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South Africa’s Standard Bank plans to open representative office in Ethiopia

Standard Bank intends to open a representative office in Ethiopia by the end of March 2015 in a bid to bolster relationships with local businesses.

The new office will allow the South African bank to develop market intelligence to help advise clients interested in investing in Ethiopia, reports Reuters.

The bank will not be permitted to offer commercial banking services, such as taking deposits or lending, as foreign entities are barred from running such operations in the country.

Standard Bank senior vice president Taitu Wondwosen told Reuters: "We go where our clients are. More and more of our clients are starting to ask about Ethiopia."

"In the short term, we are under no illusion that it is going to remain closed."

In Ethiopia, foreign companies are restricted from offering services such as banking and telecom.

Standard Bank is one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups and operates in 32 countries around the world, including 19 in Africa.

With a population of 96 million, Ethiopia has been investing in new roads, railways and power plants to lure manufacturers as well as other investors.