Côte d’Ivoire: New Bank Rush to Bouaké

After years of absence, the banking industry is booming in Bouaké, the third largest city in Côte d’Ivoire, considered as an economic hub for Burkina Faso and Mali. Sixteen banks, including the new Malian Bank of Solidarity, compete for a market boosted by the return of the Central Bank of West Africa States (CBWAS).

BDU, Diamonds, BNI (National Investment Bank), SIB (Bank Company of Côte d’Ivoire, Attijariwafa Bank Group, Morocco), the Atlantic Bank, SGBCI, Orabank, Nsia Bank, CNCE, Ecobank, Bicici and in a few weeks the Central Bank of West Africa States (CBWAS).) …

In all, sixteen banks, including the new Malian Bank of Solidarity (BMS), have established in Bouaké. As the third largest city in country, Bouaké is also called the « second Malian town » with « at least 2.5 million Malians », according to the consulate of Mali to Bouaké, making it the largest Malian city outside Mali in the world.

A strong economic potential

Bouaké would represent $ 758 million US, or 3% of GDP of Côte d’Ivoire, and would rank third in economic performance after Abidjan and San Pedro, according to the July 2013 report by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI-CI) provided to President Alassane Ouattara.

Its population, mostly Malian, generates a financial windfall that attracts the banking operators. According to Kanté Abdoulaye, president of the bankers of Bouaké, « at least CFA 6 billion 400 million moves in the city’s economy per day »

This is also why BMS decided to establish in Côte d’Ivoire and opened its first branch to the hinterland, in addition to Abidjan, for the wholesale market. This newcomer illustrates the economic potential of the bank industry after years of crisis.

The Central Bank of West Africa States (CBWAS) will boost the market

Forced to close during the crisis, of which looting had led to a loss of several billions of CFA, the CBWAS will reopen in a few weeks in Bouaké, which may boost the market, according to Charles Dutauziet, head of agency of the SIB.

« The fund transfers to Bouaké cost CFA 600 thousands per convoy and all the banks could not afford to pay. The Central Bank (CBWAS) will resume activities through its rehabilitated branch, facilitating the establishment of new banks here, and it is good for the economy. This shows that Bouaké has a potential and that jobs are being created, » said the manager of the branch.

It also mentions that « to set up a bank in a city, a market and activity survey is required before. The Bank Commission thinks there is potential in Bouaké and that activities are resuming gradually. Thus, the forthcoming opening of a CBWAS branch to Bouaké quite easily vindicates the bank rush. »

The return of confidence

If the return of peace prompts the banks to reestablish, could it be an appearance of a very strong competition and new economic battles? « No, there is no war of banks in Bouaké » replied Charles Dutauziet for whom « the difference will be rather at the level of the offer. »

For Dr. Séraphin Prao Yao, a professor-researcher in economics at the Alassane Ouattara University in Bouaké, the return of confidence allows the market to develop and give Bouaké its full place in the country’s economy.

« Bouaké is the third largest city in Côte d’Ivoire, so logically in order to expand their network, the banks must be established not only in the economic capital, Abidjan, but also here. Businesses open. It is in honor of the banks to establish alongside the economic operators who still want to trust Bouake to perform a key role in the country’s economy. »

Author: Issiaka N’guessan // Photos: Bouaké Main Street and CBWAS Agency © Bouaké Town Council


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