Rokel Commercial Bank (formerly Barclays Bank) was established in 1917 as Barclays Bank DCO with 100% shares owned by the parent company.
In 1971 it was incorporated locally and renamed Barclays Bank of Sierra Leone Limited with 25% shares owned by Sierra Leoneans and 75% Barclays Bank International. The rationale behind this move was to encourage Sierra Leoneans to participate as owners and develop confidence in the Bank.
Basic banking services (i.e. Savings and Current Accounts, Foreign Exchange, Bills for Collection, Safe Custody etc.) were provided and branches were established across the country. The Bank had a network of 16 branches in various areas of the country at the outbreak of the war in 1992.
As a result of the intensification of the civil war the network was reduced in quick succession leading to one Bank/Branch in April, 1998.
On 17th September 1999, Barclays Bank PLC which was the majority shareholder at the time (60% shares) withdrew from its operations in Sierra Leone after extensive discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone. The Bank after consultations with the Government was renamed Rokel Commercial Bank (Sierra Leone) Limited. The Government of Sierra Leone now holds 51% shares, 49% shares owned by private institutions, organizations and individuals. Following a recent recapitalization, the Government now owns 65%shares and the remaining 35% is owned by private institutions, organizations and individuals.
“Rokel” is the name to the longest river in Sierra Leone and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. This depicts the greatness of the Bank as a gateway to Banking in Sierra Leone.
It thus follows that Rokel River by virtue of its prominence in the country and the bank because of its geographical spread, the Bank has been referred to as the Gateway to Banking in Sierra Leone.
The Bank currently has over three hundred members of staff and is being headed by the 4th Sierra Leonean Managing Director and CEO, Dr. Walton Ekundayo Gilpin. It has a management team of 41 Senior Members of staff