The 2019 edition of the prestigious African Banker Awards was held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea in June. These annual awards have become the benchmark of all that is best in the African banking and finance industry.
Development institutions were the toast of the night as Afreximbank won the Bank of the Year award and the Trade and Development Bank’s President, Ethiopian Admassu Tadesse, received the Banker of the Year accolade.
The annual African Banker Awards, which celebrate individual and institutional excellence in Africa’s financial sector, have become a highlight of the African Development Bank’s traditional AGM activities, whether these are held in Africa or elsewhere.
The thematic spotlight this year was the need to spread mainstream services to larger segments of the population, as the level of financial inclusion in Africa is still well below the global average. Gender parity at senior management level is also lagging behind, although there has been considerable positive movement in this direction over the past decade.
Both these issues were referred to by the two main sponsors of the awards, the African Guarantee Fund and the Bank of Industry, which have created several innovative instruments and mechanisms to lend to the often marginalised SME sector.
The African Banker of the Year, Admassu Tadesse, has overseen the remarkable growth of the Trade and Development Bank (TDB). It has grown its portfolio five-fold since he took over as president in 2012.
TDB, formerly the PTA Bank, is the financial arm of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It has 22 members from across the COMESA region as well as the East African Community and SADC. It also has two non-regional members – China and Belarus.
The profile of the Bank of the Year, Afreximbank, has grown exponentially over the past decade and it is now one of a handful of major international development finance institutions operating in the African space.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to former FirstRand Group CEO, South African Sizwe Nxasana. Under his leadership, the bank grew at a compound annual growth rate of 20%. In his acceptance speech, he called for even greater investment in human capital to spur growth in Africa.
The African Banker Icon went to Mitchell Elegbe, founder of Interswitch, the payments service provider. His company is predicted to become Africa’s first unicorn – a tech start-up whose value exceeds $1bn.
Egypt’s Tarek Amer won the Central Bank Governor of the Year award for his work in restoring faith in Egypt’s markets and contributing to making the country one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, as well as one of the best-performing emerging markets.
Romuald Wadagni from Benin won the Finance Minister of the Year award. He has considerably improved the country’s macro-economic indicators and embarked on a number of reforms to structurally transform the economy.
South Africa dominates investment banking awards
South African banks dominated the Investment Banking and Deals of the Year awards. Absa won the Investment Bank of the Year category and Standard Bank and RMB won the Equity Deal of the Year prize for the VIVO Energy IPO.
Deal of the Year in the Debt category went to Rothschild & Co for the Senegal $2.2bn-equivalent dual-currency Eurobond; while Credit Agricole and TDB’s financing of the Floating LNG platform in Mozambique won the Infrastructure Deal of the Year award.
In other categories, Ecobank received the Retail Bank of the Year accolade; Kenya’s KCB won the prize for Innovation, while Equity Bank was rewarded for its CSR activities. Nigeria’s Bank of Industry won the prize for Financial Inclusion.
Commenting on the achievements of the banks shortlisted for the awards, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker magazine said: “We’ve been following the work of the financial services industry for many years. The sector over the years has seen great returns, and 2018 was another strong year for banks.
“Undoubtedly FinTech was the most buoyant sector in terms of tech investments and we are yet to truly see the transformative impact it can have. Despite the positive stories from the banking sector, the words of the winner of our Banker of the Year still resonate when he said last year at the Africa Investment Forum: we need to speed up, scale up and synergise. ”
The Awards took place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The country was for many years the fastest growing in Africa, with massive capital expenditure. Following the fall in the price of oil however, the country is on a plan to structurally reform its economy.
The awards, which are held under the patronage of the African Development Bank, are sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund as Platinum Sponsor, the Bank of Industry as Gold Sponsor and Coris Bank as Associate Sponsor.
The Host Sponsor this year was Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial, by far the country’s biggest bank in terms of assets and footprint. NA
For more information, please visit: www.africanbankerawards.com
The 2019 African Banker Award Winners
African Banker of the Year – Admassu Tadesse, TDB
Lifetime Achievement Award – Sizwe Nxasana, former CEO, First Rand Group
African Banker Icon – Mitchell Elegbe, Founder, Interswitch Group
African Bank of the Year – Afreximbank
Minister of Finance of the Year – Romuald Wadagni, Benin
Central Bank Governor of the Year – Tarek Amer, Central Bank Governor, Egypt
Best Retail Bank in Africa – Ecobank
Investment Bank of the Year – Absa Capital, South Africa
Award for Financial Inclusion – Bank of Industry, Nigeria
Special Commendation: For their contribution to the development and financing of the Rural Sector – Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (BANGE)
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year – Equity Bank, Kenya
Innovation in Banking – KCB, Kenya
Special Commendation: JUMO, South Africa
Deal of the Year (Equity) – Vivo IPO: Standard Bank & Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)
Deal of the Year (Debt) – $2.2bn Senegal Eurobond, Rothschild & Co
Infrastructure Deal of the Year – Mozambique Floating LNG,
TDB & Credit Agricole
Regional Bank of the Year
East Africa – KCB, Kenya
West Africa – Orabank
North Africa – Banque de l’Habitat (Tunisia)
Southern Africa – Mauritius Commercial Bank
Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon