Finance / Morocco

“Sub-Saharan is the new frontier”

What is your assessment of the health of the Moroccan banking sector?
There is a general consensus on the soundness of Moroccan financial infrastructures. The banking sector in our country adequately fulfills its role of financing the economy, providing assistance to structural projects and supporting businesses.
The past decade saw a threefold increase in the banks’ combined balance while their equity quadrupled. Credit to the economy surged by 225%. The net banking income doubled while the net loss ratio dropped by 74%. Lastly, the branch network density increased throughout the country to cater for a 55% bank account ownership rate, up from 24% in 2002.

What would you tell Gulf country investors setting their sights on the African continent?
Full of opportunities yet to be exploited, Sub-Saharan Africa is the «new frontier». The expected doubling of the African population by 2050, with consumption patterns reaching maturity, opens up growth prospects on an unprecedented scale. For ten years Sub-Saharan Africa has been growing at an annual rate of +5.5%, versus +3.7% for the world as a whole.

What is the essence of your message as Vice-President of the Union of Arab Banks?
The Moroccan financial community sees itself as the spearhead of a more comprehensive integration of the Arab World, laying the first milestones of a common infrastructure, that could ultimately lead to commercial and monetary union. The recent Royal visits to the Gulf countries endorse Morocco’s commitment to intensifying these relations.

How is BMCE Bank positioned in the regional market and what is its international expansion strategy?
A private banking group with Moroccan roots in the African continent, BMCE Bank has made the strategic decision of stepping up its investments in Africa. Following two successful experiences in Mali and Congo Brazzaville, in 2007 BMCE Bank completed the acquisition of the Bank of Africa Group, in which it currently holds a 68% stake. The African subsidiaries’ contribution to the Group’s Net Result reached 44% at the end of 2012, which compares with 3% in 2007. Our goal is to establish a presence in all 54 countries of the African continent within the next 15 years.

What is BMCE Bank’s commitment to sustainable economic development?
Our group allocates between 3% and 4% of its Gross Operating Income to its Foundation, a practice without precedent in the world. The BMCE Bank Foundation’s programme boasts some 200 schools and nurseries catering to 14,000 students. After Senegal, Congo Brazzaville and Mali, the Foundation intends to set up other school facilities in other parts of the continent.