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Zimbabwe Best Bank: Standard Chartered

Botswana I Ethopia I The Gambia I Ghana I Kenya I Malawi I Mauritius I Namibia I Nigeria I Senegal I South Africa I Swaziland I Tanzania I Togo I Uganda I Zambia I Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s policies continue to severely undermine the Zimbabwean economy. Having dramatically reduced export earnings through the destruction of viable agricultural production in a botched land redistribution programme, he turned his attention to urban areas last year with disastrous consequences: the homes and businesses of around 700,000 people – most of whom were political opponents – were destroyed.

There are substantial challenges involved in operating in a market such as Zimbabwe, especially with inflation closing 2005 at 586%, the economy contracting by 7% and the exchange rate having fallen from Z$24 to the US dollar in 1998 to Z$101,000 in June this year. But despite the enormously difficult conditions, Standard Chartered has carried on improving services to clients, albeit at a substantial cost: its inflation-adjusted after-tax loss in 2005 was Z$1.640 trillion ($16 million). That is unsustainable in the long term but Standard Chartered’s reputation as a safe haven for assets will stand it in good stead.

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