By JOHN SAKALA
Zambia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Joseph Chilengi has urged Ziraat Bank, Turkey’s largest state-owned commercial bank, to consider opening a branch in Zambia.
Dr Chilengi said reputable Turkish financial institutions like Ziraat Bank have a critical role to play in supporting trade and investment between Zambia and Turkey.
Dr Chilengi made the call during a bilateral meeting with Ziraat Bank Executive Vice President for Treasury Management and International Banking, Bilgehan Kuru in Ankara.
“It is important to note that all major power houses have their own structures of facilitating trade and investment and Turkey as an emerging powerhouse both politically and economically should consider opening a branch in Zambia,” Dr Chilengi said.
He said Zambia remains an investment destination of choice because of peace and political stability that the country has enjoyed since independence in 1964 in addition to its central location in the Southern African region.
“Our two Governments have been working hard towards enhancing trade and investment in various sectors considering the immense potential that exists between our two friendly countries,” Dr Chilengi said.
He said Turkey’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years has been driven by the region’s importance to Ankara.
Dr Chilengi further said the agenda to boost trade and investment between the two countries cannot be achieved without the support of the banking and financial sector.
“Turkish investors and traders have appreciated the potential for trade and investment between the two countries. Turkish businesses are craving out a new niche, like Zambia, and Turkish Airlines started to fly directly to Zambia in December which is helping in enhancing trade and investment between the two countries,” Dr Chilengi said.
He also called on the Turkish financial market to take advantage of the investment and trade opportunities available between the two countries for mutual benefit.
And Mr Kuru acknowledged that the banking sector plays a critical role in efforts to boost trade and investment between Zambia and Turkey.
He said Ziraat Bank is exploring opportunities in Africa because of the huge trade and investment potential that the continent provides.
“We have to develop banking operations in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa,” Mr Kuru said
He said Ziraat Bank will explore the possibility of opening a branch or subsidiary in Zambia.
Ziraat Bank has 1,800 inland branches in Turkey with operations in over 18 countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iraq among others.
This is according to a media statement made by First Secretary for Press at the Zambian Embassy in Turkey Jerry Munthali.