Uganda: Post Bank to Transition Into Commercial Bank

Post Bank has said it has completed a five-year strategy in which it will seek to transition into a fully-fledged commercial bank.

The bank, which currently operates as a tier two financial institutions, said last week the strategy will be the launch pad through which it will deliver on its new agenda of becoming a pacesetter, especially in creating products that impact society.

Speaking in an interview last week, Mr Julius Kakeeto, the Post Bank managing director, said that whereas they are currently licensed as a tier two financial institution, they have built enough capacity to compete with large commercial banks.

Therefore, he said, management had already built a consensus with the board to move onto the next level.

"We are no longer competing with tier two financial institutions. Actually, we are now competing with large commercial banks," he said, noting the bank has in the last three years registered some good growth, which puts it in position to move to the next level.

Post Bank, which is wholly owned by government, has since 2019 been undergoing a lot of transformation, much of which seeks to align both its systems and structures to commercial banking.

In February, the Ministry of Finance fully constituted the Post Bank board, appointing Andrew Otengo Owiny as the new chairman.

This came after a series of high-level recruitments in which Mr Kakeeto had, in 2019, been appointed as the new managing director.

In April 2019, a team of detectives from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit raided Post Bank in which at least seven top officials were arrested over embezzlement and abuse of office.

The officials were later charged before the Anti-Corruption Court and the case is yet to be disposed of.

This was one of the biggest challenges in which the bank has had to work through to build confidence among its clients and the general public.

Mr Kakeeto said such challenges have been an eye opener that the bank has used to build a new chapter backed by a restructuring plan that is expected to be completed this month.

The restructuring, which was conducted by True North Africa, was part of the larger plan, according to Mr Kakeeto, in which the bank sought to put in place necessary requirements such as minimum capital, sufficient stuffing and risk management measures to assist in the transition journey.

"We had to use these challenges to reorganise. We had to take some bold decision, but they have created room for a new agenda. We have hired and put together a group of people who will assist us in our new drive. Beyond this we have also improved our systems a great deal," he said.

Post Bank did not give timelines when it will push through with the transition but Mr Kakeeto said a number of requirements are being put in place so that by the time they approach the Central Bank everything is set.

Mr Andrew Kabeera, the Post Bank executive director, said the bank had noted some good growth in its loan book, with agricultural financing, growing from Shs48b in 2019 to Shs83b, which represents an increase of at least 50 per cent.

When Daily Monitor contacted Bank of Uganda (BoU) about Post Bank's decision, Dr Adam Mugume, the director research at BoU said: "I am not aware whether they (Post Bank) have applied."

Dr Mugume added that if they have the capital and can prove to BoU that its management satisfies the proper criteria, "there is nothing that can stop Post Bank to become a fully-fledged bank."

Focus on agricultural financing

According to Mr Kabeera, Post Bank has been putting serious focus on agricultural financing, which calls for mobilisation of patient capital.

"Given its nature, agriculture needs patient capital and this is something we are looking into. Agriculture has too much potential but you need to plan long-term and be patient," he said.

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