Kigali, 19 June 2009
• Heads of Rwandan Higher Institutions;
• Hon. Abdirahim Abdi, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly;
• Mr. Peter W. Muthoka, Group Chairman, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and members of the KCB board;
• Mr. Maurice K. Toroitich, Managing Director, KCB Rwanda and your staff;
• Business Leaders from East Africa;
• Distinguished Guests;
• Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to join management and staff of Kenyan Commercial Bank to launch your business operations in our country symbolised by today’s inauguration of the first KCB branch in Rwanda.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you, Mr Muthoka, and your colleagues from the KCB board, to Kigali.
We look forward to a long-term and productive relationship between Kenya Commercial Bank and through it, the Kenyan and indeed East African business community, including the Rwandan private and public enterprises and individual depositors.
Kenya Commercial Bank’s corporate citizenship in our country constitutes a welcome milestone for several reasons, not least because the Bank’s vision is to contribute to the creation of a dynamic and innovative banking and financial sector in our country.
As we are all aware, the banking and financial sector is fundamental to capital formation.
By mobilizing and distributing money, banking and financial institutions enable enterprises to raise funds to start and expand business operations.
These institutions perform varied and complex financial transactions that range from purchasing to asset management.
In other words, a modern banking industry has extensive capabilities and market insights to guide investors – in addition to the conventional roles of receiving and safeguarding deposits, managing and investing people’s savings and extending credit.
Further, these institutions assist industry and nations to become more productive and competitive by, among other things, financing and mentoring small and medium enterprises.
Rwanda is no exception: all these services are critical to capital formation and therefore key to our own socioeconomic transformation.
The current global financial crisis notwithstanding, Rwanda’s banking and financial sector is healthy and growing – but the sector needs to become more innovative to turn Rwandan challenges into opportunities.
We know for example that the savings culture and rates in our country remain very low.
But we are also aware that whenever Rwandans are challenged to raise financial resources, they do so with remarkable commitment and result.
What we have been lacking are dynamic institutions to mobilise greater resources and creatively invest them into projects with more significant impact and reward.
I am confident that KCB brings new ideas and attitudes, and that together with its corporate counterparts in our banking sector, increased capabilities in these areas will be soon realised.
Let me conclude by noting that there are other reasons why the entry of the Kenya Commercial Bank into the Rwandan banking sector is important for our country and East Africa.
First, KCB is the first commercial institution from the East African Community to set up operations in Rwanda.
You are also the first bank in our Community to cross-list on the capital markets of East African countries, including Rwanda.
We should give this factor its due importance: this is a vote of confidence in the East African Community and its member states in the sense that we are a viable market individually and collectively.
Second is the timing of this investment – it comes at a time when the global financial crisis is affecting every country in the world.
Kenya Commercial Bank could have delayed this investment by choosing to sit out the crisis in its home market – but you did not, and you are therefore joining us in Rwanda at a critical point to become part of the solution to our financial challenges that include a shortage of long term financing.
Third, Kenya Commercial Bank has comprehensive plans to expand its operations in our country including the establishment of more branches.
In this respect, with decades of experience, KCB should become a role model to other financial institutions especially in terms of improving customer care in Rwanda.
Once again, I welcome Kenya Commercial Bank to our country – and it is now my pleasure to declare this Kigali branch open.
Thank you for your kind attention.