The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Banking Sector Registers Growth Despite Global Shocks

The country's banking sector recorded massive growth in the first nine months of this year in spite of persistent global shocks, mainly in the euro zone, that have particularly hit imports and exports.

In terms of lending within that period, banks surpassed the whole of last year exceeding it by Rwf 28 billion, an indication central bank says is a positive outlook for the economy.

"When I look at the consolidated balance sheet of the banks, to a great extent, I would say the banks are performing well and to a lesser extent, I would say the banks have been affected by the global crisis," Jack Nkusi Kayonga, the Chairperson of Rwanda Bankers' Association told Business Times.

The banking sector total assets increased to Rwf 1,207.8 billion in June this year, up from Rwf1, 084.2 billion in December last year, representing a growth of 11.4 per cent as a result of the increase in the balance sheet driven by a rapid increase of deposits and loans during the first half of the year.

"The banking system is becoming more and more mature and is increasing and contributing to the service sector which is a big component of the economy," Claver Gatete, Governor, National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) said.

In fact, total loans increased by 20 per cent to Rwf 757.1 billion by the end of June 2012 up from RWF 631.2 billion in December 2011 with deposits growing by 12.8 per cent from RWF 716.5 billion in December 2011 to RWF 808.4 billion end June 2012.

Experts say that the sector's good performance is as a result of strengthened legal and supervisory framework as well as a good macroeconomic environment.

"Considering the outlook of persistently higher global inflationary pressures, there is need to continue tightening the monetary policy in their fourth quarter of 2012 as risks of exogenous shocks remain," he said

Gatete said that the central bank is looking at building a first class financial system, which has pushed the bank to shift from classical to a more technological one.

"We have built a structure from the top where we have big banks, microfinance banks, MFIs and the SACCOs and these ones can reach any part of the country," he said

Moreover, with newer instruments of payments such as agency banking and Automated Teller Machines- ATMs), the banks are yet to play a significant role in bringing every Rwandan into the banking system.

"This is reflected in the numbers that are changing in the landscape of Rwanda where the financial inclusion has doubled with the financially excluded moving down from 52.4 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent in 2012," he noted.

Government targets to have at least 80 per cent of its population bankable by 2017.

Gatete noted that the sector's financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has increased this year, projecting an optimistic picture that the sector can access finance to boost its growth needed to create jobs and spur the economy.

"We have taken it as a priority to see that much of our loan portfolio goes to SMEs and most of these are benefiting from our unique products targeting small enterprises," Rao G Balivada, Managing Director, Fina Bank Rwanda, observed.

By the end of June 2012, total outstanding liquidity resulting from mopping up operations amounted to Rwf215 billion, compared to Rwf160.8 billion by the end December 2012 with treasury bills accounting for 53.3 per cent against 46.6 per cent of Repos.

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