Equity Bank Uganda will play a key role in the final stages of Uganda’s oil and gas sector.
Addressing the press at the launch of the bank’s new head office at Church Hose Building located along Kampala road on Friday , Dr. James Mwangi said contractors and suppliers in the oil and gas chain can get a single loan of up to US$250m (Shs924.8bn) from the bank.
“We want to partner with Uganda and Ugandans to ensure that they benefit from their oil. We can give a single loan [to oil contractors and suppliers] of US$250m dollars. We don’t need syndicated loans as a group,” Dr. Mwangi said, adding that the bank can extend the said amount to 10-20 borrowers.
He added that Equity Bank Group is “a deep pocketed institution”, with a capital base worth US$1bn.
He noted that oil and gas sector requires a lot of money and Equity Bank is best placed to provide financing to the sector because it doesn’t need to syndicate loans unlike some banks including multinationals operating in the Ugandan market.
Mwangi noted that Equity Group alone can control 75% of Uganda’s banking industry market share.
“Equity Bank Kenya is 25 times bigger than the Ugandan subsidiary,” he said.
The move from Katwe to Church House which the bank funded comes as the bank marks its 10 years of operation in Uganda. It launched its operations in Uganda in 2008. The new facility, which is bigger and more accessible, will house the bank’s head office as well as the Church House branch, with two distinct sections; one for retail customers and the other for corporate customers, both located on the ground floor. Church House is a 16-floor commercial office building built by the Church of Uganda at a cost of US$17m (about Shs63bn).
Equity Bank Uganda Managing Director, Samuel Kirubi, said the bank has grown over the years to become one of the top 10 banks in Uganda because it develops products based on customers’ needs.
He added that the bank has been very innovative and inclusive.
He said the bank’s customers have grown to over 600,000.
“We listen to our customers and come up with solutions to their needs. We have customer days where we talk to them at their branches,” he said.
Equity bank is one of the fastest growing banks in Uganda, with a network of 33 branches and 945 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals supporting merchant banking. After the introduction of agency banking in October last year, Equuity bank took the lead to roll it over across the country.
It now has about 1000 agents (Equi Duuka) enabling 70,000 transactions worth Shs25bn per month.
“Our agents are initiating account opening, mobilizing deposits and doing withdrawals,” Kirubi said.
Equity Bank has a total asset base of Shs1.03 trillion, making it the 8th largest bank by asset size in Uganda.
“Since we launched our bank a decade ago, we have continued to grow and expand both in size and in the range of our product offerings. We see a great future with digital banking platform because it gives customers the freedom to do their banking without any constraints of time or distance,” he added.
From employing 150 people when it started, the bank now has 800 staff.
The Guest of honour, Dr. Louis Kasekende, who is also the Bank of Uganda Deputy Governor applauded Equity bank for being on top of innovation and pushing for financial inclusion.
He also noted that bigger banks with strong capital base are good for development.
“In 1993, some people were saying lower capital was good, but that’s not true. The bigger the capital [of a bank], the stronger they can support growth and development,” he said, adding that Equity also demystifies the notion that big banks can’t serve smaller borrowers
Kasekende also noted that BoU will not bail out insolvent banks.
“The governor was talking about insolvency not liquidity. There are funds by law to help banks having liquidity issues,” he said.