Features: Awards Best Emerging Market Banks 2010 Africa


By Gordon Platt

REGIONAL WINNER: Standard Chartered Bank
c_africa Standard Chartered Bank’s earnings from its African operations rose 54% last year to $482 million. The London-based emerging markets bank receives 90% of its income and profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The bank’s overall earnings rose 13% in 2009 to a seventh consecutive record of $5.15 billion.

“We have had a presence in Africa for 147 years,” says V. Shankar, CEO for the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe at Standard Chartered Bank. “Standard Chartered is a highly respected, well-established ‘household name,’ combining deep-rooted local knowledge and experience with international expertise and capabilities. Whether this is through facilitating trade flows between Africa and Asia, financing major infrastructure projects or agri-financing deals, Africa is very much core to our business activities and strategy,” Shankar says. Standard Chartered used its strong liquidity and capital position to continue building its market share throughout the difficult global economic conditions of the past few years. It significantly increased lending and trade support for its clients at a time when many other banks were cutting back. Standard Chartered also kept a tight control on costs and risks. Its loan impairments showed a significant reduction in the second half of 2009. The bank continues to introduce new products and technology. It recently extended its online coverage of African currencies to 24 hours daily for liquid and unrestricted currencies.

V. Shankar, CEO for the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe



Arab Banking Corporation Algeria

Arab Banking Corp. (ABC), based in Bahrain, was the first international bank to open operations in Algeria after the banking sector was liberalized in 1998. Africa’s second-largest nation, Algeria is a major oil and gas exporter. ABC Algeria is a universal bank with a focus on trade finance, syndicated loans and lending to small and medium-size enterprises. ABC Algeria has 12 branches and is continuing to expand its operations across the country, as well as increase its product offerings, including credit cards and insurance. State-owned institutions hold 85% of Algeria’s banking assets.
Ahmed Redha Kara-Terki, chief executive officer

Banco Espírito Santo Angola


Alvaro Sobrinho, chief executive officer

Banco Espírito Santo Angola (BESA) has 26 branches in Angola, a country that derives 95% of its export earnings from oil, most of which is shipped to China. BESA is a subsidiary of Portugal-based Banco Espírito Santo, which in December 2009 sold a 24% stake in the unit to Portmill Investments, an Angola-based institutional investor. Established in 2001, Banco Espírito Santo Angola was the first bank to offer private banking services in the country. On the commercial side, the bank concentrates its lending on the construction, trade, health and education sectors of the economy. Unesco named BESA the Official Bank of Planet Earth in recognition of its support for sustainable development. BESA economists expect Angola’s economy to recover from last year’s slump, with gross domestic product forecast to expand as much as 10% in 2010. Inflation could be a problem following the 19.5% devaluation of the kwanza currency last year.

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, the country’s oldest and largest bank, serves both retail and corporate customers with a network of 18 branches and agencies. The bank opened in 1897 and was locally incorporated in 1975, when 25% of its shares were listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. The bank offers cash management, trade finance and credit facilities to local corporations and multinationals. Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer, was hit hard last year by falling prices for gems, but its economy is expected to recover slowly this year as demand for diamonds revives. The country’s budget deficit has swelled to 12% of gross domestic product, as spending on infrastructure products has increased while revenue has fallen.
David Cutting, chief executive officer

Côte d’Ivoire
Ecobank Côte d’Ivoire

Ecobank operates in 39 countries, including 32 in Africa. Ecobank Côte d’Ivoire is one of the oldest banks in the group, which has spread quickly across the continent in recent years and now has a total of 750 branches. The economy of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, is subject to wide swings in commodity prices. Ecobank is a full-service bank, providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction services. It was formed in 1989, when Ecobank acquired the local assets of Chase Manhattan Bank.
Charles Daboiko, managing director

