Access Bank CEO Wins African Banker Award, As Nigeria Shines At 2020 Ceremony

Winners were on Wednesday announced for the postponed 2020 edition of the African Banker Awards at a virtual awards ceremony, which coincided with the ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s Annual Meetings.

The organisers added some award categories this year, reflecting what it called the AfDB’s High Fives Agenda. They are:  Energy deal of the year, which went to a renewable energy bond structured by Nedbank and infrastructure deal of the year to the Port of Maputo in a transaction led by Standard Bank.

The SME bank of the year went to Nigeria’s Bank of Industry.

The Group Chief Executive of Nigerian-headquartered Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, was named African Banker f the year, for his role in pursuing the bank’s growth and expansion, including the takeover of Diamond Bank, which was bigger less than 15 years ago, was named African Banker of the Year.

Access Bank, the organizers noted in a statement, also won Agriculture deal of the year, helping Olam International develop its rice operations in Nigeria.

The award of African Bank of the Year went to Trade and Development Bank (TDB); while Citi emerged Investment Bank of the Year; even as Kenya Women Microfinance clinched the Award for Financial Inclusion. The SME Bank of the Year went to Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BoI), which also won Deal of the Year (Debt) for the €1bn syndicated senior loan facility, along with Afreximbank and Credit Suisse.

The Socially Responsible Bank of the Year went to Kenya’s Equity Bank; Ecobank grabbed the award for Innovation in Banking; and Deal of the Year (Equity) by Nigerian investment banking group- Chapel Hill Denham for its role in the MTN Nigeria Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Award for the Infrastructure Deal of the Year (Port of Maputo), went to Standard Bank; Nedbank clinched the Energy Project of the Year with its Renewable Energy Bond; among others.

Also among this year’s big winners were women, including the award for the Central Bank Governor of the year, which went to Caroline Abel from the Seychelles.

 Nigeria’s Zainab Ahmed, won the Finance Minister of the Year award, given what the organisers noted was the difficult circumstances she had managed to push through a set of difficult reforms and successfully engaged international partners to help the country navigate an extremely challenging economic environment.

African Banker Icon was given to Vivien Shobo, who was CEO of ratings and advisory firm, Agusto & Co until last December.

She was recognised for playing an instrumental role in developing Nigeria’s credit markets and also for helping grow a truly world class organisation that is competing against much better resourced international players.

Tunisian pioneer Ahmed Abdelkefi won the Lifetime Achievement Award. This businessman and financier was the founder of numerous businesses operating in leasing, brokerage and investment banking. He also founded private equity group Tuninvest, and then launching Africinvest, without doubt one of Africa’s most successful Africa-owned PE firms.

TDB won Bank of the Year, a year after its CEO, Admassu Tadesse, won Banker of the Year.

Commenting on this year’s awards, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker noted that while the year has been momentous in every sense, “banks will have to play a lead role in kick-starting post-Covid growth and sustaining the real economy.

“Governments and regulators have done an excellent job with limited means and both our winners Caroline Abel and Zainab Ahmed have demonstrated strong leadership there.

“Banks will need to work with institutions and partners to ensure liquidity doesn’t dry up. To quote our Lifetime Achievement Winner: Keep moving forward: adapt, innovate, take risks. That’s your job. Today’s crisis is neither the first and it will not be the last,” he stressed.

The awards, which are held under the high patronage of the African Development Bank, are sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund as Platinum Sponsor, the Bank of Industry as Gold Sponsor and Moza Banco as Associate Sponsor.