World’s Best Banks: Africa Country Winners


Fast-Growing Continent Offers Huge Potential And Significant Risks

Africa is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas and minerals, which are in growing demand as the global economy expands. The continent seems likely to outperform the developed economies in the years ahead. It also offers the opportunity for bankers to extend services to millions of people who have no bank accounts.

Rising oil and commodity prices will feed investment-led growth in Africa, as long as the global economy remains healthy. However, a number of African countries are facing enormous political risks. The political uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have greatly increased economic uncertainty.

In West Africa, Côte D’Ivoire has been caught up in a political crisis since last year’s disputed presidential election. Violence has flared and dozens of people have been killed, while most banks have suspended operations. In Nigeria, the banking system is still reeling from a crisis in 2009 that forced the government to pump more than $4 billion into nine troubled banks to cover bad debts.

The large South African economy, which dominates sub-Saharan Africa, has been slow to recover from its first recession in decades. However, economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2010, as mining and manufacturing rebounded in response to demand from China. Growing trade with China and the rest of Asia is providing an important lift to the economies of East Africa, as well.

Regional W inners

Standard Chartered Bank

London-based emerging-markets bank Standard Chartered delivered record profits for an eighth consecutive year in 2010. Net earnings jumped 29% to $4.2 billion last year, while nonperforming loans were slashed by more than half. Standard Chartered receives more than 90% of its income and profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

“By combining our global reach with our local expertise, Standard Chartered has been leading the way in introducing innovative new products and services to our 14 African markets to match the increasingly sophisticated requirements of our clients and customers,” says V. Shankar, CEO for the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe at Standard Chartered Bank. “Present in Africa since 1863, we have consistently demonstrated an unrivaled commitment to our people, customers, clients, communities, investors and regulators for nearly 150 years,” Shankar says. Standard Chartered has made continuous efforts to strengthen its leadership role in Africa, which is core to the group’s strategy, Shankar says. The bank achieved double-digit income growth across most of its African markets last year.


“Standard Chartered has been leading the way in introducing innovative new products and services”

“We have consistently demonstrated an unrivaled commitment” – V. Shankar, CEO for the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and

Europe, Standard Chartered Bank

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

Country Winners



Arab Banking Corporation Algeria

Arab Banking Corporation Algeria opened six new branches in 2010, expanding its network by 50%. The universal bank is a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corporation (ABC). The Central Bank of Libya owns 59.3% of ABC, and the Kuwait Investment Authority holds a 29.6% stake in the bank. ABC 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. According to the US and UK treasury departments, orders blocking Libyan assets do not apply to financial institutions that are organized under the laws of a country other than Libya. The ABC Group profit for 2010 rose 17% to $143 million.

Ahmed Redha Kara-Terki, CEO


Banco Espírito Santo Angola

Banco Espírito Santo Angola (BESA) has 28 branches in Angola, a country that derives most of its export earnings from oil and diamonds. BESA is a subsidiary of Portugal-based Banco Espírito Santo, which in December 2009 sold a 24% interest to Portmill Investments, an Angola-based institutional investor. Established in 2001, toward the end of Angola’s 27-year civil war, BESA was the first bank to offer private banking services in the country. Unesco named BESA the Official Bank of Planet Earth in recognition of its support for sustainable development. In March 2011, Álvaro Sobrinho, the banks’s CEO, was elected chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, which is based in London and has a center in Luanda.

Álvaro Sobrinho, CEO


Standard Chartered Bank Botswana

Founded in 1897, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana is the country’s oldest and largest bank. Botswana is the world’s largest diamond producer but it is a sparsely populated, middle-income country. It is attempting to diversify its economy by promoting diamond processing and safari-based tourism. In part because of that initiative, the banking industry is an increasingly important sector of the economy. Standard Chartered serves both retail and corporate customers in Botswana with a network of 18 branches and agencies. In 1975 some 25% of its shares were listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange.

Michael Wiegand, acting CEO

Democratic Republic of Congo

Standard Bank Congo

Kinshasa-based 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, and the upper end of the domestic commercial market. The mineral-rich country has some of the world’s biggest copper and cobalt deposits. Its economy is benefiting from a revival in the mining and construction industries.

Jean Rey, managing director


International Commercial Bank–Djibouti

Strategically located on the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is one of 10 countries in Africa that are served by the ICB Financial Group Holdings, which is incorporated in Switzerland and listed on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange. ICB Global Management, based in Malaysia, provides support services to members of the ICB Banking Group. ICB-Djibouti’s earnings rose 240% last year. Overlooking the Gulf of Aden where it connects to the Red Sea, Djibouti is the only sub-Saharan African country to host a US military base.

