Norfund’s platform for bank investments in Africa, Arise, has acquired 14,1 % shareholding in Ecobank - a bank active in 36 African countries, including Mali and several other countries in the Sahel region. the aim is to boost economic growth through strengthening of the local banking sector.
The Sahel is a region with high poverty, conflict and increasing impacts from climate change. The investment in Eco Bank will contribute to increased access to credit for entrepreneurs and SMEs in Sub Saharan African Countries and thereby to increased financial inclusion and development in the region.
Access to finance and financial services are essential for innovation, business development and job creation. One of the targets of the eight Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations is "Strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access for all to banking, insurance and financial services".
Loans and saving facilities are also essential for reducing vulnerability of individual households. Digital solutions are an important part of delivering on this potential.
In Mali for example, only 18% of the adult population and less than 10% of women have a bank account. However, mobile money is on the rise and almost 1/4 Malians have access to a mobile money service.
Ecobank Mali has 38 branches in Mali, including in remote and rural areas, and is the bank that has seen the fastest growth in the Ecobank Group. Ecobank Mali focuses on the retail and consumer sector, and offers use of cards, ATMs and internet banking services to their customers.
The Sahel is a key region for Norwegian development efforts. It is therefore promising to see that the private sector can play a part in this agenda.
By investing in Ecobank, present in countries such as Mali, Niger and Chad, Norfund will help improve access to banking services for both individuals and entrepreneurs in this vulnerable area.
We know that contributing to economic growth and job creation will be crucial to improve lives in this region
Minister Dag Inge Ulstein during his visit in Mali in September
Arise aims to collaborate with local Financial Service Providers (FSPs) in Sub - Saharan Africa to boost economic growth through strengthening the local banking sector. This transaction with Ecobank Group will see Arise collaborate with Ecobank to advance financial inclusion on the continent.
The Eco Bank Group employs in total 15,500 people. Ecobank provides consumer and commercial banking, corporate and investment banking, and securities, wealth and asset management to over 19 million customers. These range from individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, to regional companies, financial and international organisations and governments via over 800 branches and offices, 2,731 ATMs, the internet (ecobank.com), and mobile banking.