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CBWAS: Google Workplace to power work transformation during a crisis

By Eliizabeth Akinyi | 24 September 2020

Our impact

The Central Bank of West Africa States successfully rolls out Google Workplace (formally G Suite) in seven days for over a thousand employees located across eight different countries without interrupting service or productivity. The result? Increasing customer and employee satisfaction with a more connected but remote workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.

During a global pandemic where working from home seems inevitable, it remains critical for companies to have efficient remote communication and collaboration platforms. Founded in 1962, the Central Bank of West Africa States is a dominant player in Banking, with eight member States in the Monetary Union: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. In addition to centralizing the cash reserves of the Union, the main mandates of the Central Bank are: to issue currency, to manage monetary policy, to organize and monitor banking activities, and to provide assistance for the West African Monetary Union member States.

The challenge

Power immediate transformation during a global crisis

In March 2020, Senegal government’s National Emergency Response Committee announced recommendations for people to work from home in an attempt to flatten the coronavirus curve. The Central Bank of West Africa States responded with an immediate digital transformation that would bring interactions between employees and customers closer to their more intuitive digital experiences remotely. Even more importantly, the bank needed greater support for working off-site, including finding ways to replace in-person and telephone meetings with simple, reliable video conferencing.

Having Google Workplace (formally G Suite) means that they would have a powerful platform that not only includes corporate email, but also multiple enterprise tools that work as a foundation for innovation, driving collaboration and improving the productivity of their teams without any compromise on their key pillar - Security and Trust.

Migrating to Google Workplace would also eliminate the technical burden of maintaining the servers used to support the bank’s previous environment. This change not only reduced a recurring monthly spend of 60% on hardware but would also allow the Central Bank to reallocate headcount it had assigned to system maintenance and support calls.

The process

Transformation culture and remote working transition

Backed by the full support of management, the Chief Information Officer, Mr. Tiéguélé A. COULIBALY, and his team signed off the move to migrate CBWAS to Google Workplace. They were concerned about the technical aspects of the full-company migration and had assembled a careful go-live plan and a cross-site team to handle any problems.

Due to the scale, complexity and limited time at hand, the bank chose to work with the Google Premier Partner- Incentro Africa in collaboration with the Africa Google Cloud Distributor Digicloud Africa. Incentro's key focus was to ensure the bank was able to migrate in the shortest time possible for all their workforce and quickly facilitate the set up of access to documents on shared drives.

A seamless, no-downtime migration was successfully completed and a global go-live achieved within a week for all the 1300 employees to G Suite Enterprise.

"G Suite has given Central Bank of West African States employees a “different way to work. Remote workers now have expanded and highly efficient ways of accessing and collaborating on the go. We’ve saved 40% on total per-user cost, reduced IT hours spent maintaining our environment, have had 60% fewer email related tickets, complied with our Industry’s data protection regulations, and on top of that we’ve had no downtime in the last 6 months"- Tiéguélé A. COULIBALY,Chief Information Officer, Central Bank of West Africa States.

The Results

Seamless migration to G Suite

  • Migration of employees to G Suite Enterprise in one week without interrupting service or employee productivity, something that before the pandemic would have been seen as unachievable.
  • Deliver transformation – and entrench the core value of innovation– by providing productivity and collaboration tools to 1300 employees in eight African countries.
  • Increased customer and employee satisfaction with a more connected but remote workforce.
  • Drive business continuity during a pandemic through efficient remote working tools.
  • Delivers high reliable uptime to enhance productivity and collaboration
  • 99% Adoption on Gmail and 87% on Drive within one week of Go-Live.

Employees now regularly use Google Chat and Google Meet to connect, and they frequently collaborate in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, often across remote sites that need to collect and present their combined data.

The bank also wanted to use scripts to accelerate and automate workflows that incorporated its productivity applications. Furthermore, Apps Script enabled the bank's developers to perform tasks including building add-ons for G Suite products such as Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Forms; writing custom functions for Sheets; publishing web apps embedded in Google Sites; and interacting with services such as AdSense, Analytics, Calendar, Drive and Gmail

Adoption for core G Suite services have remained above an average of 70% for the last three months; a key success metric for Incentro and the customer’s ROI. G Suite has without doubt improved the frequency of collaboration between the bank’s offices in eight different countries in West Africa.

In the long run

A cloud journey began, with greater collaboration

The benefits of G Suite to The Central Bank are not limited to specific use cases. With security being at the core of the implementation, the bank is in control of the environment through a centralized dashboard and reporting that ensures timely response to incidents for a highly regulated industry.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, perhaps best of all, with an objective to ease business processes and enhance customer experience, one of the biggest benefits has been freeing up the team from repetitive IT admin tasks such as onboarding new employees. With the time the team has won back, it can now focus on high-value projects that will help drive the business forward. The CIO and his team are keeping a close eye on new tools that may enhance automation and link tasks and activities together. G Suite is very much in its direction and a key enabler of the bank’s modernization program. “Central Bank did something previously unthinkable and in doing so, accomplished a digital transformation in a previously unimagined timeframe. They have set the gold standard for business leadership in a time of adversity and change.” - Gregory Maclennan, CEO Digicloud Africa


The bank has observed that after the implementation of G Suite, team members have become more engaged with their work and show greater willingness to share their ideas remotely.

“It is amazing to see that the abilities of something sometimes seem so ordinary to us at times, can make such a powerful impact. Being able to work from anywhere has not always been a priority, but is now essential for businesses. With a unique collaboration between the Central Bank, Google, Digicloud Africa, and Incentro we’ve been able to achieve the unthinkable in record time. Making the impossible possible.” - Dennis de Weerd, CEO Incentro Africa.

In the near future

As a regulator of Banks in the West African states, CBWAS, provides an E-learning platform with contents that enable employees of member states banks to complete learning modules online that help them perform their roles effectively and to pass exams set by the bank. G Suite using Google Classroom and sites will provide a platform for building this curriculum at no additional infrastructure, hosting or license expenses. “A great experience partnering with Incentro. No task too big or too small for this team. They have proven that with the right leadership and a great Change Management Plan you can transform a business in a week, even a bank.” - Nick Treurnicht, Professional Collaboration Engineer, Digicloud Africa.


With workflows powered by G Suite and Apps Script well established within the bank, the institution is planning to invest in Google Cloud Platform services. Big Query is also in the process of evaluation and approval as the next tool for predictive real time analytics to help them gain insights easily and create stunning reports and dashboards using popular business intelligence tools, out of the box. The bank’s IT team also received training on Google Data Studio to create dashboards that enable it to visualize critical information.

“A technology rollout of this scale can be extremely difficult, but this was one of the smoothest change implementations I have worked on due to the successful collaboration with the Central Bank team and Digicloud Africa” - Elizabeth Akinyi, Professional Collaboration Engineer, Incentro Africa.

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