Egypt’s largest private-sector listed bank, the Commercial International Bank (CIB), is gearing up to bolster trade relations with East Africa, with Kenya serving as its launch pad into the Sub-Saharan region.
- In January 2023, CIB Group finalized the acquisition of Mayfair CIB Bank Limited in Kenya, obtaining full ownership after regulatory approval.
- Since then, CIB has strengthened the Kenya unit, turning it profitable and expanding its branch network.
- Trade data reveals a steady increase in trade volume between Egypt and Kenya, reaching $663.6 million in 2022.
Key imports from Kenya to Egypt include coffee and tea, while Egypt exports paper, plastics, and sugar products to Kenya. Egypt is the second largest importer of Kenyan tea valued at US$243.38 Million during 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
“Politically, there has been alot more integration with Africa. East Africa makes perfect sense because of its proximity and Kenya is the gateway to East Africa,” Hussein Abaza, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of CIB, said in an interview with The Kenyan Wall Street in Cairo.
CIB Group, with total assets valued at more than $26.8 billion, aims to leverage its robust financial position and banking expertise to facilitate trade between the two countries. The bank plans to enhance its presence in Kenya by establishing smaller branches in Nairobi and Mombasa while leveraging digital channels to offer banking services.
Common Dollar Crisis
Both Egypt and Kenya are grappling with a shortage of US dollars, which has heightened inflationary pressures and strained their economies. To mitigate these challenges, both countries are exploring alternative trade arrangements, such as barter systems, to sustain vital trade relationships.
“Egypt is a big market. With the number of bilateral and multilateral agreements that we have, we should open our economy more to neighboring African markets,” says Egypt’s Deputy Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, Ibrahim Ashmawy, noting that the country is committed expanding trade with Kenya.