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CBE’s Djibouti branch yet to find its footing
Mathewos Kidane

CBE’s Djibouti branch yet to find its footing

News Y3-CBE’s Djibouti branch  

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) is yet to consolidate its operations in one of its long-standing foreign branches, located in the downtown of Djibouti, The Reporter has learnt.

The State Owned Bank, which reopened its Djibouti branch in 2016, is expected to go operational a year ago as per its earlier plan. However, it is still offering minimal services due mainly to the delay of a Bank Identifier Code (BIC) a.k.a SWIFT Code which was supposed to be provided by an Italian IT firm. SWIFT is an eight- or 11-digit code that identifies the country, city, bank, and (11-digit only) branch of a specific banking operator located anywhere in the world.

The Reporter also learnt that the single CBE branch currently operational in Djibouti will probably begin to offer its full-fledged banking services by next month, depending on a pledge it received from the Italian SWIFT Code provider.

Customer Service Manager of the Branch, Mathewos Kidane, told journalists on Tuesday at the bank’s branch office, located in the neighboring commercial center of Djibouti, that so far the branch office is only engaged in registering potential account holders.

“We have been trying to secure dollar accountholders in our branch. However, most Ethiopians residing here need money transfer services instead of other banking services. Similarly, we have received requests from many of our potential customers wanting us to launch money transfer service; we also had such plans in the early days of the opening up of the branch in Djibouti.

But we are now behind from our plan that why we could not be competent enough with other banks operating here in Djibouti” he said.

According to him, the branch will come to full operation after few weeks as it expects the swift code from the Italian firm.

So far, it has registered around 300 customers who already hold accounts. However, almost all of its registered customers are Djiboutian though an estimated 200,000 Ethiopian citizens either resides permanently there or temporarily.

The bank used to have its own buildings and other assets before it sold them a decade ago.

Currently, it is struggling to get the right track or full-fledged bank operation by renting working place.

CBE had shut down its Djibouti branch in 2014 after more than 40 years of operation. It then started operation in 1962 as a liaison office and became a full-fledged bank in 1971, employing about 40 workers, including six Ethiopian managers.