Standard Bank targets Senegal as part of expansion into Francophone West Africa

In its quest for expansion into Francophone countries in West Africa, Standard Bank Group Ltd. is looking to obtain a banking license in Senegal under the timeline of 12 to 18 months.

The lender’s chief executive officer for Africa, Sola David-Borha, told Bloomberg in an interview that the Johannesburg-based company plans to concentrate on corporate, investment-banking clients in Senegal.

“We’re going to follow our clients. It’s mainly going to be driven by our clients’ needs and our clients’ demands and we’ll go to where our clients take us,” Standard Bank group CEO Sim Tshabalala told Bloomberg in the same interview.

Standard bank is not just one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups, but also Africa’s biggest lender. It operates in 20 countries across Africa and other key markets around the world.

In 2007, the lender started expanding operations into West Africa when it acquired controlling interest in IBTC Chartered Bank founded by the merger of the International Banking & Trust Co. plc and Chartered Bank plc. This gave subsidiary Stanbic IBTC Holdings significant presence in the Nigerian market, the biggest economy on the continent.

The banking conglomerate’s entry into Francophone West Africa was through Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer. It became one of the African countries to house a Standard Bank subsidiary.

“Francophone West Africa is increasingly becoming important as a vector of growth on the African continent,” Tshabalala revealed.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF ), Ivory Coast’s economy witnessed a 7.8 percent expansion in 2017, which was attributed to its public spending. Senegal’s growth of 6.8 percent in 2017 will see it maintain an expansion rate of about 7 percent until 2022.

David-Borha said Standard Bank also seeks to obtain a license for Ethiopia where it has a representative office.