YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS: ‘Africanising’ top bank managements way to go

Thursday December 26 2019


By Karl Lyimo

THE leading news-report in The Citizen on December 16, 2019 was titled ‘Rise of Tanzanian CEOs in the banking industry.’ The somewhat, somehow stimulating report was penned by the veritable journo Gadiosa Lamtey.

The report started by ticking off facts and figures on Tanzania’s banking industry. For example: it said “available data shows (sic) that 31 of the current 52 financial institutions registered by the (central) Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to operate in the country – about 60 percent – are headed by Tanzanian chief executive officers (CEOs)...

...That, “52 is the total number of banks in the country currently, a drop from 56 as of December 2015. The number comprises 38 commercial banks, two development banks, six community banks and six microfinance institutions, according to the BoT...”

...And that “31 is the number of Tanzanian chief executive officers heading commercial banks – equivalent to 60 percent of the total number of lenders (banks). In December 2015, Tanzania had 56 banks; but there were only 26 local CEOs...”

Interesting? You can say that again. Intriguing? Hmm!

If I may indulge a little in nostalgia, I’d venture to sentimentalize that ‘Africanisation’ is finally taking hold in Tanzania’s banking industry.


Look at it this way – starting with the country’s historical and near-historic pitfalls.

The government of the founding President of Tanzania (1962-85), Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (1922-99), nationalized banks under the ‘Arusha Declaration and TANU Policy on Socialism and Self Reliance’ that was dramatically promulgated on February 5, 1967.

That move played merry hell with Tanzania across the world, with both bilateral and multilateral development partners of the time screaming ‘blue murder’ here, there and over there.

However, that didn’t last long. What with one thing leading to another, the country’s banking industry and other financial institutions were de-regulated beginning in 1991 – partly compliments of the Zanzibar Declaration and the President Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s ‘RUKHSA’ days (1985-95).

This (‘Rukhsa’) allowed participation in the banking business and other clearly lucrative areas by every Tom, Dick and Harry and other private sector players, both local and foreign.

In due course of time and events, there mushroomed new merchant banks, commercial banks, bureaux de change, credit bureaux and other financial institutions in the country’s market. This is to say nothing of a gazillion financial cooperatives by and for local communities that act like backstreet banks supplementing the dozens of High Street banks across the Motherland!

But, that’s a tale fit to be told another day... The story here today is on what reminds me of the ‘Africanisation Movement’ which came on the back of political Independence from alien rule that was attained by some African countries beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The term ‘Africanisation’ was coined to describe the affirmative action taken by the new home-grown leaderships in the-then ‘Tanganyika’ (December 9, 1961-April 25, 1964) and elsewhere on the African continent.

‘Africanisation’ was intended to increase the number of Africans/indigenes in functional operations/activities that were earlier dominated by foreigners. Therefore, doing this in the banks in Tanzania strengthens not only the banking industry, but also the general Economy.

In ‘My Book of Things,’ Africanising top banking posts is morale-boosting – and it is the right way forward. Go on, I say; bring in more native bank CEOs... Cheers!