Patricia Ojangole: African star development banker
Implementing holistic sustainability has positioned UDB as a bona fide enabler of a modern, green and socially-inclusive Ugandan economy.
Patricia Ojangole, Managing Director, Uganda Development Bank Limited, discusses the performance of UDB under her leadership, factors driving the bank's achievements and the integration of sustainability in the bank's strategic planning and ultimately the Bank’s operations. She was interviewed by Jide Akintunde, Managing Editor, Financial Nigeria – Africa’s premier development and finance journal.
Meet Patricia Ojangole
Patricia Ojangole is the Managing Director/CEO of Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDB). As CEO of UDB, Ms. Ojangole has repositioned the Bank to become a trusted partner of the Government of Uganda in financing the sustainable development agenda of the country. She is specifically credited for rebuilding stakeholder confidence in the Bank, ensuring UDB has continued to attract investment capital from its shareholders and bilateral and multilateral partners.
Under the leadership of Ms. Ojangole, UDB is pursuing three high impact goals – namely, reducing poverty in Uganda; creating a sustainable food system for Uganda; and industrialising Uganda.
Ms. Ojangole was elected as the 1st Vice President of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI) in May 2019. She is also a member of the Board of the association of development finance institutions (DFIs) in the member countries of the Islamic Development Bank (ADFIMI), as well as serving on the Boards of several funds and development organisations.
Before her appointment as CEO of UDB in December 2012, Ms. Ojangole was the Chief Internal Auditor of the bank, which she joined in August of the previous year. Prior to joining UDB, she was a Senior Manager, Internal Audit, at Standard Bank Group in Uganda.
Ms. Ojangole holds a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and an executive Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI), Tanzania. She is currently undertaking her PhD studies, with research interests in national development finance institutions, financial sector development and sustainable finance.
A Fellow of the Association of the Certified Chartered Accountants (UK), Ms. Ojangole is also a Member of both the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) and the Institute of Internal Auditors Uganda (IIA).
Jide Akintunde (JA): How is Uganda Development Bank (UDB) responding to the impacts of Covid-19 in Uganda?
Patricia Ojangole (PO): Uganda Development Bank has been fully responsive to the ongoing crisis. While Covid-19 is a public health crisis, it also has significant economic implications because of the need to quarantine and social distance to reduce the spread of the virus. As a result, economic activities have virtually halted.
As part of our initial responses, we have engaged all our clients to discuss the specific implications of the coronavirus on their businesses. Based on our findings, we are working in partnership with them to implement various measures to support their businesses through this period.
This is a critical period to fulfil our mandate of providing countercyclical intervention to help stabilise the Ugandan economy. We have the organizational capacities and capabilities to support critical sectors of the economy.
Our Government is also providing us with additional funding to enable us scale up our interventions to support existing and new industries as part of its strategy to implement its import substitution policy.
Mainstreaming sustainability in a holistic manner into our strategy and operations, as prescribed by the Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative, has underpinned our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The innovation culture and institutional agility required to become Sustainability-Certified DFI have enhanced our responses to our various stakeholders.
JA: UDB has been on an upward performance trajectory. What are the areas of the Bank’s improved performances?
PO: UDB has grown over the last couple of years and it continues on its growth trajectory. In terms of its cumulative performance over the last three years, the bank’s total assets grew by 63 per cent, profitability improved by 48 per cent, shareholder funds rose by 63 per cent, while borrowings from various funding sources increased by 73 per cent.
The bank has continued to deliver on its development impact aspirations. UDB’s financing interventions created and maintained up to 54,000 jobs in 2018 alone. Furthermore, the capacity of UDB staff has improved tremendously over the last few years. UDB’s brand health has also significantly improved.
As a testament to the increase in the bank’s fortunes, UDB has consistently been rated favourably amongst peer institutions on the continent. For instance, the bank has been rated A+ by the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI) for the last four years, and B+ (with stable outlook) by Fitch Ratings. UDB has also been the recipient of various local and international awards, including excellence in financial reporting by the Institute of Public Accountants of Uganda.
JA: Is the Bank leaning on a new strategy to raise its performance and profile, or is it making the most of its business as usual?
PO: We keep reviewing our corporate strategy and processes all the time. For this reason, it is not business as usual all through. At UDB, we always try to find new approaches and new ways of doing things and our people are constantly challenged to think differently.