Podila V.S. Phanindra, CEO


Nib International Bank

Nib International Bank (NIB) operates a network of 44 branches, 27 of which are located in the capital city of Addis Ababa. The bank took a number of steps last year to increase lending to coffee farmers. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee producer. In September 2010, NIB signed an agreement with the IFC, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, to reach more small-scale coffee cooperatives. NIB and the IFC are collaborating with TechnoServe, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to provide technical assistance through the development of wet mills to process coffee beans.  Last November, NIB signed an agreement with the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange to enable producers and traders of agricultural commodities to pledge warehouse receipts to obtain working capital.

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 there. The bank derives a substantial proportion of its earnings from foreign exchange trading. In November 2009, it opened a new dealing room in Banjul for currencies, commodities and derivatives. The bank has five branches in Gambia and employs more than 150 people. Gambia lacks significant mineral or other natural resources. The economy is largely founded on agriculture, although tourism is becoming an increasingly important contributor to Gambia’s foreign exchange earnings.

Humphrey Mukwereza, CEO


Ghana Commercial Bank

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), Ghana’s largest bank, has a network of 157 branches. It was the first bank in Ghana to offer MasterCard services. In March 2011, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded GCB’s ratings by one notch to B1, citing the bank’s perpetually high exposure to government and public sector debt. The rating agency added, however, that GCB’s improved financial fundamentals and the gradual improvement in overall operating conditions are expected to support the bank’s current ratings. Moody’s says the bank’s outlook is stable and that the recently announced settlement of the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery’s loans, and their conversion into long-term government bonds, is expected to have a positive impact on GCB’s asset quality and liquidity position. The bank has achieved significan performance gains recently and saw its earnings rise by 57% in 2010.

Simon Dornoo, managing director


International Commercial Bank Guinea

International Commercial Bank Guinea, founded in 1997, has four branches. It is part of ICB Financial Group Holdings, which is based in Switzerland and 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 also owns banks in Eastern Europe and Asia. Guinea exports bauxite and alumina, iron ore, gold and diamonds.

Ananta Padmanabhan, CEO


Barclays Bank of Kenya

Barclays Bank Kenya is the leading retail and commercial bank in this East African nation, which enacted a new constitution last year. Barclays, a UK-based bank, has operated in Kenya for 90 years. The bank has 115 branches and 236 ATMs in Kenya, which has a largely agricultural economy. Tea is the main export crop, while manufacturing, tourism and financial services are growing in importance. Barclays Bank Kenya is a leading company on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Its earnings rose by 51% in 2010, helped by the sale of its custody business. There is growing confidence in the Kenyan economy, with most sectors registering declining credit risk, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.

Adan Mohamed, managing director


Mauritius Commercial Bank

Mauritius, an island nation off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, is a regional financial center and a bridge between Asia and Africa. Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), the country’s oldest and largest bank, was established in 1838. It has 42 branches, in addition to subsidiaries in Madagascar, Mozambique and the Seychelles. MCB has the largest market capitalization of any company listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. The bank also accounts for 40% of the country’s bank loans and deposits. Sugar cane remains the main export of this middle-income country with an increasingly diversified economy.

Pierre Guy-Noel, group CEO


Attijariwafa Bank

Attijariwafa Bank, based in Casablanca, is Morocco’s largest bank with more than 750 branches in the country and 1,400 branches in the group’s international network, which includes countries in northern, central and western Africa, as well as seven European countries. The bank controls more than one-quarter of the lending market in Morocco. It opened its first branch in Mauritania in February. Attijariwafa is part of the ONA industrial and financial group, which merged at the end of last year with Société Nationale d’Investissement.

Mohamed El Kettani, CEO


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 economy is largely agricultural, and its largest trading partner is South Africa. Mozambique remains one of the world’s poorest countries, despite recent foreign investments in the mining sector.

João Figueiredo Jr., vice chairman and CEO


Standard Bank Namibia

Standard Bank Namibia, based in Windhoek, is the country’s oldest and largest bank, with 126 branches. As part of the pan-African Standard Bank Group, it offers a wide range of financial services to companies and individuals. Standard Bank Namibia’s corporate and investment bank has a significant market share in the public, mining and financial services sectors. It is planning to sell a minority stake of about 20% to local investors, under pressure from the central bank. Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on mining and is closely linked to that of South Africa.

Mpumzi Pupuma, managing director



FirstBank was incorporated in Liverpool, England, in 1894 as the Bank for British West Africa. It was locally incorporated in 1969 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971. The bank has an international presence, with offices in London, Paris, Johannesburg and Beijing. In December 2010, the Central Bank of Nigeria allowed FirstBank to begin offering mobile-payment services. Well-capitalized FirstBank has benefited from a flight to safety following the country’s banking crisis of 2009. Nigeria’s state asset-management company, Amcon, functions as a “bad bank” to absorb nonperforming loans and recapitalize nine lenders bailed out by the central bank. Oil and gas account for 98% of the country’s export earnings. Nigeria remains Africa’s largest oil producer, although Angola is catching up and by some estimates now rivals Nigeria.

