South Africa’s Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank in assets, earnings and market capitalisation, will take its safari investment next year in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), where a representative office will open in February 2014 in the commercial capital Abidjan.
This West African nation of 22 million people becomes the 19th African country in which the Johannesburg-based bank has operations.
This signifies a deliberate drive by Standard Bank into the West Francophone Africa region, with the intention of using this office to become familiar with the region and identify opportunities for growth within it, the pan-African bank said in a statement.
Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank Group joint chief executive, said: “As a bank rooted in Africa with a 151- year history, Standard Bank is committed to broadening and deepening its footprint on the continent.
“Our strategy is to be the leading African financial services organisation.”
Ivory Coast, a former Africa’s prosperous economic giant, is still recovering from a deadly post-electoral crisis that tore it apart in 2011.
Though national reconciliation is still a wishful thinking, an easy calm has nevertheless returned and the economy is slowly but surely picking up.
The Standard Bank operations in Ivory Coast will likely create thousands of jobs in this fallen African giant ruined by a decade of armed conflict.
Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, supplying over 40% in the global market.
Despite this precarious calm, Standard Bank has decided to enter this troubled but lucrative market, with the prospect of exploring the whole region.
Standard Bank, which has uplifted many small businesses across Africa, said it has identified the West Africa region as a key growth opportunity.
It has massive potential as it is ideally placed as a hub for the region through its membership in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the bank said.
Hervé Boyer, a French-speaking long standing employee of Standard Bank, has been appointed managing director of the Abidjan representative office.
Photo: Abidjan, the sleepless and bustling commercial capital of Ivory Coast