For example, last year, we had to review our strategic plan, which itself was Board-approved in recent past. The implementation of the plan had been going very well, I must say. But after the first year of implementing it, we realized the need to review the strategy because we were convinced it was the right thing to do.
JA: Being a state-owned DFI comes with certain perception issues, in terms of corporate governance, resource allocation, and overall efficiency. How is UDB positioned to be able to build a good brand and deliver value to its stakeholders?
PO: The successes that UDB has registered over the last couple of years have been on the strength of a number of factors. Key amongst these factors are improved efficiency of the bank’s operations and clarity of UDB’s mandate.
Emanating from our successes is the improved stakeholder appreciation the bank has received. The recognition of UDB’s critical role by the bank’s stakeholders has increased their interest and commitment to the bank’s success. Consequently, significantly higher capital allocations have been given to the bank during the last few years.
UDB’s achievements have been underpinned by effective corporate governance principles, which have been developed and supported by a strong, effective and independent Board of Directors. The Board exercises oversight over a competent and diverse team comprised of Management and staff. It also oversees our robust internal control and risk management frameworks.
Although UDB is wholly owned by the Government of Uganda, the bank is incorporated as a limited liability company and governed by the Companies Act. This provides the bank the benefit of being independently managed by the Board and Management.
JA: Under your leadership of the management, we understand that UDB is embracing holistic sustainability. Why is this important for you and for the Bank?
PO: We have a mandate to promote sustainable socio-economic development in Uganda. And achieving sustainable development requires a long-term perspective and the ability to harness multi-stakeholder cooperation. As the country’s national development finance institution and key player in the financial services sector, first, it is imperative for UDB to integrate sustainability across its operations and processes. Second, the bank has a commitment to champion the adoption of key pillars of sustainability in the communities where it operates, and influence the sustainable development agenda of the country.
UDB is at the forefront of leveraging public, private and international commitments and actions to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda by 2030.
But for the bank to drive sustainable development in Uganda, it must be financially resilient as an institution, support the economic growth of the nation, deliver measurable social impact and be environmentally responsible. Adopting holistic sustainability presents us with the opportunity to integrate environmental, social, and economic considerations into our core business strategy. It positions us as a bona fide enabler of a modern, green and socially inclusive Ugandan economy.
JA: As a state-owned DFI, UDB would be expected to invest in the areas that support government’s economic targets. For international investors, who may be curious to know the investment climate and opportunities in the Ugandan economy, what are the things you would like to highlight to them?
PO: Uganda is one of the few African countries that has, over the past few years, recorded high economic growth rates, averaging 6.0% annually between 2018 and 2019. The rate of inflation is low and stable at less than the medium-term target of 5%.
A lot of opportunities for investment exist within the agriculture value chain, especially in agro-industrialization and agricultural production, manufacturing, infrastructure development, among others. Additionally, the government has put in place several incentives, which are both tax and non-tax in nature, to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The business confidence index has been growing and the country has been peaceful for more than three decades.
JA: What is the strategic outlook of UDB in terms of mobilizing funding and building partnerships that are needed to make more resources available for investing by the Bank?
PO: On the back of our recent successes, we have seen stronger support from the government to recapitalise the bank. We have also continued to see increased support from multilateral and bilateral partners. Those are the traditional sources.
But beyond those sources, we are working with other partners and laying a foundation to mobilise a blend of domestic resources through different channels to support our intervention efforts across the public and private sectors.
JA: Congratulations on recently becoming a Vice President of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI). What are the priorities of the association under its extant leadership?
PO: Thank you. The priorities for the Association should be to support its members build institutional sustainability so that they can become autonomous and ably accelerate socio economic growth in their countries. We seek to build an Association of member DFIs that will champion the alignment of their business models with the new economy that is driven by technology, innovation and high level of human capital. These are the DFIs that will create more value for all their stakeholders. With the commitment of our executive committee and all the members, and by achieving this aspiration, we will be more relevant to our societies and communities. We also believe the time for us to do this is now.
JA: What are the goals that UDB will like to pursue over the medium term, i.e. the next three to five years?
PO: The bank will focus on making key contributions towards uplifting the quality of life of Ugandans. In its sustainability strategy, the Bank is looking to undertake various programmes across its sectors of intervention and across all the identified cross-cutting issues. These will result in specific impacts that will enable the realization of our purpose.