Citibank Latches Onto Economic Promise, Looks to Grow Revenue in Africa

Citibank Latches Onto Economic Promise, Looks to Grow Revenue in Africa

A Citi Bank branch. Photo: Citibank

As increased trade, urbanization and digitization grows in Africa, banks look for avenues to increase capital. Citibank, the U.S.’s third largest bank, in regards to assets, is no exception. Business Day Live reports the group is expecting to increase revenue across the continent.

According to Business Day Live, Citi country officer Donna Oosthuyse believes global economic growth relies on urbanization, increased intra-Africa trade in addition to advances in technology.

Earlier this year, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat announced that the bank would “exit or scale back operations in 21 countries,” Business Day Live reported. However, African countries were excluded.

“There are no markets in Africa where we have exited,” Oosthuyse said in the report. Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa she said, offer the most promising economic opportunities.

“If the terms of trade deteriorate, it’s going to be a little more challenging for countries to have the finances to build up infrastructure, so China is a concern,” Oosthuyse added, keeping in mind that China’s slowed economic growth affects Africa’s commodity producers.

Citigroup is not relying on reform to help generate revenue. Ade Ayeyemi, Citi’s head of the Africa division said in the report that reform isn’t often recognized as the foundation of economic growth.

“Reform creates the space for people to provide services to people looking for them,” Ayeyemi told Business Day Live.

This is why Citigroup’s focus is on South Africa’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and how the company can “direct U.S. capital,” the report said, “in a way that is impactful,”Ayeyemi added.

Oosthuyse said: “The U.S. is looking for ways to be more relevant and to facilitate capital flows into key drivers of economy in Africa including South Africa.”

According to Business Day Live, Citigroup may consider offering cheaper financing to SMEs which will boost cash flows and accelerate GDP growth. Citigroup currently operates in 15 African countries.