Hoima, Uganda — Crane Bank, one of the country's commercial banks, is nearing the completion of its US$16.5million (Shs41billion) expansion phase that will see it close 2012 with 26 branches, up from 15 at the start of the year.
Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, the bank Vice Chairman and majority shareholder, revealed this during the opening of the bank's 23rd branch in Hoima Municipality, Hoima District recently.
"The current expansion is part of the bank's 5 year customer excellence strategy that aims at opening more than 50 branches by 2015," said Sudhir. "Every year, we will be opening a minimum of 10 branches every year till 2015 and this year we are opening 11 branches."
The Hoima Branch is the 8th to be opened this year and the 23rd branch overall with three more branches expected to be opened by end of October 2012 in Soroti, Entebbe and Kisoro.
Speaking at the same function, Mr. Joseph Biribonwa, the bank board chairman said the strategic importance of Hoima ahead of the country's oil and gas windfall was an important factor.
"Hoima has become a strategic town for the present and future economic development of this country and so it was important that we put in place the necessary infrastructure to finance local and international opportunities presented by oil and gas," Biribonwa said.
Commenting about the capacity of local banks to compete with the international larger banks for the various local and international opportunities presented by oil, Sudhir said that oil and gas presented a number of opportunities that required both international and local knowledge and capacity.
"We have also secured long term funding from international lenders such as the European Investment Bank to be able to service the oil supply chain with funding of up to 10 years both in local and international currencies," added Sudhir.