The Worldfolio sits down with Martin Cristanto to discuss the banking sector in Equatorial Guinea and how BANGE bank is supporting economic development and the Horizon 2020 plan.
The economic and social development of Equatorial Guinea in recent years has naturally led to a boost in the country's financial system. Now, the great challenge of the Equatorial Guinean financial system is to translate this impulse into consolidation and stability over time. In this sense, companies, both national and international, will have an important role in its expansion. What is your vision on the role that the private sector is having in the consolidation of the financial system of Equatorial Guinea?
In the face of Horizon 2020, important steps have been taken to transform the country into a regional financial center. In this regard, critical structural reforms have been launched to strengthen the financial sector in the face of external shocks, while promoting financial inclusion and supporting the development of the private sector. Among the main achievements we can mention are the strengthening of the capacities of the personnel of the sector, and the finalization of the internal regulations and rules for the declaration of information to the supervisory bodies. In the future, efforts will be continued to maintain adequate capital reserves to guarantee the solvency and liquidity of the banks. Work will also be done to deepen the banking sector, while continuing to work closely with the regional authorities to strengthen banking supervision. effective.
The strategic Horizon 2020 plan is government oriented to open the economic range of the country by diversifying its resources beyond the energy sector and in this way reduce its oil dependence. What role do you consider the banking sector has in promoting the economic diversification of the country, and more specifically how does BANGE support other economic sectors other than energy?
The banking sector has played and will always play a fundamental role in the financing of the economy and for the development of non-oil sectors. Over the next few years it will be necessary to create jobs and many of these jobs will be created by small businesses, which are the engine of economic growth. In the case of the National Bank of Equatorial Guinea, we will rely on our strength and our presence in practically the whole country to contribute to the creation and growth of these companies, offering them a personalized service and advice, in addition to making available the financing they need.
BANGE has established a very important national expansion strategy and in 2017 it opened its first representative office in Madrid. Likewise, it has an important role in the CEMAC region by opening offices in markets such as Cameroon. Could you tell us about the next steps that BANGE will take to penetrate other markets?
Our position in Equatorial Guinea will continue to consolidate. We will continue to offer new products and services to keep our customers loyal, and we will also develop new services such as mobile banking that will help improve the rate of banking in the country. We will continue to increase our client portfolio, working on the greater linkage of these. We will be the first bank in the country in the services of electronic means of payment.
On the other hand, we are in the last phase of our National Expansion Plan, we will have branches in all provincial capitals and districts. In the CEMAC sub-region we will continue to promote our International Expansion Plan, this year we will open a branch in Cameroon and we are exploring other markets both inside and outside CEMAC.
For the second consecutive year BANGE has been selected as the "Bank of the Year" in Equatorial Guinea. This prize undoubtedly shows the good work of the bank. How did BANGE achieve to be awarded with such an important distinction?
Many factors have contributed to BANGE being recognized for the third consecutive year as the Bank of the Year in Equatorial Guinea. It can be highlighted: the strength of our balance sheet and our ability to continue generating results in a difficult economic environment; in addition to complying with all the prudential ratios required by the sub-regional banking regulator, the Banking Commission of Central Africa (COBAC); the development of multi-channel banking, with special attention to the consolidation of electronic payment services and internet banking; financial inclusion, through the provision of products and services to meet the needs.
The commercial relations between the United States and Equatorial Guinea are becoming stronger and a an example of this is the $2.4 billion expected in 2019 by the North American investment community.
What would you say are the main competitive advantages and opportunities that Equatorial Guinea presents for foreign investors?
The United States has been Equatorial Guinea's main partner in the exploitation of the country's oil resources. The second phase of the Equatorial Guinean Industrialization Plan (PEGUI), recently launched by the Government, stands out as pillars of development to diversify the economy: fishing, agriculture, mining, tourism and finance. For this reason, the Government has increased the incentives for attracting foreign investment. Within the framework of the PEGUI, a development the industrial city project in Mbini is being developed. It is an ambitious project that aims to achieve broad development in sectors such as the textile, petrochemicals, food and tobacco, wood and cork, furniture, metallurgy and sanitary industries.
In order to improve the business climate and facilitate the entry of investors, a single window has been created to streamline the procedures for the creation and establishment of companies. The legal framework that regulates investments in Equatorial Guinea has been created. Equatorial Guinea has been endowed with a very attractive investment code. All these factors make our country an attractive destination for doing business.
What final message would you like to send to American investors who are evaluating investing within the CEMAC region and why can Equatorial Guinea and BANGE be your strategic partner?
Knowledge of the environment is very important to conduct business; you have to know Equatorial Guinea to appreciate the potential of the country and exploit the investment opportunities that arise. For many potential investors a common mistake is wanting to know the country from a distance; you have to come to Equatorial Guinea.
In order to attract foreign investment, the Government has made great efforts to improve the business environment, to simplify the processes for the creation and establishment of companies. There have been great advances in investment protection and property rights. In short, Equatorial Guinea is making significant changes to provide itself with a favorable business environment to face the phase of economic diversification.
The message to investors interested in Equatorial Guinea as a destination for doing business is very clear. Our country has opted to diversify its economy and for this it has the private sector, and of course, this is a great opportunity for foreign companies that want to do business in the country.