Democratic Republic of Congo
Standard Bank Congo

Standard Bank Congo is part of Standard Bank Group, based in South Africa, which is present in 17 sub-Saharan countries. Standard Bank Congo began in 1973 as Grindlays Bank (Zaire), which was acquired by Standard Bank in 1992. Standard Bank Congo serves subsidiaries of multinational companies, importers and exporters, airlines, hotel groups and breweries. The country has some of the world’s biggest copper and cobalt deposits. Standard Bank Congo opened a branch in the mineral-rich Katanga region in 2008 to expand its business with mining companies.
Jean Rey, managing director

Nib International Bank

Nib International Bank (NIB) opened three new branches in 2009, giving it a network of 44 branches overall, of which 27 are located in Addis Ababa, the capital city. In addition, the bank has three foreign exchange bureaus. NIB has formed a consortium with two other commercial banks, Awash International Bank and United Bank, to introduce an electronic card payment system in the country using point-of-sale terminals. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee producer. Its gross domestic product has achieved double-digit growth rates in recent years, mainly due to the export of agricultural products.
Amerga Kassa, president

Standard Chartered Bank Gambia

Standard Chartered Bank Gambia has been operating in Gambia since 1894 and was the first bank to introduce ATMs in the country. The bank derives the bulk of its earnings from foreign exchange operations. In November 2009 it opened a new dealing room in Banjul for currencies, commodities and derivatives. The bank conducts annual tree-planting and beach-cleanup exercises to demonstrate its concern for the environment. It is also involved in many health and education projects.
Humphrey Mukwereza, chief executive officer

Ghana Commercial Bank

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) is Ghana’s largest bank. It has 157 branches, including eight that were opened in 2009. GCB focuses on trade finance and foreign exchange, as well as retail and small-business lending. It also offers investment services and money transfers. In 2008 it became the first bank in Ghana to offer MasterCard services. Ghana’s finance ministry announced in March 2010 that it would provide $315 million to clear state-run Tema Oil Refinery’s debt with GCB. The government has acquired land in the western region of Ghana to create an industrial estate to attract more foreign investment.
Simon Dornoo, managing director

International Commercial Bank Guinea

International Commercial Bank Guinea is part of a Malaysia-based global banking group that has interests in 10 banks in Africa. Kuala Lumpur-based ICB Global Management, formed by former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin, provides support services to the group and monitors internal control systems, risk management and other functions. ICB Financial Group Holdings, based in Switzerland, owns the member banks in Africa, as well as others in Eastern Europe and Asia. Mineral-rich Guinea has failed to live up to its economic potential, but the West African nation is a major exporter of bauxite. Founded in 1997, ICB Guinea has four branches.
Ananta Padmanabhan, chief executive officer

Barclays Bank of Kenya

Barclays Bank of Kenya is the leading retail and commercial bank in this East African nation of more than 33 million people. UK-based Barclays had significant income gains across Africa in 2009 but reported an emerging markets loss due to rising impairment charges in the United Arab Emirates and India. Barclays Bank of Kenya has 115 branches and 70 sales centers. Kenya, which has a largely agricultural economy, enjoyed a good rainy season this year, with gross domestic product expected to expand by about 4% in 2010, up from 2.2% last year.
Adan Mohamed, managing director

Wahda Bank

Wahda Bank has grown significantly since strategic partner Arab Bank acquired a 19% stake in 2008. Arab Bank has an option to take a majority position in Wahda in the next few years. Wahda’s assets increased by 55% in 2009, while its profits rose 67%. The bank has 76 branches across Libya, two of which opened last year. “We place customer satisfaction at the top of our priorities,” says Selim Ihmouda, general manager of Wahda. “We offer a wide spectrum of both retail and corporate products.” Ihmouda also attributes the bank’s success to the dedication of its employees. “We offer generous pay and benefits, specialized training programs and opportunities for advancement to improve their capabilities,” he says. Wahda installed a new core banking system in 2009 to support its retail, corporate and Islamic banking activities. Wahda is one of three Libyan banks authorized to provide letters of credit on a standby or guarantee basis for development and infrastructure projects. Libya, a major oil and gas producer, has opened to foreign investment in recent years.

