Luanda, the capital, is now the third-largest financial centre in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Johannesburg and Lagos. Hosting 20 commercial banks, compared to just six in 1999, Luanda currently has a further ten more banks awaiting operating licenses. The total banking sector in Angola to date has over 700 branches, 11,000 employees and net assets $4.3 billion; remarkable growth considering the total rebuilding of the sector and country after the cessation of the war.
South Africa’s Standard Bank recently opened a branch in Luanda, becoming the first non-Portuguese foreign bank to offer full banking services in Angola. Meanwhile, the first private equity fund exclusively for Angolan investment has been launched and brokers are now moving in ahead of the opening of Luanda’s stock exchange – Bolsa de Valores e Derivativos de Angola (BVDA).
The idea for the private equity fund came from the state-owned Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund). Promoting the fund in partnership with Norfund is Angola’s largest commercial bank, Banco Africano de Investimentos (BAI). The two have made a joint commitment of $15 million after the initial round of a financing agreement valued at $28 million.
Bringing new direct foreign investment into the economy is also firmly on the agenda of Angolan banks. BAI has overseas branches in Cape Verde and Portugal and recently opened a representative office in Johannesburg, the first Angolan bank to do so.
Building on its South African ambitions, BAI announced in December that it would be managing a $255 million credit line from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the African Development Bank.
The credit line, signed during Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos’s visit to South Africa, was the first of its kind between the two countries and will finance infrastructure and development projects. It mirrors a model used by Angola and the China Development Bank.
Another bank also spreading its wings is BPA. Despite opening only in 2006, BPA already has a branch in Portugal, dealings in Brazil and China, and plans to launch operations in the United States by 2013. (Sonangol Universo Magazine)