Ghana’s Second-Biggest Bank Sees Stronger Loans Growth in 2021

Ecobank Ghana Ltd., the West African country’s second-biggest lender, said loans growth in 2021 will be stronger than this year, as the pace of economic growth picks up.

“This year was Covid-19, which we didn’t quite understand, but we found ways to work around it,” Edward Botchway, chief financial officer at the Accra-based lender, said in an interview “As we’re able to transition out of Covid-19, as we find ways to live with the virus, or get a vaccine sorted out, the growth path for industries that lost out should come up. Next year has to be better.”

While Botchway declined to give a more detailed forecast, he said lending next year will expand faster than the 0.8% seen in the first nine months of 2019. Since lifting a three-week lockdown of major cities on April 20, Ghana has eased most virus-related restrictions, including a ban on air travel. The International Monetary Fund in October projected the economy will expand 4.2% next year compared with an estimated 0.9% for 2019.

More credit will make its way to the private sector as the government lowers its budget deficit, freeing up banks’ funding, Botchway said.Industries sunk by the coronavirus, such as airlines, hospitality and trade, should rebound, further stoking demand for loans, he said.

Companies in telecommunications, health, pharmaceuticals and small- and medium-sized enterprises that found innovative ways to thrive during the virus will continue to grow, Botchway said.

“Covid-19 disrupted most of our supply routes, so the importing customers were not able to do as much,” he said. “We look forward to high growth in 2021. Money transfers, travels and currency trading should bounce back strongly.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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