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, with the government keeping a 20% stake. The bank’s main shareholder is UK-based private equity group Actis. With 13 branches, BCR concentrates on lending to small and medium-size enterprises and retail banking, including home mortgages. Rwanda is a country with few natural resources. The mountain gorilla is the country’s main tourist attraction. The economy is based mainly on subsistence agriculture.

Sanjeev Anand, managing director


CBAO Attijariwafa Bank

CBAO Attijariwafa Bank is Senegal’s largest bank, with a 29% market share and 49 branches. In December 2008, Attijariwafa Bank Senegal acquired more than 79% of Dakar-based CBAO, or the Banking Company of West Africa. Morocco-based Attijariwafa Bank is expanding into under-banked markets of sub-Saharan Africa. Some 95% of the people of Senegal have no bank account. The country relies heavily on donor assistance. Its main exports are fertilizer, cement and fish. Senegal is working to develop an oil industry.

Abdelkrim Raghni, managing director

Sierra Leone

International Commercial Bank–Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is one of 10 African countries with banks owned by the ICB Banking Group, based in Switzerland. ICB Sierra Leone saw its earnings rise by 174% last year. The bank sticks to the basics of banking by gathering deposits at low cost and lending to sound companies and projects. Sierra Leone has significant mineral, agricultural and fishery resources, but it remains a poor country with substantial income inequality. The country’s infrastructure still has not fully recovered from a devastating civil war that ended in 2002. Oil was discovered offshore last year, but it will take time to develop a petroleum industry.

Viswanathan Sundaram, CEO

South Africa

Standard Bank South Africa

Standard Bank South Africa is rooted in Africa with strategic representation in key sub-Saharan and other emerging markets. It operates in 32 countries, including 17 in Africa. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) bought a 20% stake in Standard Bank in 2007. “Standard Bank has been through an incredibly tough period, and this award is an acknowledgment of the hard work and commitment of all our employees, who are devoted to serving our clients and thereby helping to ensure that Standard Bank remains the leading player in the South African market,” says Sim Tshabalala, chief executive. “Standard Bank remains a solid, stable and well-capitalized bank.”


Although the South African economy has been slow to recover from its first recession in 17 years, Africa remains at Standard Bank’s core. It is counting on a rebound in commodity prices to spur economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. The bank’s main economic sectors for lending include mining and metals, oil and gas, power and agriculture.

Sim Tshabalala, CEO


Al Salam Bank Sudan

Al Salam Bank’s earnings rose by almost two-thirds last year to $14.5 million after taxes and zakat, or donations to the poor. 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, a financial institution that has its hub in Bahrain and also operates in Algeria. Southern Sudan plans to introduce its own currency, to be known as the pound, when it declares independence in July. The new nation of Southern Sudan will control about three-quarters of Sudan’s current oil production.

Hussein M. Al Meeza, vice chairman and managing director



Ecobank was founded in Togo in 1985 and it now has 750 branches in 32 African countries, more than any other bank. Sandwiched between Ghana and Benin, the Togolese Republic, as it is officially known, serves as a regional commercial and trade center in West Africa, with Lome as its hub. The country’s main exports include cotton, coffee and cocoa. In December 2009, Ecobank signed a strategic cooperation agreement with South Africa–based Nedbank. Having completed the geographic expansion of its network in Africa, Ecobank is consolidating and reorganizing the group along business lines.

Arnold Ekpe, CEO


Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie

Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT) is the largest private sector bank in Tunisia, with 121 branches, plus an office in Libya. Three of its branches were damaged during the Jasmine Revolution, which led to the ousting of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January and sparked a series of political uprisings across the MENA region. BIAT’s earnings rose 18.2% in 2010, and its loans outstanding rose by 11.6%. Tunisia has a diverse economy with a strong services sector, as well as significant agricultural, mining, manufacturing and petroleum industries.

Slaheddine Ladjimi, general manager


Stanbic Bank Uganda

Kampala-based Stanbic Bank Uganda is the country’s largest bank, with 79 branches. It is 80%-owned by Standard Bank, based in South Africa, and is one of 16 firms listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange. Stanbic Bank Uganda is deepening its extension of credit to the agricultural sector. In the past it has focused on lending to small and medium enterprises, as well as on mortgage lending. Meanwhile, Uganda is attempting to become a major oil exporter. The government is expected to approve a $10 billion program to develop a major oil find and to construct a refinery and pipeline to the Indian Ocean.

Philip Odera, managing director


Standard Chartered Bank Zambia

Standard Chartered Bank Zambia is one of the largest banks in the country, with a market share of about 20%. It has been operating in Zambia for 105 years. Zambia’s economy benefited from record-high copper prices and a bumper corn crop in 2010, which helped it rebound strongly after the global economic downturn. Standard Chartered Bank arranged a $140 million syndicated loan to the Food Reserve Agency to buy more corn from small-scale farmers. Standard Chartered is the only bank in Zambia to offer financing to farmers based on warehouse receipts.

Mizinga Melu, managing director

alt The World Best Banks 2011: Country Winners