By Stephen Ubanna
Aware of the importance of Human Capital in its operations, the Kingsley Uzoka , Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa, regarded as Pan African global bank in financial circles, and his Management Team appear to have taken some bold initiative to protect the Staff and Customers of the bank from the Asian country of China pandemic Coronavirus.
This is evident going by the suspension of the yearly Chief Executive officer , CEO, Staff award, and the popular UBA Market place event as well as the cancellation of all avoidable international Trips for Workshops outside the country by officials of the bank until the Coronavirus situation improves. The most worrisome was the suspension of the UBA Market Place event, which according to informed sources, bring together thousands of people yearly both within and outside the African Continent to support and celebrate Africa’s blossoming Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs.
Investigation by The Value News shows that many beneficiaries of the non refundable loan from the $100 million, Tony Elumelu Foundation,popular, TEF, had looked forward to the yearly event over the last 10 years in order to showcase their products to the public and make new business connections. The tenth edition of the event was supposed to be held this year but had been forestalled by the deadly Coronavirus sickness which is ravaging the world.
Insiders told the Magazine that though, the event had been cancelled out there is still hope of holding it as soon the Coronavirus situation improves. The bank was said to have spent millions of naira in the last three months to procure non contact thermometers, to test Temperature, wash bins and Alcohol based sanitizers. This is in addition to disinfectants.
The bank security personnel who had been trained for the handling of the non contact Thermometer tools, the Magazine could attest, are really using it to check the Staff and Customers Temperature before being allowed to any branch of the bank to conduct their financial transactions. The security personnel are also enforcing the use of the Alcohol based sanitizers on both the Staff and Customers and other visitors of the bank.
The disinfectants that had been acquired by the bank, according to sources are frequently used at the bank branches both Locally and overseas including the Automatic Teller Machines, ATMs, galleries, to protect both Staff and Customers from contacting the deadly disease.
A Customer who visited the Headquarters’ office of the bank last on Friday, March 20, 2020, disclosed that the hygiene officers of the bank are also working round the Clock to ensure that the issue of hygiene in the bank was taken very serious. The Hygiene Staff were said to have provided wash bins and regularly mop the bank floors with water and bleach to kill the germs and other bacteria found on the floor.
The hyegiene Staff were said to have also taken it as a responsibility to disinfect the bank door handles , flat surfaces including Telephones at the offices. The Magazine learnt that they do that three time daily before the close of work. Given that the sickness has a Contagious effect that could only be contacted through body contact, the bank Management appear to have reduced the personal contact at the bank There is no gain saying the fact physical meetings at the bank have gradually giving way for Platforms such as micro Teams for such meetings and issues concerning the daily running of the bank to be exhaustively discussed and distributed until the Coronavirus pandemic improves
According to Financial experts UBA had set a standard for other banks operating within the country to follow in this abnormal times, occasioned by the Asian country of China hatched disease.
While UBA , had contributed both funds and provided other forms of support to the government in tackling the sickness within the country, the World Band and the International Finance Corporation, IFC, were said to have increased their COVID 19, response to $14 billion to help sustain the economies of affected countries and protect jobs.
The $114 billion package, which was approved by the Bank and the IFC, Board of Directors, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020,was expected o fast –track financing to assist Companies and countries in their efforts to prevent , detect and respond to the rapid spread of the sickness.
It was also expected to strengthen countries public Health preparedness to contain the spread of the sickness and other disease diagnosis and Treatment as well as support for the private sector.
A Bank source disclosed , that the IFC, which is a member of the World Bank, may have agreed to increase its COVID funding to $8 billion from the initial $6 billion as part of the $14 billion package, in order to support the private sector and their Staff hurt by the economic down turn caused by the spread of COVID 19.
Investigations by The Magazine shows that the bulk of the money would go to the deposit banks to enable the Financial Institutions to continue to offer trade financing, working Capital support and Medium Term Financing to private Companies struggling with disruptions in their supply chains.
There are indications that $2 billion had been provided by the Global Trade Liquidity Programme and the Critical Commodities Finance programme, both of which offer risk sharing to the local banks also in order to continue their lending to Companies in need, especially the SMEs. This is where UBA plc had to be applauded over it its Market Place Events which had produced thousands of SMEs over the years and are still doing it to sustain the country’s economy.
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