Kigali — Equity Bank, Kenya's second largest retail bank is expanding to Rwanda and is expected to launch commercially before end of the year, East African Business Week has learnt.
It becomes the second Kenyan retail Bank to expand into Rwanda after Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), which is the largest bank in East Africa.
The Bank is setting up its Rwanda offices and the first branch in the Pension Plaza, the second tallest building in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
Samuel Kirubi, a Kenyan national who was previously working with Equity Bank Kenya has been named the Managing Director for Equity Bank Rwanda. Mr. Kirubi had accepted to speak to East African Business Week but until press time, he was still waiting for approval from Kenya to speak.
Equity Bank joins an increasing banking competition among the present seven commercial banks and three microfinance banks in Rwanda and it automatically adds competition in the market according to Central Bank Governor Mr. Claver Gatete. The Central regulates financial institutions in Rwanda.
"The coming of Equity Bank adds competition. When there is competition there is always improvement in terms of how they perform [Banks]," said Mr. Gatete.
Mr. Gatete said that the coming of Equity Bank increases the banking sector's capacity to extend financial services to the rural areas, which are still less banked. In 2008, a study carried out in Rwanda showed that only 14% of the population aged 18 years and above had bank accounts. The Government plans to increase the number of people with bank accounts to 80% by 2017.