Standard Bank Group is seeking a banking license in Senegal after opening in Ivory Coast as the lender expands in West Africa’s French-speaking countries.
Africa’s largest lender, which opened in the world’s biggest cocoa producer on Monday, will focus on corporate and investment-banking clients after obtaining the license in 2016, Sola David-Borha, the Johannesburg-based company’s chief executive officer for Africa, said in an interview in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Standard Bank sees Ivory Coast as an entry point for Francophone West Africa and will target to have all the necessary permits for Senegal in 12 to 18 months, she said.
The economy of Ivory Coast, the biggest among the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, expanded at 7.8 percent last year after an average of nine percent per year since 2012, boosted by public spending.
After growth of 6.8 percent in 2017, Senegal will maintain an expansion rate of about seven percent until 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Other countries in the bloc include Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Togo.
“Francophone West Africa is increasingly becoming important as a vector of growth on the African continent,” Standard Bank group CEO Sim Tshabalala said in the same interview.
“We’re going to follow our clients. It’s mainly going to be driven by our clients’ needs and our clients’ demands and we’ll go to where our clients take us,” he said.
Standard Bank, which operates in 20 African countries, also wants to obtain a license for Ethiopia where it has a representative office, said David-Borha.
African countries outside South Africa contributed 28 percent to Standard Bank’s net revenue in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.