Kigali, 5 May 2017

  • Board Chairman, Marc Holtzman, and Distinguished Board Members
  • CEO, Diane Karusisi, and Executive Team
  • Shareholders, Clients, and Staff
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

It gives me great pleasure to join you tonight, to mark the first half-century, of the Bank of Kigali.

The story of this bank, is really the story of Rwanda’s financial sector, as a whole. Surviving for fifty years, is not the real achievement, however. It is what the Bank of Kigali has become, in that time, that we are here to celebrate.

The Bank of Kigali has the country’s largest branch network, and it is one of Rwanda’s most iconic and recognisable brands.

It was the first Rwandan bank to receive an international credit rating. It was also the first bank to list its shares on the Rwanda Stock Exchange.

More recently, the bank has expanded into insurance, with the ambition to become an integrated financial services company, for its clients. It is also emerging as a leader in financial technology innovation.

The Bank of Kigali has not neglected the bottom line, either. The company turned a healthy profit for shareholders last year, which gave it the privilege of being Rwanda’s biggest taxpayer. When the private sector is doing well, we are all better off.

Congratulations, to the entire team, are therefore in order. The Bank of Kigali could not have reached this point without hard work, and prudential management.

The importance of a dynamic and competitive banking sector for Rwanda’s development, cannot be emphasised enough. Investment requires confidence in stable and reliable financial institutions, which are able to supply adequate capital, at affordable rates.

Government is working to do its part, to create a level playing field through sound regulation, and an attractive business climate. But those efforts only produce the results our people need, as the private sector actors step up, to take full advantage.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all, that banking is not just numbers. It’s really about the hopes and dreams of real people.

Building homes for our families. Saving for our children’s education. Having the personal financial security to be able to face life’s challenges, without undue anxiety.

Banks also help entrench the culture of saving and investing, in society. Of course, this draws more capital into the formal financial sector. But much more importantly, the habit of saving serves to make us more future-minded, more optimistic, and better at planning ahead.

We need much more of this mindset in Rwanda, and our banks have a big role to play.

We recognise, of course, that there are challenges. Capitalisation in the banking sector remains too low, compared to other markets, limiting our ability to finance major projects, as a nation.

The cost of credit also remains quite high, limiting the availability of long-term financing for families and growing companies.

We need to work together, the private sector together with government, to make credit products more plentiful and affordable.

Our economy is undergoing a process of transformation, and our financial sector along with it. Every milestone is a springboard, to do even more.

Let’s take this moment, as an opportunity to project the Bank of Kigali, as the bank of the future.

Thank you, and once again, happy anniversary. Let’s enjoy the rest of evening together.