|Ecobank Ghana in collaboration with the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC), on Tuesday 23 June, 2020 organised an online session dubbed “Adapting to a New reality”. The program was aimed at addressing the effects of COVID-19 on our health and personal/Business Finance.
The managing director for Ecobank, Mr. Daniel Sackey and the director for the African Center for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. John Nkengasong discussed some pertinent issues regarding our health and business in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Daniel Sackey indicated that it has been a rather challenging moment for the bank as there was no prediction plan to mitigate the pandemic entry. He said, “So far as the banking sector is concerned we also say that we are in phase two. Phase one for us was ensuring the safety of our clients, the safety of our staff, adopting the usual preventive measures that CDC and other organizations had advised".
“ In terms of finance and banking we are in the second phase of it, where we now have to contend with the new normal. The new normal is how do we operate in this environment… we focus on granting clients access to their finances, bank balances, access to be able to make basic transactions”.
Mr. Sackey indicated that collaborating with other telecommunication including GhIPPS to expedite the process of cashless and online transactions has helped the bank to cater to their clients. “We are focused on being able to serve and deliver services to clients using the mobile channels”.
The new normal has also introduced new ways of doing things, and according to Ecobank’s managing director,
“A certain proportion of our staff are at each time out of the office, so we then had to allow people work from home and work from other destination”.
Most companies are diversifying as others are working in tandem to achieve some level of leverage in the economic landscape. On this, Mr. Sackey indicated that EcoBank has equally jumped on wagon by collaborating with some organizations.
He said, “Covid-19 requires that we collaborate from the individual level. Family level and organizational level to be able to defeat it. We are open to collaboration, this event even demonstrates, today we are collaborating with the CDC to be able to reach out to our clients and answer some of the questions regarding their health and also regarding their finances”.
EcoBank also has provided essential packages to vulnerable individuals during the lockdown via the COVID-19 private sector fund which evolved into something bigger by responding to the needs of some hospitals.
Health impact of COVID-19
Dr. Nkengasong iterated that juxtaposing the current situation of the pandemic to five months ago the continent is at a new phase. “It has taken us awhile… to realize that countries reacted quickly…and the lockdown of frontiers and borders slowed down the pandemic.
“As we all know we are unlocking our economies and which is the right thing to do but we should balance it with saving lives and saving the economy.”
He also stated that about 60% of COVID-19 cases are recorded in five countries. However, the accelerating figures in COVID-19 cases begs the question of flattening the curve. To this, he said that due to the heterogeneous nature of the pandemic with countries and regions recording a vast difference in distribution of infection, it’s difficult to make a projection.
There have been various submission on how one can boost their immune system to avert contracting the virus. To this, the CDC director general was of the view that, “we just don’t know that... people developing antibodies that can be protected from subsequent infections. It’s a new virus so there are a lot of caution that has to be exercised”.
Vaccine production has gone through some trials and the CDC director espoused that in Europe, China and the US have gotten to the third stage. He said, “The United States for example… they have enrolled about 30,000 people in phase three courtesy of the vaccine”.
There has been some level of ambivalence towards the future with many wondering which direction the “new world” will take. EcoBank’s MD said,
“society will never be the same… we believe that one of the positive side effects of COVID-19 is drawing our attention to the basic hygiene practice”
New operational model for EcoBank?
The pandemic has indeed offered new route for the banking sector. Mr. Sackey indicated that, “For us the banks, the game changer is that we have also been able to test our systems during this period. We have staff who have been able to work from home, we have to close call centers for 24 hours and our staff were able to access the bank system and able to provide information to clients”.
“When there’s uncertainty, one of the things that we ask our clients to do is to first of all prioritize… to do that, the bank itself has to be resilient by operating in an ecosystem. Going forward there’s hope…we will survive by making sure basic banking services are not disrupted… and we need to have African solutions for African problems”, he added.