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Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank by assets, plans to open a new office aiming to capitalize on rising trade between the continent and the Middle East, according to the Ashraq Business website.

The bank is scheduled to open a new representative office by the end of the year, according to Rassem Zok, who leads the bank’s operations in the Middle East and North Africa region. The Johannesburg-based bank already has a presence in 20 African markets.

This move comes at a time when Standard Bank’s business outside of South Africa has outperformed its home market as the biggest driver of profits in 2023. While headline earnings for the South Africa business inched up 3 percent, profits from the rest of the business soared 49 percent.

“We were looking to expand our reach towards North Africa,” adding that the new office will allow “Standard Bank to capitalize on the significant rise in the Gulf-Sub Saharan Africa-Egypt corridors, and continue to support our clients in these corridors,” Zok said.

In recent years, Gulf Cooperation Council countries have stepped up their investments in Africa, as they look to diversify their economies and prioritize areas such as food security and renewable energy.

These moves have come in the wake of reduced spending by China, which has historically been the continent’s largest investor.

Zok said the bank has had an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre for two decades, and expects the new operations in Egypt to complement this presence.

Header image credit: Standard Bank Group website.


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