Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) is looking to set up subsidiaries in Somalia and the DR Congo as it looks to grow its regional footprint to 10 countries.
The bank also aims to be the first from Kenya to start operations in Ethiopia.
The lender’s chief executive officer, Joshua Oigara, said in an interview on Tuesday that KCB is optimistic that ongoing reforms by the Abiy Ahmed-led government will pave the way for the bank to open a fully-fledged branch in Ethiopia before the end of next year.
KCB opened a representative office in Kenya’s northern neighbour in 2016.
Ethiopian laws bar licensing of foreign banks to operate fully-fledged services, but rapid reforms being laid out by the country’s PM have raised hopes that lenders will be allowed to set up branches there.
“Our main area of focus is to have a business and presence in Ethiopia. We hope that by the end of 2020 we can be allowed to go further whether by opening a branch or through our mobile lending platform,” said Mr Oigara.
KCB is planning entry into DR Congo within the next three years through an acquisition like was the case with Equity Bank in 2015.
“In Congo, we are not looking to open a branch and then grow from there. It is going to be through an acquisition or a combination of businesses…in three years we should have made a conclusion to enter the country.”
Somalia has, however, proved to be a tougher market, Mr Oigara added, largely due to lack of government structures on registration of persons that make it hard for a lender to apply international regulations on money laundering.