Arusha. Bankers who attended the East African Banking Conference last week took one day for a leisure activity by visiting the Arusha National Park.
The tourism activity, which was part of the conference programme, was also followed by entertainment in the evening at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, where the sessions were taking place.
“This is one way of learning about our countries’ history, natural resources as well as knowing the kind of people who live in. As a banker, one needs to know their customers physically and culturally so that you can work cooperatively,” said Mr Patrick Mususa, executive director of the Tanzania Institute of Bankers (TIOB).
The institutes of bankers of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda hosted the five day event that gathered about 100 bankers from the region.
“In the previous years, we took bankers to Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Saadani when the conference was held in Dar es Salaam. This time around we want them to learn about Arusha. We had similar events in Kenya and Uganda,” said Mr Mususa. The Arusha National Park is near the city and contains almost all big animals except the lion.
The bankers were happy to explore the beauty of the Arusha National Park including the animals like giraffes, zebras, warthogs, buffaloes, monkeys and the white colobus monkeys. They also visited the Meru Crater which also has animals like buffaloes.
“We really enjoyed visiting the park. Animals are there in Kenya but every time you visit a park you get new experience and feel nice,” said Mr Dickson Ndegwa from the Central Bank of Kenya. Another participant, Ms Noela Bomani, said the trip was good but could be improved with more activities.
“It was a nice experience but we missed some more interactive sessions especially when we stopped at a lake inside the park,” she said referring to Lake Momella where the journey ended before returning for lunch.
The bankers were happy almost all the travelling time as they joked by using their banking jargon in dis-cussing and describing animals.At a place called Little Serengeti, zebras, buffaloes and warthogs were found grazing in a plain area. Animals were also scattered but their groupings made the bankers think they looked “strategic”.“It seems they are strategically positioned to mitigate risks. Some animals at the corner can report any suspicious transaction,” says one banker, causing laughter.
The bankers recalled the term risk in the banking industry as extensively discussed in one of the previous sessions.“Risk management is every-where,” another replied. When they came across monkeys one would hear; “they can count up to three. That is their intelligence.” When the bankers came across a giraffe, a discussion emerged in the bus about the value of a giraffe which was standing along the road.
One Tanzanian commented that the animal as one of the national trophies, if killed, can attract a fine of up to $15,000 (Sh32 million). “That’s huge money...you need a loan to pay the fine,” joked one of the Kenyan bankers.
MORE INFO: SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES
The Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania. The park is small but varied with spectacular landscapes in three distinct areas. In the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; the peak of Mount Meru lies on its rim. Ngurdoto Crater in the south east is grassland. The shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the north-east have varying algal colours and are known for their wading birds.