Togolese lender Ecobank Transnational Incorporated is set to expand to South Sudan, Mozambique, Angola and Mozambique to deepen its presence in the African financial services market.
Mr Lawson Kolapo, Ecobank group chairman, said the West African bank has identified strong growth prospects in those markets which it wants to tap into. “We are tapping into the growing demand and potential of banking services in these markets,” he said.
The financial institution’s strategy is to have a presence in most countries on the continent to fulfill its Pan African goal of being the leading financial institution in Africa.
The bank secured shareholders’ approval at the annual general meeting in Togo last week to replace the “Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS)” in the article of association with “Pan African” in order to ensure that the bank is not influenced by any institution or dominated by one country.
The bank currently operates in 33 countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Liberia, among others.
The bank has been pursuing an aggressive expansion programme in the past six years, entering in new markets, a scenario that has seen its cost-to-income ratio increase to72.04 per cent last year, from 69.60 per cent in 2011.
The group chief executive officer, Mr Thierry Tanoh, however, said when the subsidiaries begin to make positive financial contribution to the group, the cost-to-income ratio will reduce.
Ecobank ventured into the Ugandan market in 2008 and has 12 branches in the country.
The Ecobank Uganda managing director, Mr Michael Monari, said three more branches in Mbarara, Jinja, Arua and Gulu will be opened this year to grow its customer base and mobilise more cheap deposits from businesses and individual customers.
The group posted a 25 per cent year-on-year net profit growth last year, rising to $249.7 million from $206.8 million the previous year. Mr Kolapo attributed the growth to prudent cost control coupled with the bank’s lending and risk management policies.