I use "heading" specifically to provoke a debate, because let's face it: with the acceptance of Rwanda and Burundi into the East African Community, that is getting very ambitious on harmonising regional policies, it will not be long before ECOBANK, the indigenous West African regional banking group (with support from ECOWAS) will start eyeing that region.
After all, ECOBANK is not just in the ECOWAS region these days, but has comprehensively taken over the CEMAC one that comprises: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Here is the quotation from ECOBANK's Arnold Ekpe:
Our strategy is to be a pan-African bank and to continue to grow. We plan to add five other countries in 2007 and therefore we will be operating in 21 countries. In the coming years, our growth will be in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Central Africa is becoming very important in the continent because of its huge natural resources, such as the oil and gas in Chad, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Angola, DRC and Gabon. Our objective, as part of this expansion, is to be the leading bank in "Middle Africa", the area between North Africa and South Africa where we think we have a competitive advantage.
Either way, it's important for one to get that information on ECOBANK and Rwanda, which you can read here. In French, one reads:
En acquérant 90% des parts de la Banque de commerce, de développement et d'indsutrie [sic] du Rwanda (BDCI), le groupe ECOBANK étend sa présence en Afrique de l'Est.
Selon un communiqué de presse rendu public jeudi à Ouagadougou, l'installation de ECOBANK au Rwanda s'inscrit en droite ligne de la stratégie d'ensemble visant à mener des opérations en Afrique de l'Est.
Le Directeur général du Groupe bancaire, Arnold Ekpe, a assuré que ECOBANK Transnational Incorporated (ETI), la maison-mère du Groupe ECOBANK, va recapitaliser et repositionner la BCDI selon son modèle commercial "qui a déjà fait ses preuves".
The long and the short is that in acquiring 90% stake of the Bank of Commerce, Development and Industry (BCDI) of Rwanda, the ECOBANK Group is spreading its presence in East Africa.
The article maintains that according to a press release, the establishment of ECOBANK in Rwanda reflects the strategy of ECOBANK for that region...
It must be prefaced that the article beforehand is about ECOBANK in the Central African Republic, which is also part of the CEMAC region.