The African Banker Awards 2023 Gala Ceremony, the most prestigious event in the African banking calendar, was held on 24 May at Rixos Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings. The ceremony was attended by over 300 of the continent’s leading bankers, regulators, and policymakers from across the continent.
Now in its 17th edition, the African Banker Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Africa’s banking sector over the past year.
Perhaps one of the most coveted prizes of the evening, the African Banker of the Year award, went to Esther Kariuki, head of agriculture business at the Co-op Bank of Kenya. She has been a central figure in advancing agriculture as a key asset class for her institution. Not only a leader and role model, she was also responsible for considerably increasing lending to the agriculture sector and oversaw the roll-out of the platform Co-op Bank Soko, a digital marketplace that connects the agriculture value chain and ensures, among other things, that smallholder farmers receive a higher price for their produce.
Afreximbank scores a brace of awards
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) won two prestigious awards in recognition of its growing leadership within Africa’s financial services sector. The Cairo-based institution was celebrated as both African Bank of the Year and Development Financial Institution of the Year, making it the sole institution to win more than one award during this year’s ceremony.
Afreximbank’s chairman and president, Dr Benedict Oramah, said that the bank had won the award on behalf of all DFIs. “We are all partners. None of this is possible without you and successful collaboration,” he said as he received the award.
The youngest-ever serving governor of Mauritius Central Bank, Harvesh Kumar Seegolam, was awarded Central Bank Governor of the Year. Appointed at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, he leveraged Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) to provide critical financial support to key sectors of the economy by investing in private sector operators. Its latest returns report demonstrated that the investments made through the MIC have increased in value, despite the challenging economic conditions faced.
South African Enoch Godongwana won the Minister of Finance of the Year award. He was rewarded for his steadfast management of the economy as finance minister as well as the work he has done to encourage investment to accelerate the energy transition.
New award recognises women entrepreneurs
The African continent has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world. Letshego Nigeria was awarded the inaugural AFAWA Bank of the Year award, a category spotlighting financial institutions empowering female entrepreneurs across the continent. Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42bn financing gap facing women in the continent.
Private sector financing
The awards ceremony took place on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which focused on mobilising private sector finance towards green growth.
AfDB president, Akinwumi Adesina, drew attention to the way the global financial architecture is failing Africa and developing countries. “There is an urgent need to reform the global financial and debt architecture to reduce the costs, time and legal complications for debt restructuring for African countries,” he told delegates.
He also signalled that for the multilateral financial architecture to be more effective, there is need for greater leverage of private sector financing for development.
The strength of African banking
“This year’s award ceremony is a testament not only to the vibrancy and dynamism of Africa’s banking industry but also its increasing diversity,” Omar Ben Yedder, committee chairman and group publisher at IC Publications, told guests at the awards ceremony. “The financial services industry continues to demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact in their respective markets and regions. Fintech, climate finance, and cross-border payments are all being shaped by the leaders we are recognising today.”
The ceremony is organised by African Banker magazine with the African Development Bank as its High Patron. Sponsors of the 2023 Awards include the African Guarantee Fund, Tanzania’s largest bank, CRDB, and the Trade and Development Bank (TDB).
Full list of winners
Banker of the Year Ms Esther Kariuki – Co-operative Bank of Kenya
Bank of the Year Afreximbank
African Banker Icon Miguel Azevedo, Citi
Lifetime Achievement Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, Commercial International Bank
Central Bank Governor of the Year Harvesh Seegolam, Bank of Mauritius
Minister of Finance of the Year Enoch Godongwana, South Africa
Sustainable Bank of the Year Nedbank, South Africa
Development Financial Institution of the Year Afreximbank
Fintech of the Year MFS Africa
SME Bank of the Year La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), Tunisia
Deal of the Year – Debt Harmony Gold Company syndicated multi-tranche, multi-currency loan facility of $400m and R4bn – Absa & Nedbank
Deal of the Year – Equity $298m Infinity Energy equity investment and Lekela Power acquisition – Africa Finance Corporation
Deal of the Year – Agriculture $78m funding facility for the Southern Oil Structured Commodity Finance Transaction – Absa
Deal of the Year – Infrastructure $900m debt funding facility for Scatec Solar PV plus Battery Storage Project – Standard Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – North Bank of Africa
Regional Bank of the Year – Southern Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco)
Regional Bank of the Year – East CRDB Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – Central Trust Merchant Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – West Vista Bank
AFAWA Bank of the Year Award Letshego, Nigeria
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