Kenya’s Equity Bank is looking to enter Tanzania or Rwanda by early next year and may consider an acquisition if it finds an appropriate target, a senior executive said on Monday.
Kenya’s biggest lender by market value is also looking to double the number of its accounts in the next 15 months as it targets remote areas where many residents are still without bank accounts, Samuel Makome, Equity Bank’s general manager of risk management told Reuters in an interview.
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, are members of the East African Community, which launched a common market among its members this year to promote economic integration.
Equity Bank already has a presence in Uganda, with 43 branches, but has yet to make a play in Tanzania or Rwanda.
“The bank is looking towards further expansion. We are eyeing Tanzania. We are eyeing Rwanda,” Makome said on the sidelines of an investor conference in Johannesburg.
The Kenyan bank could enter at least one of those markets as early as the first quarter of 2011, he said, adding it could potentially make an acquisition of a local player.
“We would not fail to do an acquisition if we found a target in somebody we could talk to. But we are not saying we would have to do an acquisition.”
Equity Bank, founded 25 years ago as a building society, has expanded by targeting customers without bank accounts.
The bank, which is about 25 percent owned by Africa-focused investment fund Helios Investment Partners, has a tie-up with Kenyan mobile-phone operator Safaricom, offering a phone-based banking service.
The M-Kesho service allows customers in rural areas, who may not have ready access to a branch, to access Equity’s banking products.