World Bank Takes Pulse of Congo's Banking Sector

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 22 March 2001

Brazzaville, Congo—A World Bank mission has been taking stock of banking sector reforms underway in Congo, official sources in Brazzaville said Wednesday.

Finance ministry sources in Brazzaville said the World Bank delegation held fruitful talks with officials in various banking institutions poised to change status.

The talks focused notably on the privatisation of the the Congolese Banking Union (UBC) which gave birth to COFIPA-Investment, a bank with European and African capital based in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

The privatisation of UCB was preceded by a move to recover loans from several clients. The operation yielded 50 billion francs CFA.

The compromised portfolio of UCB would be transferred to the Congolese Sinking Fund (CCA). COFIPA-Investment has since taken over the healthy portfolio of the bank.

Apart from the former UCB, the privatisation process underway at the Congolese Bank of Credit for Agriculture, Industry and Commerce (CAIC) featured in discussions between the World Bank delegation and Congolese authorities.

A French group of popular banks, which has been working on the scheme for a long time now, will take over CAIC.

CAIC is financially very healthy, hence an investment attraction unlike the International Bank of Congo (BIDC) for which the authorities are still looking for a buyer.

French bank, Société Générale, turned down an offer because of a history of financial disagreements with Congo.

The privatisation scheme for all banks was proposed to the Congolese government by the World Bank, which is also monitoring a restructuring of the entire public sector in Congo.