By Tobby Otum
President Uhuru Kenyatta has commended Kenya’s Equity Bank for its growing continental presence saying the financial institution’s expansion is helping unite Africa and expand her economic freedom.
“Today, the Republic of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo forge a stronger bond through the merger of Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) and Equity Bank Congo (EBC).
“It is a moment of rare regional and continental pride, as we witness our local enterprises coming together in the spirit of One Africa, One People,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State spoke in DR Congo when he presided over the official inauguration of the rebranded Equity BCDC office block in Central Kinshasa.
“Our forefathers fought to secure not only political freedom, but also economic freedom. The political freedom is secure; economic liberation is the task of our time,” President Kenyatta said.
Kenya’s Equity Group first entered the Congolese market by acquiring Procredit Bank in 2015 and has over the years consolidated its position to become the second largest bank in DR Congo with a nationwide footprint of 74 branches.
The bank, which acquired its name Equity BCDC following its merger with Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), has a balance sheet in excess of USD 3billion and a customer base of over one million.
Once again, President Kenyatta reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to forging closer economic and social relationships in the region and across Africa especially as the world continues to suffer the ravages of Covid-19.
“No country has ever achieved prosperity by isolating itself from international trade and integration. Bilateral and multilateral economic partnerships produce tremendous mutual benefits, including more quality jobs, higher incomes, innovation, and expansion of markets,” he said.
The President commended Equity BCDC for its monumental growth in DR Congo and challenged other Kenyan businesses to emulate Equity Group’s growth model.
“I am proud to say Equity BCDC is making steady progress on those fronts; by delivering monumental and positive change in creating opportunities for all. It is a template that other corporate entities should follow,” President Kenyatta said.
Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, Equity Group Board Chairman Prof Isaac Macharia, the Bank’s Group CEO Dr James Mwangi and DR Congo’s Central Bank Governor Deogratias Mutombo also spoke at the inauguration ceremony.
Dr Mwangi applauded President Kenyatta for being a champion of regional integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), saying the Head of State’s efforts had encouraged Kenyan private sector players to venture into the region and the continent.
“We thank you most sincerely Mr President for championing regional integration and the African Free Trade Area framework, enabling the private sector to grow regional ambitions,” the highly accomplished banker said.
The Equity Group CEO said he hoped his bank’s successful expansion into the region and beyond will help inspire other Kenyan private sector entities to look beyond the country’s borders.
“We hope the steps Equity and others have taken in becoming regional actors will inspire the private sector to venture out,” Dr Mwangi said.
At the event, also attended by Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Kenya’s ambassador to DR Congo Dr George Masafu, the Equity Group CEO assured President Kenyatta of his bank’s commitment to being a great brand ambassador for Kenya in DR Congo.
“We reaffirm our commitment to uphold the image and brand of our country Kenya in the manner we conduct our business professionally and ethically so as to keep the doors open for others by winning the trust of our host communities,” Dr Mwangi assured.