The Bank of Baroda has been lauded by a South African minister for being the only institution of its kind willing to open offices in many developing nations in Africa.
Minister in the Office of the Presidency Essop Pahad was speaking at the official opening banquet of the Johannesburg branch of the Bank of Baroda on Tuesday evening.
The bank, which has been operating an office in the port city of Durban for the past decade, decided to open a branch in the commercial hub of the country as well.
"The Bank of Baroda came into South Africa at a time when there was some uncertainty (in the wake of apartheid) about whether business should come here at all," Pahad said as he lauded the bank for its courage and foresight.
"But making me far happier than even the opening of this branch tonight is the fact that you are opening branches in Arusha, Francistown and Kampala. It is far more critically important how we can develop the rest of the continent, especially where others do not want to go."
Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Bhatia said the opening of a second branch of Bank of Baroda in the country would help accelerate the pace with which the two countries are moving towards meeting the target set by the leaders of India and South Africa of increasing trade to $10b by 2010.
"This event today marks a welcome day for India's banking industry in South Africa. Along with the presence in South Africa of the State Bank of India, ICICI, Bank of India and EXIM bank, the expansion of Bank of Baroda will be valuable in contributing to further deepening of India-South Africa relations."
"By the same token, we note happily that one South African bank, First National Bank, is now already in India and that others are trying to follow suit," Bhatia added.
"We are an Indian bank specialising in African operations, and want to act as an economic bridge between India and South Africa," said Anil Khandelwal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of Baroda as he explained that the new Johannesburg office was the 63rd foreign office of the Bank of Baroda as it marks its centenary year.
"Thirty-five per cent of our profit comes from foreign operations."
The Bank of Baroda opened its first African office in Kenya in 1953, and since then has established its presence in almost every country in Southern Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles, with plans for a few more in coming months.
Khandelwal said an office would also begin operating as a full subsidiary of the Bank of Nigeria within weeks, to start off the Bank of Baroda's planned advent into West Africa.