Equity Bank has acquired a license to operate in Ethiopia, a huge achievement for the regional institution. The bank has opened a Representative Office in Addis Ababa as it prepares to start operating in the neighbouring country by July 2019.
The Representative office will be headed by Hassan Maalim, an insider at the banking with extensive knowledge of the financial sector.
Equity Bank’s entry into Ethiopia is a big move for a country that previously guarded its banking sector tightly. Equity bank will benefit from the large unbanked population and the high rate of economic expansion in the country. IMF predicts that Ethiopia’s economy will grow at 7.7 per cent in 2019, the fastest economic growth rate in the East African region. Equity group intends to use digital platforms and virtual banking to reach the millions of Ethiopians who lack access to financial services.
Equity Group CEO Dr. James Mwangi noted that the move into Ethiopia is part of the group’s expansion plan. “Having completed Phase One of our expansion, the entry into Ethiopia is part of our Phase two expansion in pursuit of our aspiration of being a Pan African Bank with presence in 10 African countries by the end of the year,” he said.
Equity Group moved into Zambia and Mozambique in May 2019, through a partnership with Atlas Mara Limited. The lender already has subsidiaries in South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and DR Congo. After the entry into Ethiopia, Equity Group will now have a presence in an area covering more than 500 million residents.