Selim K. Ihmouda, general manager


Mauritius Commercial Bank

Mauritius, an island nation off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, has emerged as a regional financial center. Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), the country’s oldest and largest bank, has 42 branches, in addition to subsidiaries in Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles. MCB has the largest market capitalization of any company listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius and accounts for nearly 25% of the total. The bank also accounts for 40% of the country’s bank loans and deposits. Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, expects the country to realize GDP growth of about 4.5% this year, as exports recover. Sugar cane is the chief export earner.
Pierre Guy-Noel, group chief executive officer

Attijariwafa Bank

Attijariwafa Bank, based in Casablanca, is Morocco’s leading bank, with more than 750 branches in the country and 1,396 branches in the group’s international network, which includes countries in northern, central and western Africa, as well as seven European countries. The bank plans to expand further in Africa. Attijariwafa’s earnings rose 26% last year to $472 million, as net interest income and trading and investments showed strong results. Corporate loans rose 8.4% last year. The bank controls more than one-quarter of the lending market in Morocco. In December 2009 Grupo Santander, based in Spain, sold a 10% stake in Attijariwafa but kept a 4.5% remaining holding. Attijariwafa is part of the ONA industrial and financial group.
Mohamed El Kettani, chief executive officer

Millennium BIM

Millennium BIM, Mozambique’s largest bank, with 102 branches, is majority owned by Millennium BCP, based in Portugal. Millennium BIM has a leading market share of about 40% of both loans and deposits of Mozambique’s banking system. It is a universal bank, offering retail, commercial and investment banking services. Millennium BIM also owns SIM, a leading insurance company in Mozambique. The country’s largely agricultural economy is expected to grow about 6% this year. Its largest trading partner is South Africa.
João Figueiredo, vice chairman and CEO

Standard Bank Namibia

Standard Bank Namibia, based in Windhoek, is the country’s oldest and largest bank. It has particular expertise in trade finance and fund management. As part of the pan-African group of South Africa-based Standard Bank, it offers a wide range of financial services to companies and individuals. The bank is installing a new core banking system to improve its efficiency. Standard Bank Namibia’s corporate and investment bank has a significant market share in the public, mining and financial services sectors. Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on mining and is closely linked to that of South Africa.
Mpumzi Pupuma, managing director


As one of the strongest banks in Nigeria, FirstBank benefited from a flight to safety during the financial crisis of the past few years. It has increased its market share and moved into new areas. In a country where two-thirds of the population lacks access to formal banking services and less than 1% uses a bankcard, there is clearly room for further growth. The bank’s deposits rose a remarkable 70.6% last year. In 2009 FirstBank introduced a microfinance bank, which aims to capture a 20% market share. The bank’s previous managing director, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was named governor of the central bank last June. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled in March that the dismissal more than eight years ago of Bernard Longe as FirstBank’s managing director and CEO should be nullified. The court ruled that Longe’s removal did not follow due process.
Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, group managing director and CEO

Banque Commerciale du Rwanda

Banque Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR), based in the capital city of Kigali, was privatized in 2004. Its main shareholder is UK-based private equity group Actis Capital. “Our biggest strength is our loyal and committed client base, spanning across SME [small and medium-size enterprise], retail and corporate segments,” says Sanjeev Anand, managing director. “There is an innovative spirit in our team, which has enabled BCR to lead in the introduction of new products and services in the Rwanda market,” he says. The bank was the first to introduce mortgages, debt syndication, leasing and electronic banking in Rwanda. Overall bank lending in Rwanda declined last year, as banks worked to cleanse their portfolios of non-performing loans. “BCR implemented some difficult actions and has thus emerged as a stronger bank with high solvency and ample liquidity reserves,” Anand says. “Our team is now energized and committed to achieve quantum growth in our performance and to significantly increase shareholder value going forward.”

