Ecobank Malawi says its strategic intent is to become one of the countryâ€™s three largest banks by both assets and branch network.
The bank plans to achieve this through organic growth and acquisitions, Ecobank Malawi managing director Olufemi Salu said in an interview in Lome, Togo, on the sidelines of the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Ecobank Groupâ€™s holding company, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI).
But in a country where roughly 60 percent of the banking market is controlled by its two largest banks, National Bank of Malawi (NBM) and Standard Bank, reaching that goal could be a tall order despite the groupâ€™s ability to achieve this in other countries such as Ghana where it is the top bank.
“It will not be easy. For example, we opened in Ghana in 1990, but we only became number one there in the first quarter of 2012. It takes time. The good thing is that we have capital.
“Already, the group has pumped $5 million [K1.3 billion] into the Malawi operation and will put more capital by the end of this year,” said Salu.
He said the expected new capital injection will be pumped into branch expansion, starting with an extra one in Lilongwe and a new one in Mzuzu. The bank currently has six branches, up from just two when they took over from Loita Bank in 2008.
Salu said the additional capital will also go into the construction of its head office in Lilongwe, which means that Ecobank will move its headquarters from Blantyre to the capital city in a few yearsâ€™ time.
The capital will also help expand its auto-teller machine (ATM) services and increase its point of sell (POS) devices.
Ecobank Malawi acting board chairperson Masauko Msungama said in a separate interview in Lome that the Ecobank footprint across the continent and its strong balance sheet will help achieve the local bankâ€™s strategic goal of being among the top three in the next five years.
He urged Malawian businesses to take advantage of Ecobankâ€™s heavy presence in most African countries to expand their business interests and dealings throughout the continent by banking with it.
Msungama, who is also managing partner of legal firm Beal, Dalken and Associates, added that the Ecobank Malawi board appreciates the support it receives from local authorities such as the Reserve Bank of Malawi in its efforts to deepen financial intermediation and support economic growth and development.