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Access Bank Plc has revealed that it will leverage on the benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty, its over 42 million customer base on the African continent, the growing users of its digital channels and every available opportunity, to expand to high-potential markets across the continent and in strategic markets across the globe.
Herbert Wigwe, group managing director and chief executive officer of the Tier-1 Nigerian financial institution, disclosed this during an investor call on Tuesday where he stated that Nigeria’s biggest lender has also identified eight African countries for its potential expansion as it seeks to benefit from a continental-wide free trade pact.
During the call event, which was monitored by Business A.M., Wigwe said: “Access Bank plans to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The markets of interest are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Angola, Namibia and Ethiopia.
“Access Bank will also use its London-based unit as an ‘anchor for growth’ to spread out its agent offices in countries such as India, Lebanon and China,” Wigwe further stated.
Besides, the bank’s Africa strategy, he said, is supported by its presence in key international markets, which enables the bank to diversify earnings away from the volatile operating environments in Africa, orchestrate operations as a global payments gateway, manage risk and exposures to soft currencies and also enhance its profitability without excess risk.
In a robust and detailed presentation of its outlook ahead to 2023, on its plans to leverage on the world’s largest trade market, AfCFTA, the bank said it plans to eventually expand into 22 African countries to cushion challenges in some markets, diversify earnings and take advantage of growth opportunities in the region.
The bank recognises and is looking to seize the broad aim of the African trade pact, which major goal is to bolster intra-regional commerce by lowering or eliminating cross-border tariffs, facilitating the movement of capital and people, promoting investment and paving the way for the establishment of a continental-wide customs union.
“Presently, the company already operates in 12 countries following a series of acquisitions spanning from Kenya to the Nigerian market. We will look into other markets where we can acquire skills that grow GDP and growth opportunities. We will be involved in transactions that are capitally acquainted in a deliberate manner,” the bank’s chief said.
On the bank’s transition to a holding company this year, after obtaining approvals-in-principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2020, the bank unfolded its HoldCo architecture that would invlove four broad subsidiaries, namely the Access Bank Group; Payments Business; Consumer Lending and Agency Banking; and Insurance Brokerage.
For the latter, the bank is already working with Coronation Insurance, where it is developing and offering a robust suite of bancassurance services in Nigeria and Ghana.
Wigwe explained that the subsidiaries would be driven to boost revenue, and noted that he expects the transition to be completed by the second half of 2021.
“Access Bank is in partnership with Coronation Insurance to offer insurance products to the bank’s customers and it is already available in Nigeria and Ghana. Access Insurance Brokerage would adopt a dynamic and creative approach to provide value-added insurance broking services focused on meeting customers’ insurance protection needs. There is a market opportunity of about $150 billion in countries with Access Bank’s presence assuming insurance penetration in these countries (4.4%) grows to South African penetration (13.1%),” Wigwe stressed.
The largest lender in Nigeria stated that it will reorganise to capture and optimize retail opportunities in its HoldCo structure, noting that the process will afford it the opportunity to create new product revenues without taking an additional risk for the enterprise, ensure diversification of earnings and support outside of Africa expansion.