all people in Uganda, particularly in the rural areas.
"Given the history of our economy, celebrating Over 25 Years of Banking Excellence demonstrates our strength, and ability to withstand storms through turbulent times. It also shows our determination to thrive in a dynamic environment to continue transforming the lives of our people," he told guests at the ceremony.
On behalf of the bank, Prof. Ddumba, recognised the six individuals who founded Centenary Bank including; Mr. Simeon Lutaakome, Mr. Hugh Francis Pulle (RIP), Mr. Paul Kateregga, Mr. Vincent Kirabo kya Maria, Mr. Emmanuel Mpande (RIP) and Mr. John Ogutu (RIP).
The bank started operations as Centenary Rural Development Trust Limited, a credit trust, with the objective of providing affordable financial services to the poor people in Uganda so that they could be empowered economically.
It was also established in honour of the missionaries who founded the Catholic Church in Uganda according to Mr Lutaakome. Centenary became a fully-fledged commercial bank in 1993 when it was licensed as a commercial bank by the Bank of Uganda.
With over 1.2 million customers and growing, centenary leads the banking industry in the microfinance segment and is the number one provider of agriculture finance support in the country.
The new Mapeera house, brings to 53, the number of Centenary Bank's branches across the country and over 100 Automated Teller Machines.