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A European retreat opens the door to Middle East banks in Africa

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As European and Chinese banks scale back in Africa to cut costs and redeploy capital to core markets, Middle East lenders are happily jumping in to fill the gap, buying assets and putting more boots on the ground as bilateral trade between the regions increases.

The financial and commercial ties that bind the Middle East and Africa may never have been stronger than they are today. Almost every month there is news of an important deal involving investors on both sides.

In March 2022, the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit, part of the Saudi Islamic Development Bank, signed a deal to promote bilateral trade and investment with African Export-Import Bank.

In June, three Gulf-based sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), led by the investment authorities of Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, joined forces with nine African sovereign funds, including those from Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. The result was a new platform for promoting investments in Africa, in sectors ranging from logistics and transportation to environmental protection.

Some of the deals are complex and multi-agency. Take the agreement signed in June by Dubai’s Etihad Credit Insurance and Israel Export Insurance to fund healthcare projects worth Dh540 million ($147 million) in Ghana.

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Elliot Wilson headshot.jpg
Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Greater China editor and Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.