The Commercial International Bank (CIB), Egypt’s biggest privately owned bank listed on the stock exchange, is gearing up to strengthen trade ties with East Africa, with Kenya serving as its entry point into the Sub-Saharan region.
CIB Group, with total assets valued at more than $26.8 billion, aims to leverage its robust financial position and banking expertise to facilitate trade between the two countries.
In January 2023, CIB completed the acquisition of Kenya’s Mayfair CIB Bank (MCIB) after acquiring the remaining 51 percent stake; it originally bought 49 percent in 2020, marking CIB’s first cross-border acquisition.
Amid a dollar shortage affecting Kenya and various countries across the continent and other regions, the bank sees an opening to facilitate cross-border trade between Kenya and Egypt with reduced dependence on the dollar.
Both Egypt and Kenya have experienced a scarcity of US dollars in the past year, leading to increased inflationary pressures and economic strain, particularly on trade. Consequently, the two nations explored alternative trade mechanisms, like barter systems, to maintain crucial trade connections.
To ease this pressure on the businesses, the lender is looking to enable seamless transactions between its Egyptian and Kenyan operations.
CIB managing director and CEO Hussein Abaza says that part of the bank’s strength comes from its corporate and SME trade finance capabilities, which, together with a comprehensive set of banking services, create a strong proposition.
Egypt’s main imports from Kenya consist of coffee and tea, whereas Egypt exports paper, plastics, and sugar products to Kenya. Official government trade data shows a steady increase in trade volumes between Egypt and Kenya, reaching $663.6 million (KES 106 billion) in 2022, which the lender will be looking to tap into.