|Headline: Africa Awards
Date: July 2000
Author: Chris Cockerill
Best bank: Standard Chartered Bank
Only recently described on the cover of the Economist as the lost continent, and battered by the turmoil in Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, Africa is not generally regarded by banks as even belonging to the group of countries they regard as emerging markets.
Standard Chartered Bank is one of very few foreign institutions willing to operate on the ground and one of even fewer that make money doing it. Despite operating in a number of exceptionally volatile countries its returns from Africa last year were £100 million a quarter of the group's profits. It continues to invest heavily in its African operations. The bank has modernized branch networks to international standards and upgraded technology. Involved heavily in retail banking it offers many of the products more sophisticated markets take for granted, for example debit cards, personal loans, and ATMs. Its recent investments in Cameroon will mean the number of ATMs in the country is doubled and the added luxury of increased security surrounding its ATMs in Kenya has increased its customer base. Standard Chartered's old rival, Barclays, is starting to invest more heavily in its African operations, and SCB may find the competition tougher in the future.