Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire (AMA)- Morocco’s Groupe Banque Populaire triumphs as this year’s African Bank of the Year, while Ghana’s Albert Essien, Group CEO of Ecobank wins the award for African Banker of the Year. Ivorian Tidjane Thiam, the first African CEO of a FTSE100 company and Nigerian Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Bank win in the African Banker Icon and Lifetime Achievement categories, respectively.
In the African Bank of the Year category, Groupe Banque Populaire beat stiff competition from four shortlisted nominees to win the coveted title. Groupe Banque Populaire is one of the most important financial services groups in Morocco. It has recently taken a major stake in West African group Banque Atlantique and helped to turn around its performance significantly.
Veteran Banker, Albert Essien from Ghana was awarded the African Banker of the Year prize. He inherited a bank in a precarious position last year, but has managed to steady the ship and bring in some important shareholders to strengthen Ecobank’s capital base.
The incoming CEO of Swiss Bank, Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam was honoured with this year’s African Banker Icon award. Thiam is one of Africa’s global leaders, the first African head of the top 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, as well as a former Minister of Finance of his country Côte d’Ivoire.
Alongside him, the Lifetime Achievement award was presented to the outstanding leader and entrepreneur Jim Ovia, founder and chairman of Zenith Bank, Nigeria, which is one of the country’s best performing banks.
The ninth edition of the African Banker Awards, hosted by African Banker magazine were held at a prestigious Gala dinner in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on 27th May, with over 500 dignitaries in attendance. Among them were a number of African Ministers of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, along with the CEOs of some of Africa’s leading Banks and financial institutions.
Abidjan was host to the African Development Bank annual meetings. It is a historic year for many reasons. This is the first annual meeting since the Bank returned to its Headquarters, the year of the AfDB’s 50th anniversary and also the meeting that will see the election of a new Bank President, as Dr Donald Kaberuka finishes his second term.
This year’s ceremony was hosted by MasterCard International. Speaking at the event, MasterCard’s Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Daniel Monehin said: “We believe that the African Banker Awards understands precisely what excellence in banking means – one only has to consider the Award winners and nominees tonight. This is why we are proud to support these Awards, where we recognize and commemorate our banking colleagues who have, in the last year, provided us with outstanding examples of progress towards our shared goal of banking excellence.”
Ecobank/Nedbank, Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique au Congo (BIAC), Banque Altantique, Groupe Banque Centrale Populaire, GT Bank and Coris Bank International also supported the Awards, along with ECAir, Sopra Banking Software and Travelex.
Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker thanked the sponsors and the judging panel which this year included Ade Adebajo, Consultant, Debt Capital Markets – Africa; Koosum Kalyan, Chairman, EdgoMerap Pty Ltd; Tom Minney, Editor, African Capital Markets News – African Growth Partners Ltd; Alain le Noir, CEO – Finances Sans Frontières; Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner – Ernst & Young Ethiopia; Michel Losembe, President – Congolese Association of Banks; Paul Derreumaux Honorary President – Bank of Africa Group and Christopher Hartland – Peel, Principal – Hartland-Peel Africa Equity Research.
“We have a fantastic crop of winners once again and they are widespread in terms of countries. East Africa won two coveted awards: the Minister of Finance and Central Bank Governor categories for Rwanda and Kenya, respectively. Morocco had a strong showing with four awards. Mozambique did well winning two awards in the most innovative bank and best bank in Southern Africa categories. It is great to see banks and financiers rise to the challenge to keep innovating and having a positive impact on Africa’s growth. The growth story will depend on a strong and resilient banking system, one that is both bold and responsible. We see plenty of these qualities amongst our winners tonight.”
Here is the full list of winners:
African Bank of the Year
Groupe Banque Populaire
African Banker of the Year
Albert Essien, Group CEO Ecobank (ETI)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Chairman, Zenith Bank
Finance Minister of the Year
Hon. Claver Gatete
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Prof Njuguna Ndung’u
African Banker Icon
Former Finance Minister of Cote d’Ivoire and CEO of Prudential
Best Regional Banks in Africa
Best Bank in North Africa
Best Bank in West Africa
Best Bank in Central Africa
Groupe BGFI Bank
Best Bank in East Africa
Bank of Kigali
Best Bank in Southern Africa
Banco de Comercio e Investimentos
Best Retail Bank in Africa
Investment Bank of the Year
Rand Merchant Bank
Award for Innovation in Banking
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year
Award for Financial Inclusion
Deal of the Year – Equity
Deal of the Year – Debt
$850m Commercial and ECA Backed Financing Package for the Ethiopian Railways Corporation
Trade Finance Deal of the Year
$1.3bn Petroleum Export Limited Syndicated Pre-export Facility
Commercial International Bank (CIB), Egypt
Infrastructure Deal of the Year
CENPOWER – KPONE IPP
Africa Finance Corporation, Nigeria
Best Islamic Finance Initiative
Citi and ICD
African Media Agency.