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CBE undergoes another restructuring

The giant state-owned bank, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) has rolled out a new organizational structure, the second one since the administration of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) took office in 2018.

The new structure, developed in-house and aimed at bringing about corporate paradigm to the operation of the state banking giant, replaces another one, developed and implemented during the short-lived tenure of Bacha Gina, the former president of CBE. Bacha’s leadership commissioned foreign consultants to conduct the restructuring work at the time, which generally resulted in the disappointment of both the staff and the leadership of the Bank. The restructuring in question was dismissed for the uneven procedure and hierarchical work flow, which drew criticism from all sides.

The latest structure, however, is said to give “attention to customers, products, functional and geographical distribution of resources,” according to a document The Reporter accessed. Accordingly, the new design places the 1,592 branches of the Bank into three broad regions with ten districts each; and the 30 districts having 50 branches under them. The flatness of the structure is intended to bring about quality and easiness of control with an end goal of realigning corporate values towards the vision, the document professes. This doubles the number of districts which are supposedly going to be filled with directors to be assigned from the regional bodies.

At the center (upper tier) of the structure is the Board of Directors of the Bank, overseeing the Bank’s activities through the President. Under the president come the vice presidents, directors and managers.

Along with the branches and digital banking divisions, the Bank has 12 divisions namely resource and credit management, credit appraisal and portfolio management, international banking, legal and loan recovery, facilities, strategy and business development, human resource, finance, interest free banking, information systems, and quality management and control.

At the branch level, under the manager, there will be a business manager (customer service manager), manager for branch operations (senior officer), and manager for quality management and control (senior manager for quality management and control). But, the number of officers and the hierarchies at branch level varies depending on the level of the branches. Apparently, the branches of the Bank, under the new structure, are designated as special and grade IV branch, grade III, II and I.

At a grade four branch, for instance, the required personnel list includes a branch manager, business manager, customer service manager, operation manager, quality management and control manager, senior quality management and control officer and quality management and control officer, digital banking officers, and other staff like junior officers and trainees. When it comes to a grade one branch, the personnel include branch manager, customer service manager, senior operation officer, senior quality management and control officer, quality management and control officer and other staff like digital banking officers, junior officers and trainees. Hence, in grade I some structures like business managers are absent altogether, while branch divisions such as operations and quality management and control are led by senior officers as opposed to having managers as in the case of grade IV branches.     

A newly embedded function in the Bank’s structure is the internet free banking wing with Sharia Advisory Council as a mediator with the president of the Bank. The other sections under the internet free banking are financing, finance appraisal, and operations. Under operation are product development and business expansion, operation support, accounting and reporting.

In a message CBE’s president Abie Sano sent to the employees, he said that the Bank had registered success in regards to expanding modern banking system and supporting the national development. Hence, the new structure is needed “to cope up with this rapid growth and changing dynamics in the banking sector.”

“Although the recent revisions had their own positive contributions, the need for refinement to accommodate possible new changes is always there. Hence, the management of the Bank decided to introduce new organizational structure using in-house capacity so as to address the drawbacks observed in the existing structure,” Abie noted.

He also said that the new structure was done after an assessment of the existing one which was identified to have some bottlenecks in operations.

He further noted that, “the new organizational structure is expected to promote the efforts of resources mobilization and its allocation to viable investments. In addition, it will help the Bank to ensure the safety of depositors and promote its ability to play active developmental roles in the economy. In this critical time, where there is a global and national health challenges (COVID-19) and weak economic activities, the patience and commitments of both employees and the management are important so as to meet the intended purpose of the new structure.”

The new structure also incorporates chief of staffs that will be responsible for facilitation of administrative issues of the senior management which are directly reporting to the president and include the team of executive staffs.

The new organizational structure of the bank is being implemented beginning from last week.

CBE’s newly appointed corporate communications director, Yeabsira Kebede, did not reply to The Reporter’s request for information regarding the expert composition of the in-house personnel that developed the structure as well as the budget that the new structure consumed.