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Standard Chartered Will Refocus its Africa Franchise On What it Sees as High-growth Markets

The UK banking group Standard Chartered is planning to exit Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. It will also leave its consumer, private and small business banking operations in Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire, focusing instead on corporate, commercial and institutional clients. Operating profit in 2021 for Standard Chartered in the Middle East and Africa rose to $856m, the highest level since 2015. It is not the first British bank in recent times to leave Africa. Atlas Mara Ltd, listed on the London Stock Exchange, purchased banks in seven African countries in recent years. After what it called ‘challenging’ market conditions, Atlas Mara is currently in the process of exiting those investments. In 2016, Barclays left Africa, selling off a 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa Group. Growth in the continent continues to lag the post-pandemic recovery seen in other parts of the world, with 17 countries in Africa facing debt restructuring in 2020. The World Bank warn of twin food and fuel shocks causing civil strife in a recent report. From March 2021 to February 2022, more than four out of five countries in Africa experienced year-on-year food inflation exceeding 5%, while nearly half recorded double-digit food inflation.