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Interview: Centenary Group Chairman Prof. Ddumba Ssentamu reveals empire’s strategic direction

By Marvin Ocol

Centenary Group Chairman Prof. Ddumba Ssetamu has revealed the empire’s strategic direction.

This was yesterday as the Government of Uganda and Centenary Group signed an MoU to provide expertise, ICT advisory and consultancy services to support the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in developing strategies, implementing infrastructure related services and sharing knowledge to resolve some of the issues faced by Uganda in the ICT sector.

While speaking at the event, Prof. Ddumba gave a long speech which we now bring to you in the form of an interview as below:

Question: With the new addition to Centenary Bank, what becomes of Centenary?

Answer: We are now known as Centenary Rural Group Ltd or in short Centenary Group. Centenary Group was incorporated on 25/October/2019 and became operational on 1/7/2020.

Question: What is the Group mandated to do?

Answer: The objectives of forming the Group were: Create structures for diversification and expansion without interfering with the Bank operations, create avenues in consolidating investments of the shareholder with opportunity for maximizing values, synergies among our shareholders, raise capital, address a change business environment by creating strategies for managing business disruptors such as mobile money, and to respond to the changing customer references.

Question: How about the Vision and Mission?

Answer: Our vision as a Group is to be a preferred Group in financial inclusion and innovative business solutions and our mission is to transform lives of the people and promote environmental conservation through financial inclusion and innovative business solutions.

Question: What is the current status of Centenary Group?

Answer: Currently, Centenary Group has 3 operating subsidiaries all located here at Mapeera House which is owned by the Group. These are: Centenary Bank (our flagship subsidiary), Centenary Technology Services and Centenary Foundation.

Question: What does the future hold for Centenary Group?

Answer: We are hoping that within one year, the Group will have established 3 additional companies: Centenary Investment Services, Centenary Property Development and Management Company and another company will be in the area of Insurance.

Question: Does Centenary intend to extend services across borders, if yes, where?

Answer: The Group is also exploring the possibility of taking the Centenary Bank brand outside Uganda, possibly in DRC, Sudan or Kenya. We do believe that this is the opportune time for Centenary Group to extend services beyond the borders. Our flagship company, Centenary Bank, is visioned to be the best provider of financial services especially microfinance and the mission of our bank is to provide appropriate financial services especially microfinance especially to all people particularly in the rural areas in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the law.

Question: What do you make of Centenary Bank?

Answer: Centenary Bank is the leading commercial microfinance bank not only in Uganda but also in Africa, serving over 2.5 million customers with an asset base of 4.7 trillion shillings and the focus now is financial inclusion. Our bank is serving these customers through a network of 80 branches, 5,200 agents, 192 ATMs across the country as well as online banking.

Question: And the Foundation?

Answer: Centenary Group Foundation is another company within the Group focusing on implementing programmes that improve the social welfare of the beneficiaries. The focus areas of the foundation are education, environment, health and the social mission of the Catholic Church.

Question: How about CenteTech?

It provides holistic technological solutions and is aimed at developing and implementing technological advancement strategies for the Group, managing markets through technology and providing IT support services to the Group subsidiary companies. CenteTech develops technical infrastructure to harness the synergies among church institutions and can benefit from the ICT ecosystem. The Vision of CenteTech is to be the choice ICT partner for market expansion and eradicating poverty among the rural communities and the mission is delivering innovation that matters to enable and inspire growth.

Question: Who are the brains behind CenteTech?

Answer: At the helm of the CenteTech, we have Dr. Grace Ssekakubo, Peter Kahigi, Rohina Turinawe and Steven Kirenga.

Question: Why these four?

With a combined ICT industrial experience of over 75 year in the public and private sector, this is the best team you can have to be a company like CenteTech. Their niche lies in ICT advisory and research, ICT management services and infrastructure, and ICT innovation and digital services.

Question: Will CenteTech serve only the Group’s subsidiaries?

Answer: CenteTech is here to serve not only the Centenary ecosystem but also the entire country.

Question: How and why?

Answer: We are aware that the government of Uganda through the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has identified ICT as a major initiative of development and included it as a key pillar in the National Development Plan III. Indeed ICT has a great potential to improve national productivity by making government and business enterprises more efficient, effective and globally competitive.

Question: What’s the choice of ICT?

Answer: The ICT sector is one of the rapidly growing sectors of the economy, growing at a rate of about 27% and the sector’s contribution to economic growth in terms of the share to GDP stands at about 3% and the ICT sector employs about 2.8 million people. So CenteTech is ready to be part of this journey and to contribute to the economic growth of this country and therefore, CenteTech will use ICT as an enabler for social transformation. The deliberate participation comes at a time when innovation and co-innovation has become very crucial in the development process. Co-innovation and collaboration are crucial to Uganda’s social and economic growth. The Group with all its subsidiaries is ready to work with the government in uplifting the rural communities. We are ready to transform the lives of our people.

Question: What does the Mou between Centenary Group and Government of Uganda entail?

CenTech is committed to provide expertise, ICT advisory and consultancy services to support the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in developing strategies, implementing infrastructure related services and sharing knowledge to resolve some of the issues faced by Uganda in the ICT sector and this is a priority for the Group and all its subsidiaries.

Question: What is the assurance on your side about this MoU?

Answer: This will be a successful collaboration from our side and look forward to strengthening our partnership as we together build a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive Uganda economy.

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