MACIG Connect Series
Stanbic Bank has a presence in 20 African countries and is now opening a branch in Cote d’Ivoire.
Stanbic Bank intends to open its first Cote d’Ivoire branch in July 2017. What is the company’s vision for this specific market?
In line with Standard Bank Group’s digital strategy, we are making a sizeable investment in our banking system infrastructure, and we hope to play a role in the digital transformation of the banking system in Cote d’Ivoire. Initially we will focus on corporate and investment banking, as well as existing clients who already operate in Cote d’Ivoire and the region. Looking ahead in our strategic delivery, we will explore obtaining more local clients and we may also eventually move into retail banking.
What have been the most significant obstacles in bringing the bank into full operation, and conversely, what strategic advantages does the company enjoy?
A fully operational set-up will be implemented in a timeframe of 18 months to two years. We have to get our feet wet first and learn from our mistakes. For example, all of our bank and client documents need to be translated into French, so the language barrier is one of the largest obstacles faced. However, what distinguishes us from our competitors is our African experience and footprint. From coast to coast and north to south, we are in 20 countries across the African continent.
One of the most significant strengths we enjoy in the Cote d’Ivoire economy is the pegging of the currency to the euro. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Mozambique experience volatility in their respective currencies. Here, we have a euro-based economy with a very low interest rate environment, low inflation, and full convertibility with one central bank.
What role will investment coming from China play in the development of the Cote d’Ivoire mining sector?
Chinese companies have pledged to $7.5 billion of investment in Cote d’Ivoire alone. They have signed an agreement to spend this money over the next 10 years. This includes the stadium, the port, some roads, and it is also energy related. This finance will support every sector of activity.
Will the trend towards nationalism that can be observed in many areas around the globe take hold in Cote d’Ivoire in the form of protectionist policies that hinder investment?
The current objective of the government is to rebuild Cote d’Ivoire as quickly as it can. The country went through difficult times, but we are now beginning to see huge improvements. With the government’s efforts to rebuild the country, they are not going to inhibit international investment.
What is the opportunity in the mining sector for an institution such as Stanbic Bank in Cote d’Ivoire’s current financial environment?
Most of the financing will be done in USD, so an international bank will be a necessary facilitator in those transactions. Stanbic Bank will have an advantage over local banks because we are a large, pan-African group with access to multiple international currencies.