Segun Agbaje, chief executive of Guaranty Trust Bank, has been named Africa’s Banker of the Year for a second time at a glittering awards ceremony in Lusaka, Zambia.
Agbaje, a 20 year veteran of investment and international banking, was recognised for his leadership of a bank at the forefront of technological change.
The Harvard Business School alumni helped to launch a pioneering social media banking platform reaching over 3.6m Facebook followers, an achievement for which his colleagues also picked up the Innovation in Banking Award.
“I work in probably the greatest continent on earth which is Africa. Most people think the greatest places in the world are in the developed economies. But look at the ROEs in Africa and look at ROEs in developed countries. Doing business in Africa is a blessing,” he said.
The African Banker Awards, held at Lusaka’s InterContinental Hotel on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings, recognise the most impressive players in the continent’s blossoming financial services sector. The tenth annual instalment received entries from over 200 institutions.
An audience of over 400 financiers, including African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina, witnessed Moroccan institution Attijariwafa take home the prestigious Bank of the Year award. The panel of judges acclaimed the bank, active in 24 countries, for its “huge regional expansion at a time when other banks are retrenching.”
Elsewhere it was a night to remember for Cameroon, where Alamine Ousmane Mey took home the Minister of Finance of the Year award. He was joined in celebration by compatriot Paul Fokam, president of the Afriland First Group, who picked up the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award.
After another busy year heading up South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, the continent’s largest fund manager, chief executive Daniel Matjila was named African Banker Icon. Matjila was honoured for driving investment into corporations across the continent.
“This award is very special to me, to the PIC, and my colleagues that work very hard to drive economic growth across the continent. This is a very important sign that the PIC is on the right path…and now we are more determined than ever before to drive growth in the continent,” he said.
The PIC is currently considering taking a more activist role in boosting the struggling South African economy, and another firm which excelled against that challenging backdrop was Rand Merchant Bank, which saw its pre-tax profits increasing 13% to $264m. The bank’s efforts were rewarded with Investment Bank of the Year.
Banco Comercial e de Investimentos, the Mozambique based institution, also defied the Southern African gloom with a 23.74% increase in operating income. A net profit of $37m saw it take home the Retail Bank of the Year award.
Central Bank Governor of the Year went to Kenya’s Patrick Njoroge after a year in which he pledged to weed out the “bad apples” in his nation’s banking system.
Appearing as a special guest at the ceremony, African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina gave fulsome praise to the continent’s financial sector.
“The private sector does not operate on air, it operates on finance. I am extremely proud of the bankers in Africa, we’ve got today 200 banks with total asset value of $1.5 trillion. That’s about 75% of all the GDP of Africa right there. You’re supporting all the businesses.”
The award for Financial Inclusion went to Ecobank (Togo), which this year made haste on plans to deliver accessible financial services to over 1.5m low-income individuals and micro-entrepreneurs.
Equity Deal of the Year was brokered by Citigroup for its work on a $2.5bn accelerated equity offering for media giant Naspers, the largest South African equity transaction of all time. Rival investment banking house Lazard Freres beat off the competition to win Debt Deal of the Year for its work on Cameroon’s inaugural $750m Eurobond issue.
Infrastructure Deal of the Year was awarded to the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, for its work arranging funding for the 459MW Azuro-Edo power plant in Edo State Nigeria.
And proving that banking is not all about mega-deals and dominant CEOs, the Socially Responsible Bank of the Year award found a welcome recipient in Egypt’s Commercial International Bank. The bank allocates 1.5% of net profits to long-term, sustainable development programmes in its home country, totaling $6.75m in 2015.
Awards for Best Regional Bank were handed to Commercial International Bank (North Africa), Banque Atlantique (West Africa), BGFI (Central Africa), CRDB Bank (East Africa) and Mauritius Commecial Bank (Southern Africa).
Speaking at the dinner, Omar Ben Yedder, group publisher of African Banker magazine, which hosts the awards in partnership with BusinessInAfricaEvents, said “We have recognised true leaders tonight who are playing a critical role in the socio-economic development of the continent. Finance remains a key component of development, be it in terms of financing massive infrastructure projects that today are being wholly financed by consortia of African banks, or SME financing. It’s happening because of strong, bold and visionary leadership.”
This year’s judging panel was made up of Koosum Kalyan, chairman of EdgoMerap Pty Ltd; Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia; Tom Minney, chief executive of African Growth Partners; Alain le Noir, CEO of Finances Sans Frontières; Christopher Hartland-Peel, principal at Hartland-Peel Africa Equity Research and Kanika Saigal, editor of African Banker Magazine.