The biggest banks in Uganda based on asset value. Prior to independence, banks’ in Uganda were owned by foreigners.
Through an act of Uganda’s parliament, the Bank of Uganda (BOU), the country’s monetary authority was instituted starting operations in August 1966 purposely, to issue money and manage the foreign exchange market.
The Bank of Uganda was also tasked to regulate the financial sector in the country. These roles have since shifted with the rapid changes in the banking and technology sector.
The East African Currency Board located in Nairobi – Kenya was a central body established in the East African protectorate by the colonial government. Established to manage the issuance of money in the East African region.
The East African region after 1919 comprised Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and the Aden colony.
The Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) opened in 1964 and was wholly owned by the government of Uganda in a market earlier dominated by foreign owned banks like Bank of Baroda, Barclays Bank, the Bank of India, Grindlays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
Banking during Uganda’s civil unrest
During Uganda’s dark days of war and civil unrest, the banking industry declined within a decade. From more than 290 commercial Bank branches in 1970 to just about 80 by the end of the 1980’s.
This number however started increasing slowly after 1987. The revival of the current banking industry starting from 1990-2000, during the Governorship of Charles Nyonyintono Kikonyogo.
The banking industry went underwent major restructuring with many indigenous commercial banks being termed insolvent and were taken over by the Central Bank and eventually sold off to foreign entities.
The collapsed banks included banks like Uganda Commercial bank, Greenland Bank, Uganda Cooperative Bank, the International Credit Bank, Teefe Bank, and Gold Trust Bank.
Top 5 biggest Banks in Uganda
Today we look at the top 5 biggest commercial banks in Uganda in terms of asset base.
1. Stanbic Bank Uganda
A subsidiary of the Standard Bank of South Africa. Standard Bank acquired 90 percent shareholding in the defunct Uganda Commercial Bank which was a government-owned bank operating over 65 branches all over the country.
Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited started operation in 2002. As of December 31 2015, Stanbic Bank Uganda is the biggest commercial Bank in Uganda with a total asset base of approximately UGX. 3.729 trillion and its shareholders’ equity was approximately UGX. 544.8 billion.
Stanbic Bank is also listed in the Uganda Securities Exchange with diverse roles as a merchant banker, stockbroker, and financial adviser by the Capital Markets Authority.
2. Standard Chartered Bank Uganda
A commercial bank licensed by the Bank of Uganda. Standard Chartered Bank is popularly known as Stanchart Uganda. Standard chartered Bank Uganda is well known to serve large corporate clients, upscale retail customers, and medium to large business enterprises.
As of December 2015, standard Chartered Bank was the second largest commercial bank in Uganda by assets, behind Stanbic Bank Uganda.
The estimated asset base of Standard Chartered bank is UGX. 2.68 trillion. Standard Chartered Bank Uganda was founded in August 1912 and is the oldest commercial bank in Uganda.
3. Crane bank (In November 2017, Crane Bank Uganda Limited was taken over by DFCU bank)
A commercial bank licensed by the Bank of Uganda. Crane Bank is the third largest bank in Uganda with assets of approximately UGX. 1.720 trillion and shareholders’ equity of approximately UGX. 316 billion.
Crane Bank operations in Uganda started in 1995. A member of the Ruparelia Group of companies which includes financial institutions, insurance companies, real estate investments, horticultural enterprises, hotels, and resorts.
As of 31 December 2014, Business man Sudhir Ruparelia controlled 48.67 percent of the bank with shares held by him and his close family members.
4. Centenary bank
A commercial Bank licensed by the Bank of Uganda to operate in Uganda. Centenary Bank started as an initiative of the Uganda National Lay Apostolate in 1983 as a credit Trust.
The Bank began operations in 1985 with the main objective of serving the rural poor and contributing to the overall economic development of the country.
In 1993, Centenary Rural Development Bank Limited was given an operating license as a full service commercial Bank and today is the largest indigenous bank with over 1,400,000 million customers and its services can be accessed across our 65 branches, 162 ATMs and through mobile banking (CenteMobile) platform.
As at December 2015, Centenary Bank shares were controlled as follows; 38.5 percent by The registered trustees of various catholic dioceses in Uganda, 31.3 percent by The regional trustees of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, 11.6 percent by SIDI, 18.3 percent by Stichting Hivos-Triodos Fonds, 0.3 percent by individuals.
Professor John Ddumba Ssentamu is the chairman board of directors of Centenary Bank Uganda. The bank invests 1 percent of its annual profits to charity.
5. DFCU bank (took over crane bank ltd increased its portfolio as one of the biggest banks in Uganda)
A commercial Bank in Uganda registered by the bank of Uganda.
DFCU bank was started by the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) of the United Kingdom and the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) under the name of Development Finance Company of Uganda Limited.
Later restructuring brought in DEG (of Germany) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) as equal partners with CDC and UDC, each having a 25% stake in the company.
Its objective was to support long-term development projects whose financing needs and risk did not appeal to the then existing financial commercial lending institutions.
DFCU Bank Limited was incorporated under the Laws of Uganda on the 14th of May 1964, as a Private Limited Liability Company. The company went on to acquire Uganda leasing company in 1999 and Gold trust bank in 2000.
DFCU became a publicly company on the Uganda Securities Exchange in 2004. As of December 2014, DFCU Bank’s estimated asset base was UGX. 1.425 trillion and shareholders’ equity of about UGX. 191.54 billion.
In December 2014, the bank was the fifth-largest commercial bank in Uganda, by assets, accounting for approximately 7.7 percent of all bank assets in the country.