Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) outgoing group chief executive officer (CEO) Arnold Ekpe and other bank officials on Thursday met President Joyce Banda at Chikoko Bay, a lakeshore presidential palace in Monkey Bay, Mangochi.
At the meeting, Ekpe was accompanied by ETIâ€™s deputy group CEO Evelyn Tall, head of strategy David Lawson and Ecobank Malawi managing director Olufemi Salu.
ETI is Ecobankâ€™s Group holding company headquartered in Lome, Togo.
The team except Salu arrived in Malawi on an Ecobank corporate jet through Chileka Airport in Blantyre at 10am and after taking questions from the press, the trio, accompanied by Salu, boarded a chartered plane to Mangochi and landed at Club Makokola airstrip just after 11am.
The four were received by officials from the State House and were driven on a four-vehicle convoy to Chikoko Bay, some 50 kilometres from the Club Makokola.
At exactly 12pm, they arrived at the presidential palace and were immediately whisked in and held talks in camera with President Banda for close to two hours.
Ekpe told reporters in Blantyre later in the evening that they discussed, with President Banda on how the bank can partner with the Malawi Government.
He said they agreed in principle to introduce projects that would help foster development in the country in areas of education and health, among others.
After their meeting with the Banda, the Ecobank officials had lunch before being driven out of the palace to Chikoko Bay airstrip, some two kilometres from the presidential villa, where a chartered plane was waiting for them.
They flew to Blantyre where they addressed a news conference.
Ekpe told reporters that its subsidiary, Ecobank Malawi Limited, will engage in recapitalisation or any other business means in its efforts to claim the top three slot of the countryâ€™s banking industry.
He said the $18 billion pan-African bank group would ensure that it reaches the unbanked in the country. A Finscope Malawi Survey in 2008 found that 19 percent of Malawian adults (18+) have either direct or indirect access to a bank account.
Ecobank is already a leading bank in Ghana, Nigeria and Togo in Africa and its presence in other countries such as Europe, Asia and Middle East has also seen it grow.
He said with nine million customers in the Sub-Saharan region, prospects are high that the future of the banking industry in Africa is bright.
â€œThe bank dominates the banking industry in other African countries and doing the same in Malawi would not be a problem. We are prepared to do whatever we can to be a market leader,â€ said Ekpe.
In his remarks, Salu said the bank in Malawi will open more branches by the end of the year to increase their client base.
â€œWe will open a branch in Mzuzu. We also intend to have more ATMs [Automated Teller Machines],â€ he said, adding that more investments will follow that will attract customers.
Salu said in 2011, the bank sailed through troubled times economically, but will pump in more financial resources to add value to their services.
On Friday, the team flew to Lilongwe where they met Finance Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga and Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) governor Charles Chuka.
Ekpe, who retires from Ecobank group at the end of the year, will be replaced by Thierry Tanoh, a former International Finance Corporationâ€™s (IFC) vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Western Europe.