15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Sim Tshabalala

15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Sim Tshabalala

Sim Tshabalala, Joint CEO, Standard Bank, South Africa

Standard Bank is probably Africa’s best-known financial brand, operating in 32 countries around the world, 19 of them on the continent. Sim Tshabalala took over this powerhouse in March 2014 as joint CEO, becoming the bank’s first ever black chief executive and only the second amongst South Africa’s big four lenders.

The outlook for South Africa in 2015 is challenging, and although Standard Bank’s business is global, its main opportunities could be in fixing some of the perennial blocks to business in its home market.

Power, in particular, is a considerable challenge for the country, with the national grid creaking due to long-term underinvestment and growing demand.

The bank has funded and arranged more than 940MW of renewable energy expansion as part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme initiative begun by the national utility, Eskom.

The bank has also joined the US-led Power Africa initiative, committing to arrange funding of at least $150m worth of debt for the six countries in the programme. That has already risen to more than $400m, and the group intends to help arrange a further $600m for the initiative through 2018.

Tshabalala’s challenge in 2015 will be to balance these targets with more organic growth throughout the continent. Africa, ex-South Africa, currently makes up 30% of the group’s revenue. In 2015, the bank is aiming to acquire a licence to begin operating in Côte d’Ivoire, where it intends to set up a hub for Francophone West Africa.

“The broad drivers of change and development in Africa – they’re all headed in the right direction”

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