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KCB says expansion still on course

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) said on Monday that it would sustain its expansion plans despite the global economic crisis.

Chief Executive Officer Martin Oduor-Otieno noted that just last week KCB opened three more branches in Southern Sudan raising its branch network to five.

He said the bank’s quest for increased regional presence would continue adding that business units in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, had settled well.

“The new banks are young babies, and babies grow, they crawl, they walk, they run and we are getting over that,” Mr Otieno said. “Some of them are doing better than others but we expect that this year we will achieve a break-even position in Uganda and Rwanda while Sudan is already up and running and Tanzania has turned around pretty well.”

KCB has eight branches in Tanzania and one in Rwanda, which opened for business in December 2008.

There also plans to begin operations in Burundi before the end of this year to complete its East African regional expansion puzzle.

At the same time Mr Otieno revealed that customer interest in loans has not dwindled despite the hard economic times.

“If you attended the recent exhibition at KICC on the housing sector you wouldn’t have thought there was any crisis at all in the sector. In our S and L Mortgage Company we have not seen any reduction in the application for mortgage facilities,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Otieno has denied allegations that the banking sector is shying way from providing loans for investors in the tourism and agricultural sectors which are some of the worst hit by the global recession.

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Players in the two sectors have previously raised concern on the lack of support by the banking industry.

However Mr Oduor said that banks were processing loan applications on a case by case basis.

“Banks will obviously look at the performance of those particular sectors and where there are challenges promoters of those projects have to come in and see how these challenges can be addressed,” he noted.

He expressed optimism that despite sectors like tourism suffering because of the global crisis, the industry would recover in the future and banks were not ignorant to this fact. 

Mr Otieno was speaking during the signing of a formal co-operation between Kenya College of Accountancy and the Victoria Institute of Science and Technology to establish a multi media centre in Kisumu.


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