The 2020 African Banker Awards: Nigeria’s Access Bank and women scoop top prizes

Virtual ceremony awards institutions for putting women and financial inclusion at the forefront of their agenda.


Herbert Wigwe of Nigeria’s Access Bank was named African Banker of the Year at the 2020 African Banker Awards. This year’s ceremony, held virtually, saw institutions recognised and awarded for putting women and financial inclusion at the forefront of their agenda.

The Awards, held by African Banker Magazine on August 26, are considered the Oscars of the African banking community and the benchmark of excellence in the African banking world.

The award for African Banker of the year was scooped up by Nigerian Access Bank’s Group CEO, Herbert Wigwe. Access Bank ranks among Africa’s top-tier banks, while Wigwe has led the bank’s growth and expansion, and overseen the takeover of Diamond Bank, a bank much larger than Access Bank, less than 15 years ago.

Access Bank also won Agriculture Deal of the Year for its role in helping Singapore commodities trader Olam develop their rice operations in Nigeria.

Women shine

Women also won big at this year’s awards. The Central Bank Governor of the Year award went to Caroline Abel, from the Seychelles and the Finance Minister of the Year went to Nigeria’s Zainab Ahmed. The organisers noted that despite manifold challenges Ms Ahmed pushed through financial reforms and engaged international partners to help the country navigate growing economic crises in the wake of COVID-19.

The African Banker Icon award was handed to Vivien Shobo, who served as 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 for helping to grow a world class organisation that competes against deep-pocketed international players.

Tunisian pioneer Ahmed Abdelkefi won the Lifetime Achievement award for his work founding numerous businesses operating in leasing, brokerage and investment banking. He also founded private equity group Tuninvest, and launched Africinvest, one of Africa’s most successful African-owned PE firms.

Awards reflect AfDB’s High Fives agenda

The African Trade and Development Bank TDB won Bank of the Year after CEO, Admassu Tadesse, won Banker of the Year at last year’s ceremony.

The organisers added a number of awards this year to reflect the AfDB’s High Fives Agenda. The energy deal of the year went to a renewable energy bond structured by Nedbank and infrastructure deal of the year went to the Port of Maputo in a transaction led by Standard Bank.

The SME Bank of the Year award went to Nigeria’s Bank of Industry.

Banks lead the way in post-Covid recovery

Commenting on this year’s Awards, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker said banks would play a leading 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,” he said.

“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.”

The Awards took place virtually on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings, where Dr Akinwumi Adesina was re-elected president of the Bank for a second five-year term.

WATCH the highlights from this year’s awards ceremony 


The 2020 African Banker Award Winners

African Banker of the Year
Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank

Lifetime Achievement Award
Ahmed Abdelkefi, Founder Tunisie Leasing; Tuninvest; Tunisie Valeurs

African Banker Icon
Vivien Shobo, Former CEO Agusto & Co.

African Bank of the Year
Trade and Development Bank (TDB)

Minister of Finance of the Year 
Ms Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance of Nigeria

Central Bank Governor of the Year 
Caroline Abel, Central Bank Governor of Seychelles 

Investment Bank of the Year

Award for Financial Inclusion 
Kenya Women Microfinance

SME Bank of the Year
Bank of Industry, Nigeria

Socially Responsible Bank of the Year 
Equity Bank, Kenya

Innovation in Banking 

Deal of the Year – Equity
MTN Nigeria IPO – Chapel Hill Denham

Deal of the Year – Debt
Bank of Industry €1bn syndicated senior loan facility – Bank of Industry / Afreximbank / Credit Suisse

Infrastructure Deal of the Year 
Port of Maputo – Standard Bank

Energy Project of the Year
Renewable Energy Bond – Nedbank

Agri Deal of the Year
Olam Rice Farm – Access Bank

Regional Bank of the Year
East Africa – Equity Bank
West Africa – Coris
North Africa – CIB, Egypt
Southern Africa – Moza Banco
Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon

For more on the African Banker Awards, visit: 

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