Nigerian bank knocks on Namibian door

22 January 2021 | Banking

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Nigerian lender Access Bank has listed Namibia as one of the 12 countries it is eyeing for more growth.

Access Bank also plans a similar expansion into Angola.

“Access Bank plans to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” CEO Herbert Wigwe said on an investor call earlier this week, Bloomberg reported. Access Bank currently operates in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and the United Kingdom.

The Bank of Namibia says no application has been made for a provisional banking licence.



Diversification

The Nigerian bank, which is looking to transition to a holding company this year, plans to open subsidiaries in insurance brokerage, consumer lending and agency banking as well as payments to boost revenue, Wigwe said. It will also use its London-based unit as an “anchor for growth” to expand representative offices in countries such as India, Lebanon and China, Wigwe said.

The African trade pact aims to bolster intra-regional commerce by lowering or eliminating cross-border tariffs, facilitating the movement of capital and people, promoting investment and paving the way for the establishment of a continent-wide customs union.



Move welcomed

Abdullahi Madobi at the Nigerian High Commission in Windhoek said the move marked a strengthening of relations between Namibia and Nigeria. “Our banks are strong and this is an indication that relations are getting stronger, which is significant. It is a welcome development, coming to Namibia is another step,” Madobi said. IJG Namibia MD designate Eric Van Zyl said it offered more opportunity to consumers. “Competition between businesses is generally good for consumers as it should result in more favourable pricing. From this perspective a new entrant into the market would be a positive development,” Van Zyl said.

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