Before discussing your strategy, which are the key figures and facts that you would highlight?
First of all I would like to say a word of tribute to the 15,000 individuals in 11 African countries and 7 European countries, working at the service of our community. The second figure relates to the bank’s robust growth over the past five years, with an average 21% annual increase in credit to the economies of the countries where we have operations. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, credit activity in the developed countries has stalled completely. Within this context, a 21% growth rate while preserving the quality of our assets is a clear sign of strength. The third figure is an average 27% return on equity over the past four years, unequalled in the entire region. Finally, we have an overall market share of around 28 % among the 15 banks currently operating in Morocco.
You have led Attijariwafa Bank to the conquest of Francophone Africa with over a billion dollars invested in these markets over five years. Could you explain your strategy?
Given our size and polyvalent workforce, it was a legitimate aspiration for us to seek growth outside Morocco’s borders. We felt that the model we had found to be successful in Morocco could be replicated in other African countries. Within six years we have acquired ten banks in ten African countries. While the percentage of the population holding a bank account reached 52 % in Morocco by the end of 2012, this figure stands at a mere 5 to 10% in these countries. Hence, there is great potential to gain bank customers among the middle classes, very small businesses and SMEs. Africa already accounts for 20% of value creation at Attijariwafa Bank, and this is just the beginning. We drew up a first roadmap seeking to establish a presence in all the countries of Francophone Africa. The second stage of our project with a 2015 horizon is to carry out investments in Lusophone and Anglophone Africa. We also are firm believers in regional integration and South-South cooperation. We have created a new institution, Afrique Développement, whose second edition took place this year in Casablanca, attended by 1,300 financial players from 12 African countries.
What is your outlook on the future relations between Morocco, the Gulf countries and the rest of Africa?
The establishment of an investment bank at the Dubai International Financial Centre is the first stone we have laid in the Gulf countries. Attijariwafa Bank can be a gateway to Africa, challenging investment ideas, studying their feasibility and viability and ensuring their financing. This open window to the Gulf countries also represents an opening for African financial players seeking to trade with the Gulf countries. The great advantage of the Gulf countries is that they are located halfway between Africa and South-East Asia.