By Julius N. Uma
December 9, 2012 (TORIT) - The Governor of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state on Friday urged citizens in the state to take out bank loans to help realize meaningful development in their communities.
- Louis Lobong Lojore, the Eastern Equatoria State Governor speaking at the launch of a branch of Equity Bank in Torit, 6 December 2012 (ST)
Louis Lobong Lojore made these remarks on Friday, while officially launching a branch of the Equity Bank in the state capital, Torit.
"Let us use this facility to manage our resources. This kind of investment, if well utilised, can bring development and job creation," he said
With eight branches now fully operating in the young nation, the Kenyan bank has emerged as a leading financial player in South Sudan. The world’s youngest nation has run its own banking system since 2005 when it earned a large degree of autonomy as part of a peace deal.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 and has been keen to develop a western banking and move away from the Islamic banking previously imposed by Khartoum.
Governor Lojore, however, cautioned the population against mismanagement of bank loans, saying all money borrowed from banks should be put to proper use and not diverted for other priorities.
"I urge you not to go and acquire loans from the bank for marriage, but rather invest the money so that you can remain with some after repaying back the bank loan," said the Governor.
Paul Gitahi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Equity Bank, described the launch of the bank as a milestone in efforts to transform the lives and livelihoods of people socially and economically.
Equity Bank, he assured, will continue to make positive impacts on peoples’ lives through its inclusive customer focus service.
With a current client base of about eight million people, Equity is reportedly the biggest bank in East and Central Africa, with a footprint in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Currently, the bank is reportedly Kenya’s largest bank by deposits.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kenyi Spencer, an Equity Bank Board member, said the bank is determined to improve peoples’ living standards, alleviate poverty, assist poor, but economically active part of communities in South Sudan.
“The presence of Equity bank in the state will increase peoples’ access to affordable credit and other services,” Dr. Kenyi said.
He, however, noted that the bank would give priority to improving the agricultural sector, on which nearly 80% of the population depend for economic survival in the country.
“Our focus will be geared towards improving the food security situation of the population in the communities,” he said, while emphasizing the need for an agro-based value chain to stimulate this plans.
South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest nations as a result of decades of conflict, chronic under-investment and bad governance.