Regional lender Equity Bank has opened a commercial representative office in Ethiopia, as part of plans to set up operations in the horn of Africa nation.
Equity Bank, which resumed plans for Pan African expansion, is keen on economic reforms in Ethiopia witnessed under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia has 18 licensed commercial banks which has increased focus by tier one Kenyan banks to expand into the market.
Equity Bank has appointed Hassan Maalim as the head of the commercial representative office which will be based at Kazanchis-Addis Ababa, and is expected to be fully operational in July this year.
Equity Group chief executive officer James Mwangi said the bank plans to have operations in 10 African countries by the end of the year, with Ethiopia presenting a perfect launch pad for the expansion.
“This will enable the Bank to continue to scale up and unlock economies of scale especially in this era of digitization and virtualization of banking,” Mr Mwangi said of the expansion.
The entry of Equity Bank into Ethiopia, follows the government’s appointment of a privatization commission and the ongoing reforms which are aimed at promoting a growing private sector.
Ethiopia is now ranked as Africa’s fastest growing economy according to data from IMF.
Kenya’s KCB Group has also announced plans to set up operations in Ethiopia.
With the addition of Ethiopia, the Equity Bank will now have operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC.