The Monitor (Kampala)

2 September 2010

Uganda: Banks Need Allies to Penetrate Rural Areas, Says Alabi

Commercial banks in Africa need to collaborate in order to thrive and deliver financial services to the unbanked people, the head of Ecobank has said.

"The future of banking lies in the strength of alliances. Strategic alliances are necessary to service rural Africa," Mr Dele Alabi, the managing director of Ecobank Uganda, told the media in Kampala on Tuesday.

As an example, he said Ecobank which started operations in Uganda last year has partnered with some "reputable" banks and nongovernmental organisations in the country to serve people in areas where it does not have a footprint.

Mr Alabi was tight-lipped on disclosing the strategic partners citing business confidentiality.

However, earlier this year the bank partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish the first bank branch in Amuru District in northern Uganda.

Through the deal, USAID accepted to provide Ecobank a grant of $ 247,000 (Shs555 million).

At least 7,000 farmers in Amuru District are expected to benefit from agricultural financing services provided by Ecobank through the branch.

Prior to the 2010 World Cup, the bank also announced that it had partnered with Nedbank of South Africa to allow its customers access their money through the partner's Automated Teller Machines in South Africa and vice versa.

In Uganda, banks like United Bank for Africa, Stanbic Bank, Dfcu and Post Bank have recently tied knots with telecommunication companies like; MTN and Uganda Telecom, to offer money transfer services in Uganda.

Mr Alabi said partnerships enable institutions to broaden their delivery of service to more customers.

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