There was a two per cent increase in all deposit banking accounts in the first half of this year, according to the Monetary and Financial Statement released by the Central Bank of Rwanda on Monday.
But for Ecobank, which has operated in the country since 2007, the number of depositors has grown eight per cent between December 2007 and June 2008, says Peace Uwase, the bank’s financial controller.
“Depositors have confidence in the bank,” she said, adding that the bank’s growth means there is more stability in the industry. “People are more certain of the bank’s presence.”
She also said growth in banking has been boosted by Rwanda’s economy.
“The increase in the depositors is due to the growth of the economy, specifically growth in the agricultural sector and new industrialists from outside investing here,” she said, noting the new investors are making use of the banks.
The statement, which National Bank of Rwanda Governor Francois Kanimba presented at the Serena Hotel in Kigali, stated that the number of deposit accounts rose from 751,142 at the end of December 2007 to 765,945 at the end of June 2008. This represents roughly 17 per cent of adult population.
If this trend continues, banks expect an increase in lending capital, said Kenneth Agaba, Executive Director of Fina Bank.
The increase in depositors means, “many people are getting educated about banks,” Agaba said. “We have an opportunity to expand as a bank by having more funds to lend out to more people.”
In his statement, Kanimba also said that Rwanda’s banking sector continues to grow, with three bank branches opened and a new Kenyan bank receiving a license in the first half of 2008.
“There is quite intense competition,” Kanimba said.
He explained that banking restructuring “accelerated” with a number of banks acquiring significant shares in other financial institutions.
For example, Nigeria’s Access Bank bought a 75 per cent share in Bancor and Bio, Africinvest and Shore Capital together acquired 40 per cent of Cogebanque.
In addition, Banque Populaire Network, recently a cooperative bank, was elevated to the status of a commercial bank with Rabobank holding 35 per cent of its share capital, the monetary statement said.
BNR has also been recapitalized after African Development Corporation, acquired 25 per cent of its share capital.
After two months of commercial bank status, Bank Populaire du Rwanda [BPR], “has dramatically increased the number of bank branches offering a complete range of financial services to the population,” Kanimba said, noting there are currently 18 large branches, 111 sub branches “as well as an increasing number of point of sale over the country.”
The Bank of Kigali is still being restructured, as the “privatization process is still underway,” Kanimba said in the statement. “Barclays Bank has completed due diligence, we are waiting for its technical and financial offer.”
Kanimba said in his statement that legal reforms focusing on licensing, corporate governance and risk concentration have been updated and are in the process of being implemented in order to “raise the bar to international banking standards.”