As a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, BICICI (La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Côte d’Ivoire) taps into France’s widest multinational banking network, importing that expertise to Côte d’Ivoire where it stands among the most developed domestic financial institutions. Managing Director Jean-Louis Menann-Kouame of BICICI explains more about Ivorian banking growth.
How fast is finance growing in Côte d’Ivoire?
The Ivorian banking sector has, according to Fitch, witnessed steadily rising financial inclusion and credit grew 22% in 2014, or over twice the average growth rate of the real economy. Its clear the sector has benefited from strong macroeconomic policies. Naturally, as the country grows, so must banking. This is why we have recently increased our capital base, boosting our liquidity and ability to lend. Because we’re a universal bank, BICICI must be prepared to offer a full range of services amid a maturing financial backdrop, such as what we are observing in Côte d’Ivoire today.
How do you benefit from BNP Paribas’s network?
Because we are backed by BNP Paribas, our local expertise is supported by global reach and broad financial strength. This is particularly useful when it comes to serving the raft of Chinese businessmen coming to Cote d’Ivoire. Chinese investors tend to be very discerning, and they appreciate the ability to diversify their banking service providers using the BNP Paribas global footprint, which has a strong presence in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and elsewhere in China. Together, we offer our group’s understanding of the Chinese way of doing business, which is linked to our deep local knowledge of the Ivorian and West African market.
Can import-export flows be managed in RMB?
Yes. BNP Paribas has a facility, run from its Paris headquarters, which enables Chinese clients to work globally in RMB. With our “One Bank” concept, global clients are offered seamless, quality service in each country and across each region.
Are there any unique services like that in Côte d’Ivoire?
BICICI has a trade center that belongs to a network of over 100 locations (including China) within the BNP Paribas Group, which allows for the smooth handling of international trade operations. This is a valuable service, as it is not the case with other banks in Côte d’Ivoire.
In addition to international trade, what is your ability to support local operations?
BICICI has a large portfolio of services and products to support local operations, including property leasing, cash management, factoring transactions and much more.
What is your capacity to accomodate corporate clientes in the sub-region ?
A Chinese corporation, for example, that would like to use Abidjan as their base to expand in the region would be served under the same conditions available in Côte d’ivoire. Also, BICICI has a presence in Mali, Senegal, Guinea and Burkina Faso, making the extension of our services to these nations seamless.
How do you perceive Chinese investment in Africa?
Africa is in a major construction mode. Though France and the UK have been in Africa for more than a century, they don’t have the desire, neither the capacity, to address all the construction needs of Africa. Chinese investors have noticed this gap and entered in increasing number to provide structural investments. President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank, in his famous “high five” model, has named agriculture, electricity, infrastructure, regional integration and improved living standards as priorities in Africa. China has well understood this model, and their investments reflect this.