As part of its plans to expand to at least 10 countries in Africa in the next five years, Equity Bank will be venturing into Tanzania and Rwanda by next year.
This, it hopes, will help it tap into the growing opportunities brought about by the East African Community’s Common Market.
The planned entry into the two countries is part of the bank’s larger plans to to roll out its operations into the Comesa region over the next 10 years.
Although the bank has not disclosed its intended partners in the new markets or details of how it plans to enter these markets, analysts say it might go about it the way it did in Uganda, that is, through acquisitions.
The group acquired Uganda’s Microfinance Ltd in 2008 at a cost of Ksh1.66 billion ($25.3 million).
The deal saw Equity take up 100 per cent of the bank’s share capital. In Sudan, a subsidiary was launched last year.
Besides targeting a huge money transfer market that is coming up in the EAC, the bank has its sights trained on the rural areas in the expanded market especially the youth, women and the agricultural sector.
This is also part of the bank’s strategy to double the number of its accounts in the region in the next 15 months from the current 5.7 million.
According to the bank’s chief executive James Mwangi, the EAC Common Market is expected to open up new investment opportunities in the member-states that will require banking and money services across the region, hence an opportunity for the bank’s planned transactions.
The bank’s venture into Rwanda is informed by the fact that the country was recently recognised as the world’s top nation in adopting business regulation reforms.
“Rwanda’s progressive policies are attracting foreign investments that require banking; that’s why we are headed there. Our success story in Southern Sudan and Uganda gives us the impetus to invest in Rwanda and Tanzania,” explained Mr Mwangi.