Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank CEO

BY EMEKA EJERE

As part of its positioning strategies to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA}, Access Bank Plc says it has targeted eight African countries for a potential expansion.

Group Managing Director of the bank, Herbert Wigwe, who disclosed this to investors in a conference call on Tuesday, listed the countries marked for expansion to include: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Namibia, and Senegal.

Nigeria’s biggest bank by asset consummated a string of acquisitions across the continent last year in Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia, the latest being a takeover of Lusaka-based Cavmont Bank in August.

That means the eight markets it now targets will bring its footprint on the continent to 20 countries.

Wigwe said Access Bank plans “to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA”, adding that the bank will use its London-based office as an “anchor for growth” to expand representative offices in countries such as India, Lebanon and China.

He also said the bank plans to eventually expand into 22 other African countries to cushion challenges in some markets, diversify earnings and take advantage of growth opportunities in the continent.

“We believe that we are best positioned to basically do all of that. Our focus is to become an aggregator in Africa and we are building a global payment gateway and providing trade finance support and correspondent banking across the continent. We are focusing on the key markets,” Wigwe said.

“We are diversifying our earnings away from volatile markets as well and we are orchestrating our operations from the global payments gateway and ensuring that using Access Bank UK, providing corresponding services from digital platforms, the overall profitability of our franchise.”

Access Bank had said in a note to the Nigerian Stock Exchange in September that it planned to venture into the South African market while consolidating its presence in Mozambique.

On the holding company structure to be adopted by the bank, Wigwe said the bank plans to open four subsidiaries cut across insurance brokerage, consumer lending and agency banking as well as payment business to boost revenue.