Sanjeev Anand, managing director


Ecobank Senegal

Dakar-based Ecobank Senegal has seen its assets grow at an average rate of 40% annually over the past five years. In a country where 95% of the population does not have a bank account, there is plenty of room for future growth. The bank focuses on lending to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), and it moved into the retail sector in 2006. It now has 35 branches. Ecobank Senegal is part of Togo-based Ecobank Transnational, which has become the largest pan-African banking network, with operations in 32 countries. Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, exports minerals and agricultural commodities.
Ehouman Kassi, managing director

South Africa
Standard Bank

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank, operates in 39 countries, including 18 in Africa. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) bought a 20% stake in Standard Bank in 2007. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have growing ties with Africa, and Standard Bank is well positioned to take advantage of this trend. Meanwhile, Standard Bank and Deutsche Bank were joint lead managers in March 2010 of a $2 billion 10-year bond, which was the largest global bond issued to date by the Republic of South Africa. Nedbank was co-lead manager. Standard Bank’s earnings fell 17% in 2009 to $1.56 billion, and its lending volume declined by 8%. The bank’s pan-African network gave it exposure to emerging markets that suffered from weak commodity prices last year. Standard Bank has a strong tier 1 capital ratio of about 12%.
Jacko Maree, group chief executive officer

Al Salam Bank Sudan

Sudan is one of the few countries where the entire banking system operates in compliance with shariah law. Al Salam Bank Sudan, which opened its first office in Khartoum in 2005, is part of the Al Salam group of banks, which has its hub in Bahrain and also operates in Algeria. Oil-rich Sudan has begun attracting growing foreign investment since the government signed a peace treaty in 2005 with rebels in the southern part of the country, ending a 21-year civil war. Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, signed a preliminary peace accord with a rebel group in the Darfur region in February 2010. Al Salam Bank offers retail and corporate banking services, in addition to investment and insurance vehicles.
Hussein M. Al Meeza, vice chairman and MD


Ecobank was founded in Togo in 1985 with the vision of becoming the first bank for West Africa. Today, it has 750 branches in 32 African countries, more than any other bank. Not only has it blanketed West Africa, but it also has moved into East Africa and other parts of the continent. In December 2009 Ecobank signed a strategic cooperation agreement with South Africa-based Nedbank. Ecobank also has an alliance with Bank of China to handle business, trade and capital flows between China and Africa. Having completed the geographic expansion of its network, Ecobank is consolidating and reorganizing the group along business lines. These businesses include domestic banking, pan-African corporate banking for multinational and regional companies, and a third unit that groups treasury, investment banking and asset management.
Arnold Ekpe, chief executive officer

Banque de Tunisie

Banque de Tunisie, the oldest bank in Tunisia, is conservatively run and has maintained the high quality of its loan portfolio. It is not the largest bank in the country in terms of assets, but it has a network of 86 branches. Tunisia is encouraging more foreign investment in its oil and gas industry. It is also upgrading its rail system to transport greater quantities of phosphates. The country is a leading exporter of phosphates and fertilizers. It also exports textiles and apparel, with a focus on the European market. Growth in gross domestic product slowed to 3.1% in 2009 from 5% a year earlier.
Alya Abdallah, president-director general

Stanbic Bank Uganda

Stanbic Bank Uganda, the country’s largest bank, is 80%-owned by Standard Bank, based in South Africa. Standard Bank acquired its Ugandan operations in 1991, when it purchased the Grindlays Bank network in Africa. Stanbic Bank Uganda is listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange. The bank’s earnings rose 19% last year to $58 million. Stanbic Bank Uganda focuses on lending to small and medium-size enterprises, as well as mortgage lending. The economy is based primarily on agriculture, but Uganda has significant natural resources, including mineral deposits.
Philip Odera, managing director

Standard Chartered Bank Zambia

Standard Chartered Bank Zambia is the leading bank in the retail and mining sectors in Zambia, where it has been operating for 104 years. It is also the only bank in Zambia to offer financing to farmers based on warehouse receipts. In October 2009 Standard Chartered Bank Zambia introduced the China-Africa Network for small and medium-size enterprises. The service enables SMEs to gain access to branches in China to streamline their trade and cash management processes. The bank’s earnings rose 22% in 2009 to $77 million. Standard Chartered now has 24 branches in Zambia. It introduced a mobile phone banking service last year, as well as extended banking hours, helping it to realize a rise of nearly 15% in deposits.
Mizinga Melu, managing director