Ecobank sets aside $5m for retooling businesses

Happiness Zengeni in DAR es SALAAM, Tanzania
Ecobank Zimbabwe says it has just drawn down the second tranche of the $15 million line of credit mobilised by its parent company. Managing director Daniel Sackey said that the group had drawn down $5 million, a week ago targeted at clients who are looking to retool. “The lines will be for clients who are looking to retool their business, improve their infrastructure and help them compete.

“What’s key for Zimbabwe at the moment is competitiveness. Most of the industries haven’t retooled for quite some time so we’re not able to produce at a lower cost and compete with other products that are coming in from other countries,” he said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s Annual General Meeting in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

Sackey said that the lines have a longer tenure of around three years at ‘reasonable interest rates’ After opening 15 branches in the country, Sackey said any expansion going forward will be based on a specific need.

“We’re pretty much there in terms of our physical expansions plans. We’re now focused on improving our distribution channels electronically,” he said.

He added that the bank had already signed an agreement with Mastercard while an agreement to be a Visa issuer was being finalised.

“What we want to bring is more choice, more diversity, better security. Clients will have a choice of the service they want.

“We’ll offer the pan-African Ecobank card for the mass market while the Mastercard and Visa will be for the middle and affluent markets,” Sackey said.

In terms of operations, Sackey said the bank was operating within budget while costs were being strictly monitored although adding that the best way around them was to efficiently deploy technology.

Outgoing group CEO Albert Essien said that the group was moving quickly to deploy e-banking in Southern Africa as “Sadc is quite advanced in that area”.

Southern Africa (made up of six countries) registered a 26 percent increase in pre-tax profits to $15.7 million because of higher revenues of $102 million coupled with a first time contribution from Mozambique.

Southern Africa comprises subsidiaries in Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and a representative office in Angola which will now be upgraded to a fully fledged operation.

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