By Angella Abushede and Muthoni Karubiu
The Preferential Trade Area Bank (PTA), also known as the Eastern & Southern African Trade & Development Bank, held a Bank Business Seminar at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on the 27th of June.
The event was organized in conjunction with the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) to share information on the opportunities provided by the bank with its members.
PTA “can do better than the commercial banks,” said Olive Kigongo, President of the UNCCI because they offer business people better rates in comparison.
PTA has a relatively low profile in the country despite financing several large infrastructure projects and supporting value addition.
“We are a quiet bank” said Admassu Tadesse, the President and CEO of the bank, but “it’s time we made some noise,” he added.
The bank has invested over $140 million in Ugandan infrastructure projects. These include the rehabilitation of the Entebbe International Airport before the CHOGM meeting of 2007, and financing Oasis shopping mall, Housing Finance and Kinyara sugar works.
“Uganda is a phoenix rising from the ashes” he says. He says that he has been lucky enough to do an economic evaluation of Uganda and it was a clear success story in Africa, even before the ‘Africa rising’ narrative took hold.
PTA Bank lends predominantly in US dollars but they are able to provide local currency depending on the markets. The terms for minimum borrowing are $0.5 million and can go up to as much as $35million.
These amounts are directed towards their two windows of financing; trade finance and project and infrastructure finance.
The bank intervenes in several sectors including: Agri business, health services, real estate, energy, hospitality, manufacturing and heavy industries, ICT and telecommunication and many more.
Additionally, PTA claims to be the only bank that transcends the three regions covered by Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). As such they believe in the importance of intra-regional trade.
“All the infrastructure we are putting together is basically to facilitate trade,” said Mr George Mudange, PTA’s director of Trade Finance.
In order to further improve their reach in Uganda, PTA is looking into a potential partnership with a Ugandan financial institution. While still too premature to discuss according to Mr Tadesse, the move could improve visibility in the country as they do not have an office in Uganda.
Mr Tadesse claimed that unlike other Development Finance Institutions such as the African Development Bank, PTA does not have G7 member countries among its shareholders.
The first non regional sovereign state member of the bank is the People’s Republic China, a fact that seemed to excite the business people in the room. East African Development Bank is the only institutional shareholder.
The seminar was attended by a wide cross section of prominent business people including Amina Hersi Moghe who gave a testimonial on working with PTA, Godfrey Kirumira, Bob Kabonero, and Patrick Bitature.