Ecobank, the last in a series of out-of-town commercial banks to operate a branch in Lofa, a geographically isolated county In Liberia, closed its doors to residents of Lofa County on February 7, 2020.
Posted on the wall of its entrance is a notice that tells visitors to patronize the bank’s branches in Ganta, Nimba County, and its ATM machine in Gbarnga, Bong County
The local branch’s closure has been a major blow to residents of Lofa. Local business owners no longer have a place to deposit cash, nor anywhere nearby to apply for a loan.
Many senior citizens, especially those uncomfortable with digital banking, have felt an outsize impact.
The absence of a commercial bank branch in Lofa also makes it harder to attract new residents, said Jallah Akoi, owner of a popular night club in Voinjama, whose family has lived in the area for more than 10 years.
Lofa’s experience of the closure of Eco bank illustrates how much the closing of the sole local commercial bank branch can mean in a rural community, even to residents who were not particularly pleased with their branch before it was shut down.
And it foretells a worrisome future for many other small rural towns and villages.
The economic implications are enough of a concern to the senator of the county, Steve Zargo, who has one of the biggest hotels in Voinjama. Senator Zargo told Journalists that it is regrettable that residents no longer have access to a local commercial branch. “The loss of Eco bank branch has a ripple effect on Lofa County as a whole,” Senator Zargo said.