StanChart Sees Bigger Revenue Contributions From Africa

(Bloomberg) -- Standard Chartered Plc expects Africa to account for a bigger slice of revenue if the region is able to put in place policies that will further spur economic growth, Chairman Jose Vinals said.

“If they do the right thing, they’ll grow faster than other countries which are more advanced,” he said in an interview in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on Tuesday night. “This will help Africa contribute more to the group, but for that to happen, the future needs to become the present. We are starting to see positive signs.”

The African region accounts for about 10 percent of the London-based lender’s revenue, while Nigeria, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates fall within Standard Chartered’s top 10 markets in terms of operating profit, according to the chairman.

“My hope is that Africa breaks with some of the constraints that have prevented its sustained growth,” Vinals said. “For that, there is a need for policies to strengthen institutions.”

The continent is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies -- with the International Monetary Fund projecting Ethiopia will expand 10.9 percent this year -- although output is often sensitive to changes in commodity prices or hindered by political changes, corruption, burdensome regulations or unclear policies.

The lender is experimenting with a digital-only bank in Ivory Coast, which, if successful, will be replicated in other African markets over the next 12 to 15 months, the chairman said.

“Digital through mobile is something which is fundamental, not just for efficiency and economic progress but also for financial inclusion,” Vinals said.

The bank plans to grow commercial and retail banking in Nigeria, its biggest African market, as well as expand corporate and institutional banking, which constitute the most part of its operations in the country, according to Vinals.

The appointment of former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a director last year is helping draw attention to Nigeria and Africa at the bank, he said.

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