29 August 2012

Zambia: Govt's Fiscal, Monetary Reforms Win Accolades

ZAMBIA's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate has outshined most of the world's economies because of the sound fiscal and monetary reforms Government has put in place, Standard Chartered Bank has said.

The positive economic performance has made Zambia one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world.

Standard Chartered Bank regional head of consumer banking for the Middle East and Africa, Raheel Ahmed said Zambia was recognised as one of the countries with a high GDP growth rate, surpassing most of the world's economies.

Addressing the media in Lusaka on Monday evening, Mr Ahmed said it was commendable to see Zambia's growth rate above most of the African countries and making it one of the attractive investment destinations.

"There is a growing middle class and there is also growing urbanisation and multiple sectors of the economy are doing well.

"We commend the monetary and fiscal reforms the Zambian Government has been undertaking. All these combined make the country an attractive market and a very good growth rate to invest in," Mr Ahmed said.

He said: "The country has been transforming very rapidly and as Standard Chartered Bank we are very delighted to be part of this growth."

Mr Ahmed said the bank had played an important role in the development of the country by offering significant and progressive support to the productive sectors of the economy.

As a good example, he said last year the bank grew its loan book to Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) by 230 per cent and as at the end of the first half of this year, the loan book for SMEs in Zambia grew by 40 per cent.

Mr Ahmed said SMEs would remain a key focus area for the bank, adding that the institution was looking forward to working closely with all the relevant stakeholders such as the business community and the Government in supporting the sector.

"At the end of the first half of this year, Standard Chartered Bank remained the most profitable bank in Zambia, recording a profit growth of 61 per cent compared to the same period last year.

"Our organic growth strategy in our chosen markets is clearly yielding positive results despite the increased competition from both international and local banks," he said.

Mr Ahmed said from an African perspective, the bank was increasing its investment on the continent and that the region would remain a key market for the financial institution.

He said the bank had grown its consumer finance by more than 123 per cent aimed at empowering the Zambian people.

The bank had also approved in excess of US$8.3 million of additional investment this year in the distribution network across the region.

Mr Ahmed also said the bank would be opening six more branches in Zambia aimed at expanding its network coverage.

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