Financial intermediation is low in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) compared to other regions of the world. This paper examines the determinants of bank interest margins using a sample of 456 banks in 41 SSA countries. The results show that market concentration is positively associated with interest margins, but the impact depends on the level of efficiency of each bank. In particular, compared to inefficient banks, efficient ones increase their margins more in concentrated markets. This indicates that policies that promote competition and reduce market concentration would help lower interest margins in SSA. The results also show that bank-specific factors such as credit risk, liquidity risk, and bank equity are important determinants of interest margins. Finally, interest margins are sensitive to inflation, but not to economic growth or public or foreign ownership. There are regional differences within SSA regarding the level of interest margins even after controlling for other factors.
Valentina Flamini, Miss Liliana B Schumacher, and Mr. Calvin A McDonald
Bank profits are high in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) compared to other regions. This paper uses a sample of 389 banks in 41 SSA countries to study the determinants of bank profitability. We find that apart from credit risk, higher returns on assets are associated with larger bank size, activity diversification, and private ownership. Bank returns are affected by macroeconomic variables, suggesting that macroeconomic policies that promote low inflation and stable output growth does boost credit expansion. The results also indicate moderate persistence in profitability. Causation in the Granger sense from returns on assets to capital occurs with a considerable lag, implying that high returns are not immediately retained in the form of equity increases. Thus, the paper gives some support to a policy of imposing higher capital requirements in the region in order to strengthen financial stability.