Standard Chartered: Africa Is An Opportunity To Invest Rather Than Exit

Growing African businesses looking to sell their products and services beyond the continent present a growth opportunity for Standard Chartered, the bank’s chairman said on

The group has operations in 16 African nations, including Kenya, and offers services via correspondent banks in 22 more markets in Africa, where sliding commodities prices have put the brakes on previously strong growth.

Rival Barclays has responded by reducing its exposure to Africa, but Standard Chartered takes an alternative view.

“We see Africa as an opportunity to invest rather than exit or divest,” its chairman John Peace told Reuters in Nairobi, adding that the internet and other technology is linking more African companies to global trade.

“You can run a business, not just a large corporation but a medium-size business, here in Kenya and be connected to the world,” he said. “Banks, therefore, have a duty to be able to support that connectivity and that is what we are trying to do.”

The World Bank cut its 2016 growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa this week to 3.3%, from a previous estimate of 4.4 percent, citing the drop in commodities prices.

Commodity exporter SA and oil producer Nigeria have been hit hard. But Kenya, an oil importer now enjoying cheaper crude prices, has kept annual growth around 6%. Peace said that Standard Chartered’s wealth-management products were finding customers in nations such as Kenya.