6 July 2014

Ethiopia: Commercial Bank Targets Diaspora With Foreign Market Expansion

As part of its vision 2025, the bank is considering new branches in Washington DC, Dubai, South Africa and Djibouti

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) is in the final stages of research into foreign markets, with the potential of opening branches in Washington DC, Dubai, South Africa and Djibouti.

As part of its vision 2025 to become a world class banker, the representatives of the bank traveled to Washington and South Africa in September, the Middle East in December and Djibouti three months ago, in partnership with the Ethiopian consulate offices in those countries. During this time, they held discussions with the Ethiopian Diaspora there, according to Ephrem Mekuriya, communications manager of the bank.

Washington, South Africa and Dubai have been selected by officials of the bank based on the large number of Ethiopians residing there. Djibouti, where the bank had its first international branch, was selected due to the scale of business transactions with the country as the major gateway to Ethiopia's international trade corridor.

Its oldest international branch in Djibouti opened in the 1950s, was closed in 2004 due to the increasing amount of non-performing loans.

After the closure of Djibouti branch, the CBE has managed to open and run five branches in two major cities, Juba and Malakal - both in South Sudan - since June 2009. Now, however, the bank only has two branches in Juba, closing the others because of conflict in the new country.

According to a World Bank report, 37.5pc of Ethiopia's Diaspora live in the Middle East and Asia, 30.7pc in North America, 21.4pc in Europe and 8.6pc in Africa. The bank's intended expansion to these regions follows rapid expansion at home, where it now has 820 branches.

Its total assets have reached a little more than a quarter of a trillion Birr during the last nine months of 2013/14. This illustrates an increase of close to 30 billion Br from the same period last year. It has managed to mobilise total savings of 182 billion Br from its 7.6 million clients. The bank's clients numbered six million in 2012/13.

The Bank which has 50 forex ATMs in operation, secured a profit before tax of 7.7 billion Br in the same nine month period. Reaching customers through its ever increasing domestic branches.

The bank staff has reached 18,159 employees this year, in addition to the 410 fully operating Automated Teller Machines (ATM). It is also currently processing the installation of an additional 200 ATMs and is currently purchasing that amount of the machines, each costing half a million Birr, including installation, according to Ephrem.

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