Africa’s Top Bankers Celebrated

Africa’s Top Bankers Celebrated

The African Banker awards honoured some of the continent’s leading banks and bankers at a lavish ceremony in Abidjan on Wednesday night.

Moroccan institution Banque Populaire beat a shortlist of four nominees to win the coveted African Bank of the Year prize, having recently taken over and turned around West Africa’s Banque Atlantique.

This year’s dinner, held during the African Development Bank’s Annual Meeting in Abidjan, welcomed over 500 guests, including finance ministers, central bank governors and chief executives from across the continent.

Ghana’s Albert Essien, group chief executive of Ecobank, took home the African Banker of the Year in recognition of his work in steadying the institution and bringing in new shareholders to secure its capital base.

“I am really privileged and honoured to have received this prestigious award – its unexpected. If you have a good team with you, a team that works together, you will definitely shine as a leader. So this is a tribute to the Ecobank team”

He added, “We need to get Africa out of poverty, out of all those social problems. We need to educate people, and build our continent. Financial institutions and banks should definitely be the catalyst for economic and financial development”. 

A Lifetime Achievement award was handed to Jim Ovia, founder and chairman of Nigeria’s Zenith Bank.

Credit Suisse’s incoming chief executive Tidjane Thiam was the toast of his home country after picking up the African Banker Icon prize.

The award represents another coup for the Ivorian businessman, who became the first black FTSE100 chief executive when he was chosen to lead UK insurer Prudential. He will take up his role as head of the Zurich-based Credit Suisse in June, replacing outgoing chief Brady Dougan.   

Rwanda’s Claver Gatete was named Finance Minister of the Year, while Professor Njuguna Ndung’u of Kenya took home the award for Central Bank Governor of the Year.

“I am deeply humbled, I am very grateful for the recognition to our leadership. We never do anything without the leadership of our President and I think this is his recognition,” said Mr Gatete. 

Investment bank of the Year was secured by Rand Merchant Bank.

“I think we’re really excited as we expand into the continent of Africa, this is a testament to the hard work of all the staff and the transactors of Rand Merchant Bank for making this a possibility,” said Suresh Chayboo.  

South Africa’s Standard Bank prevailed in the African Retail Bank of the Year category. Robert Cleasby, global head of the financial institutions group, accepted the award.

“Its absolutely fantastic, for us as Standard Bank, its part of our strategy in Africa to be a regional bank”. 

Outgoing AfDB president Donald Kaberuka made an appearance at the start of the evening, thanking the staff of his bank for their contributions to his leadership.

“I want to thank you for this honour but want to remind you that anything a leader achieves is always a  result of the efforts by the people who work with him or her.”

For a full list of this year’s winners, see below.

African Bank of the Year

Groupe Banque Populaire


African Banker of the Year

Albert Essien, Group CEO Ecobank (ETI)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jim Ovia 

Chairman, Zenith Bank


Finance Minister of the Year

Hon. Claver Gatete


Central Bank Governor of the Year

Prof Njuguna Ndung’u


African Banker Icon

Tidjane Thiam

Former Finance Minister of Cote d’Ivoire and CEO of Prudential

Best Bank in North Africa

Attijariwafa Bank


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

Standard Bank

South Africa

Investment Bank of the Year

Rand Merchant Bank

South Africa

Award for Innovation in Banking

Millennium BIM


Socially Responsible Bank of the Year



Award for Financial Inclusion

Fondation Attawfik


Deal of the Year – Equity

Seplat IPO

(Standard Bank)

Deal of the Year – Debt

$850m Commercial and ECA Backed Financing Package for the Ethiopian Railways Corporation

(Credit Suisse)

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


Africa Finance Corporation, Nigeria


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Written by African Business Magazine

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