Commercial Bank of Ethiopia struggles to make profit in Djibouti

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Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), which reopened its branch in Djibouti 18 months ago, is still struggling to make profit.

CBE has not been able to compete with other banks in Djibouti because it has not been able to secure swift code, according to Mathewos Kidane, Acting Customer Service Manager at CBE Djibouti branch, who spoke to visiting journalists from Ethiopia.

“Our branch is currently we are only providing two services opening current and saving accounts…The delay of Swift code by an Italian company has hindered us from providing the financial services most people are interested in,” he said, indicating that currently the branch has less than 300 account holder clients.

In Djibouti currently a total of 12 banks are operational providing world class financial services, which includes handling international trading, online banking, money transfer and specially designed financial services for individuals ad business with debit and credit cards, which CBE has not been providing to this date.

“When we re-opened the Djibouti branch 18 months ago it wasn’t anticipated that getting swift code will take that long time. The company has been asking us to fulfill many conditionalities…Now about two weeks ago we have got the swift got. We are preparing to start the missing services,” said Mathewos, indicating the significance of the loss CBE Djibouti branch has been registering over since its opening in the face of shortage of hard currency in Ethiopia.

CBE Djibouti Branch has 17 staff and rented a house in a business district in Djibouti. Reports show that CBE, which used to own several buildings in Djibouti before it was closed eight years ago, was one of the profitable banks in Djibouti.

Among the major  banks operating in Djibouti include, CAC Bank, Bank of Africa and Salaam Bank. “There is still huge opportunity for CBE to grow and become profitable,” Mathewos hopes.

New Business Ethiopia