Regional Focus: Update from Africa
25.08.2010 | Group
What is your assessment after three years as head of the Africa zone within the “Europe Mediterranean” entity?
When I arrived in October 2006, Africa was not stirring up a lively interest for the Group. But as I leave, the region's legitimacy has clearly been reaffirmed and BNP Paribas will remain a force in this market. Without wanting to seem immodest, I think I played a role in this development.
The long-term political and economic trends are generally quite favourable for the countries in our region. Our various businesses have seen upward trends in revenues and net income from 2001 to 2009. Our business model in Africa has proved resilient amidst crises that would have brought down a lot of banks in other regions. What's more, we've been able to grow without ever requiring capital injections from the Group.
We've also initiated numerous projects to optimise our organisation, especially in risk management and compliance, as well as organisation by clientele segment. At the regional level we've pooled our Audit and Risk teams onto shared platforms, and we have treasury, communications and training projects in progress. The Inspection Générale has specifically recognized our Audit Hub as exemplary. I established links between the different CIB business lines at our banks to ensure that they work more closely together and exploit synergies. All this has played a role in decisions to affirm our presence in Africa.
What is the strategy for the Africa zone moving forward?
We're going to concentrate our efforts and investments on countries in West Africa, which share the same currency, the same regulatory framework and the same consumer profile. This is a market of 90 million people and one that has become fiercely competitive. A lot of international and African groups have made significant investments in expanding their coverage of the zone. I believe that BNP Paribas needs to deploy resources as well. We notably need to keep investing in our information systems and be better at capturing banking flows from large enterprises. Another priority is providing motivating career development opportunities for our most talented managers. They already enjoy opportunities at our regional platforms, but we have to see a rise in the number of managers in the Group originally from Africa, especially at the head office. This is critical to the future of our countries.
Why have you decided to return to Senegal?
First of all for family reasons, and also because of a certain desire to return to my country. I also want to return to a more operational position. Plus there are a lot of major challenges to return BICIS to a prominent position in Senegal and in the West African Monetary Union. To do this, beyond the strong positions we have in corporate finance, we can leverage niches where our investments and the quality of our offering make us virtually unbeatable, such as Cash Management, for example. We of course need to progress in other areas too, such as optimisation of our treasury, organisation of the small business segment and our offer for Senegalese who work and live outside the country. These are areas that span multiple entities and are being addressed by projects that have kicked off in Paris. My position as a member of the board of several other banks in the zone will help me drive initiatives at other BICI establishments. It is essential that we share common approaches.