Picture: iSTOCK
Picture: iSTOCK

Nedbank is expanding its wealth business into West Africa’s French-speaking countries in a venture with Ecobank Transnational to target a region that is increasingly eyed by lenders looking to benefit from faster economic growth.

Nedbank, the biggest shareholder in Ecobank with a 21% stake, started offering wealth products to the pan-African company’s clients in Ivory Coast and wants to replicate the service in Senegal, executive for Ecobank Investment, Mark Weston, said on Wednesday in an interview in Abidjan. Benin and Burkina Faso may follow thereafter.

“If we’re going to get value out of our relationship with Ecobank, we really have to explore what we can do here,” Weston said in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital. “Part of that is exploring where we can add value” for Ecobank’s customers in more than 30 countries.

Ivory Coast’s economy has expanded by an annual average of more than 8% since 2012 while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting growth of more than 6% in Senegal this year. Nedbank’s extension comes amid a thrust from other companies also seeking to expand in West Africa’s francophone territories, with Citigroup making a push into funding governments and Standard Bank eyeing Senegal after opening a branch in Ivory Coast.

For the region’s English-speaking countries, the venture is planning expansion to Ghana in 2019, growing from its existing base in Nigeria to cover West Africa’s two biggest economies, Rufaro Mucheka, head of strategy and continental operations outside SA for Nedbank Wealth Management, said in the same interview.