Ecobank Malawi says it is committed to boosting Malawiâ€™s trade, especially exports, and is in talks with local authorities to expand its current intermediation levels in this area.
Olufemi Salu, Ecobank Malawi managing director, said this 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).
He said Ecobank Malawi is concerned that most of countryâ€™s participation in intra-regional trade is more in-ward than outward, which means the country is not exporting enough.
Salu said since the Ecobank Groupâ€™s original goal is to support Africaâ€™s growth and development; it leverages its heavy presence on the continent to promote integration and intra-Africa trade.
â€œIn Malawi, for example, there are more Zambian goods entering Malawi than Malawian goods entering Zambia. Ecobank Malawi wants to help balance that up. We have submitted our proposal to the Reserve Bank of Malawi [RBM] on how we think we can help achieve this.
â€œWe have also identified companies that have businesses in both Malawi and Zambia. Since we also have a presence in Zambia, it is becoming easier to support these companies in financing the movement of their goods and services between the two countries,â€ said Salu.
He said the bank is focussing on intra-regional trade because it can easily leverage its strong operations across the region and other parts of Africa for competitive advantage.
Cross-listed in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote dâ€™Ivoire, the pan-African banking group has a presence in 32 African countries, including Malawi.
Ecobank came to Malawi after buying Loita Bank in February 2008, a move that is in line with the groupâ€™s business model of building scale through organic growth and acquisitions while growing its businesses in existing markets and expanding into new ones.
As a subsidiary of ETI, which is Ecobank Groupâ€™s parent company, Ecobank Malawi benefits from the motherâ€™s pan-African network of 1 151 branches spanning the breadth of the continent and its international operations in London (United Kingdom), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Paris (France).
Ecobank Malawi also taps from its parentâ€™s â€œOne Bankâ€ integrated information technology (IT) platform that puts it in a strong position to support local businesses trading with other Africans.
ETI deputy group chief executive officer Albert Essien said at a press conference in Lome that intra-Africa trade has improved over the years to around 11 percent from roughly eight percent due to the support of financial institutions such as Ecobank.
Asked how the bank is responding to the current tough macroeconomic environment in Malawi, Salu said Ecobank has confidence in the resilience of the Malawian economy and its ability to rebound.
â€œWe are in every country for the long haul. We know that every country will have ups and downs. Granted, Malawi is going through problems right now, but they are surmountable,â€ said Salu.