As Morocco positions itself as China's gateway and the continent's financial hub, BMCE bank, the third-largest commercial bank in the North African country in terms of assets, is playing a key role in the development of China-Africa banking relations.
The bank has a representatives office in Beijing, and plans are underway to open a subsidiary in Shanghai before the end of the year and to expand later to Shandong, in efforts to strengthen BMCE links with China.
The bank opened the subsidiary so it can be part of the trade growth between China and Africa, says Brahim Benjelloun-Touimi, executive managing director of BMCE Bank Group and president of Bank of Africa Morocco.
BMCE Bank hopes to promote economic cooperation between China and Africa, Benjelloun adds.
This is an addition to attracting and supporting Chinese enterprises that are interested in investing in the African market as well as promoting Morocco as as investment destination.
Benjelloun-Touimi says Morocco is strategically located to act as China's gateway to Africa. "The northern part of Morocco is 13 kilometers from Europe and the country is politically stable, " he says.
"In the next 10 years, Africa is expectd to be China's leading economic partner. We therefore want BMCE to be part of that development, " Benjelloun-Touimi says.
The bank is working with Chinese institutions to develop financial cooperation between two sides.
In 2016, BMCE Bank signed two memorandums of understanding with the China-Africa Development Fund aimed at automotive manufacturing, electronics, agriculture, mining and industrial parks. The agreement also involves investment in public and private debt markets in Africa.
The second-signed by BMCE Bank; Haite Group, a Chinese aeronautics company; and Morocco-China International, the investment company of the Sino-Moroccan Chamber of Commerce-aims to establish a China-Morocco inudstrial park and a $1 billion China-Morocco investment fund, focusing on financial services, aeronautics, industrial parks and infrastructure development.
The agreement also includes technical components to support innovation in aircraft leasing and new banking sector technologies.
"We look forward to reinforcing our activities with our Chinese partners with a view to enhancing the China-Africa financial relationship," Benjelloun-Touimi says.
In addition to promoting the trade relationship between China and Africa, BMCE Bank also focuses on growing intra-African trade is currently very low," he says.
BMCE Bank enjoys broad regional coverage in Morocco and is well positioned in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. The group has operations in 32 countries, of whihc 20 are in Africa. It also has around 12,000 employees, 4 million customers in a range of markets and 1,100 branches.
BMCE has established locations in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Italy, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands.
In 2007, BMCE Bank completed the acquisition of Bank of Africa Group, in which it now owns a 72.6 percent stake. The bank is continuing to expand its geographical covergae in Africa, particularly via the BOA network that currently covers about 15 countries.
Source: FOCAC/(China Daily Africa Weekly01/19/2018 page27)