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News: CBE resumes banking services in three Tigray cities, but access to savings, cash withdrawal off limit

CBE Alamata Branch in Southern Tigray regional state. Photo: Social Media

Addis Abeba – Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) said it has reopened branches and resumed banking services in Shire, Alamata and Korem, allowing people to deposit money and receive funds sent to them including from abroad.

The bank announced on its facebook on Tuesday that it was forced to discontinue providing banking services for the past two years due the prevailed conflict in the northern part of the country. 

Following the recent peace pact, the bank stated the branches located in Shire, in Northwest Tigray, as well as Alamata and Korum cities in southern Tigray regional state, have resumed services and customers can now receive remittances and deposit their money. However people still cannot access their previous savings.

The state giant said its was was forced to stop the banking services that it was providing in Tigray due to the “instability in the northern part of our country.” But now, following the recent peace agreement, “we are pleased to announce that our branches located in Shire, Alamata and Korum cities have started accepting remittances and depositing money from abroad,” it said, stating that access to savings and cash withdrawals were not part of the announcement.

The Bank further said it will be expanding its services “at all branches as conditions permit, but gave no details if the said expansion will be be for accepting remittances and depositing money from abroad or full banking services.

A resident who preferred to be anonymous told the BBC that he visited the CBE Shire branch to withdraw money from his own account as soon as he heard the news of reopening of the branch, and he was told he cannot be given any money as money hasn’t arrived yet. 

“People felt happy reopening of the bank but they are turning back with despair when they are heard that they cannot access their money,” he said.

Another resident of the town who similarly visited the bank upon hearing the reopening of the bank said, “the employees opened the bank because they were told to open it. They told me that there is no money, and I can be given a certain amount just between 2,000 and 3,000 Birr, if I have money sent to me.”

Until the publishing of this news, the Bank didn’t say why people cannot access their savings yet, but promised it will continue its efforts to serve customers by expanding its services in those branches that have started and launching services in all of its branches in the region as conditions allow.

In November, CBE announced that it had restored banking services in seven of its branches located in Western Tigray, which is currently under the occupation of the Amhara Regional state. The Bank’s branches in Maikadra, Humera, Kafta, Aurora, Dansha, Adi Remits and Ketema Nigus which were operated under Shire banking district before the war broke our in November 2020, are now now providing services under the CBE’s Gonder banking district. AS

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