CORRECTED-Morocco’s BCP 2018 net profit up 3.5 pct

(Corrects to full year in first paragraph)

RABAT, March 19 (Reuters) - Morocco’s Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP), one of the country’s biggest lenders, said on Tuesday its 2018 annual net profit attributable to shareholders rose 3.5 percent to 2.9 billion dirhams ($302 million).

BCP cited an improvement of activities in Morocco and in African branches.

Net banking income grew 4 percent to 17 billion dirhams on the back of an improvement in the commercial segment while general risk provisions rose to 4.1 billion dirhams, BCP said in a statement.

At BCP’s African branches, net banking income increased 14 percent, with a 12 percent rise in loans and 9 percent increase in deposits.

The bank proposed an annual dividend of 7.5 dirhams per share, up 15.4 percent

BCP has 6 million clients in Morocco and branches in Europe and the Gulf collecting hard currency from the Moroccan diaspora. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Ed Osmond)