ADDIS ABABA – Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank Nigeria, was named African Banker of the Year at the 2021 African Banker Awards, beating six other top officials in the sector including Ethiopian banker Admassu Tadesse.
The Awards, held virtually by African Banker Magazine on June 23, have become the most respected and recognised industry event celebrating African banking achievements since 2013.
Admassu, president and CEO of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), was among the seven top bankers vying for the top prize – African Banker of the Year.
He was also the only representative of Ethiopia whose financial institutions failed to appear in any categories of the African Banker Awards 2021.
In a statement sent to The Monitor, the organizers said the major award, African Banker of the year, was scooped up by Nigerian Access Bank’s Group CEO, Herbert Wigwe.
The winner is announced during the Annual meetings of the African Development Bank, the event’s High patron, which are taking place virtually between 23rd and 25th June.
The award organizers, this time, put an emphasis to recognize and reward institutions that contributed to the real economy which has suffered from the impact of Covid-19 as well as contributed to women empowerment on the continent.
Morocco’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Mohammed Benchaâboun, won Finance Minister of the Year. He was recognized for the exceptional work of his ministry which coordinated an exemplary response to the economic impact from the crisis, helping to protect both lives and livelihoods.
The fiscal stimulus provided has cushioned the impact of the pandemic in Morocco, said the organizers, adding that Benchaâboun’s office managed to crowd in both public and private sector resources that were used to support the most needy.
The Central Bank Governor of the year was taken by Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa.
Under his leadership, the Reserve Bank has managed to act decisively but also, the Committee noted, in a measured way, managing both upside and downside risk, according to the magazine.
Charlie Robertson, chief economist at international investment bank Renaissance Capital won the African Banker icon category.
In a remark to the Banker Magazine, Robertson he noted that it was important to drive up savings rates to help spur greater investments on the continent, if Africa is to replicate the Asian miracle.
Standard Bank Group of South Africa earned African Bank of 2021 while Kenya’s Equity Bank named the best East African Bank Award.
Attijariwafa Bank of Morocco, Banque de Développement du Mali, BGFI of Gabon, nd Mozabanco, Mozambique won best bank awards of North, West, Central and South regions, respectively
Organisers are impressed with this year’s entries in all of the 12 categories.
“It showed that the banking sector is healthy and resilient which will be critical if it is to support the economic recovery post-COVID,” said Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher of African Banker.
“What will be fundamental to our recovery is the support of the real economy, especially SMEs, and also a focus on more equity investments and investments in general. For that, as our African Banker Icon suggested, we will also need to increase our savings rate across the continent”.
The list of this year’s winners dominated by men.
“However I should add that the institutions that were recognized in our ceremony all had strong gender programs, both in terms of supporting women-led businesses but also strong programs to promote women and have women leaders within their organisations,” the publisher said.
Other winners the 2021 Africa Bankers Award includes,
Category: Sustainable bank of the year
Commercial International Bank (CIB) Egypt
Category: Infrastructure deal of the year
Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway $1.46bn loan facility
Nedbank | Standard Chartered | TDB
Category: Deal of the year – Equity
Privatisation of Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Ltd
Category: Deal of the year – Debt
African Export-Import Bank, COVID-19 Support Facility
MUFG Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Award for financial inclusion
Trust Merchant Bank, DRC
Category: African Banker Icon
Charlie Robertson, Chief Economist, Renaissance Capital
Category: Award for Innovation for Financial Services
Bank of Industry, Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme
Category: Energy deal of the year
Nkhotakota Solar Power Plant in Malawi / 7.5 MW Solar PV Power Plant in Burundi
African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)
Category: Agriculture deal of the year
USD 400m Revolving Trade Finance Facility in favour of ETC Group
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)
Category: African SME Bank of the Year
Category: Investment Bank of the Year
This year’s award ceremony also honoured Felix Bikpo with the Life Achievement Award for his long and distinguished career.
When asked for his outlook on the future of the Africa, Bikpo remained upbeat saying technological developments and also the human capabilities that we have developed in Africa are cause for optimism.
Featured Image: Herbert Wigwe of Nigeria’s Access Bank [Photo File/Twitter]