Six out of Africa’s top 10 banks are based in North Africa. They have flourished despite volatile exchange rates, inflation, falling investment, and even food shortages and high prices after supplies from Ukraine and Russia were disrupted by war. No bank in the regional top 20 table showed net losses, although some had lower net profits compared to the 2022 ranking.
Banking in Egypt remains dominated by National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr. Pressures on the banks include their large holdings of government debt as Egypt slips towards a sovereign debt crisis, which could hurt both domestic and foreign lenders to the government. It is also hard to access foreign currency, and the banks have a giant foreign assets deficit; but the government has only limited capacity to intervene in a repayment crisis.
The turmoil does not show in the eerie calm of the top banks regional table, partly because the figures used to rank #1 National Bank of Egypt and #2 Banque Misr are still from December 2021, as in last year’s ranking, and so were not affected by the slide in the exchange rate for Egypt’s pound.
Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank (#3 in the region) and Banque Centrale Populaire (#4) are unchanged from the year before, based on results published in December 2022 – which show Tier 1 capital of $5.4bn (down from $5.9bn) and $4.7bn (down from $5bn) respectively, largely in line with the 11% decline in the dirham against the dollar over the period. Profits are up, with Attjariwafa scoring $714m in net profit (up from $666m) and BCP $336m (up from $295m).
Banque Extérieure d’Algérie and Banque Nationale d’Algérie are ranked on December 2021 figures (last year on 2020 figures) and they displaced Egypt’s Commercial International Bank and Morocco’s Bank of Africa – BMCE Group from the #5 and #6 rankings. Algeria’s six biggest banks are state-owned and hold between 90% and 95% of the banking assets in an opaque sector still largely avoiding technical advance, in an economy where cash is still king.
In 2021, agency IHS Markit rated the banks in Algeria and Tunisia as “very high risk”. In Algeria this is partly because 51% of banking loans are to state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including enterprises in oil and gas, construction and tourism. In April 2023, Fitch upgraded the operating environment score for Tunisian banks to “CCC+” in line with improvements of the country’s sovereign rating.
Tier 1 capital at Banque Exterieure d’Algérie climbed from $3.2bn to $3.6bn and profits moved from $519m to $516m, compared to a 1.15% appreciation of the dinar against the dollar over 2021. Tier 1 capital at Banque Nationale d’Algérie slipped back from $3.1bn to $3bn and profits climbed from $174m to $336m.
Tunisia’s second bank in the regional ranking is Banque Nationale Agricole (#19) with Tier 1 capital of $676m, assets of $6.9bn and net profits of $63m. The #20 spot goes to Crédit du Maroc with Tier 1 capital of $614m, net assets of $6.4bn and profits of $68m.
Read our full report on Africa’s Top 100 Banks in 2023
The regional Top 20
The Top 100 Banks survey ranks Africa’s banks according to their Tier 1 capital. This consists of: capital + reserves + retained earnings + minority interests. These are published in local currencies and then converted into US dollars at the exchange rates at the year-end date in the results (or on 31 December 2022), so changing FX rates can affect the ranking.
We collect the data from Bankers’ Almanac, Moody’s Analytics BankFocus and the in-house research of African Business, excluding some banks where data is old or unreliable. The table below lists the Top 20 banks in the North African region along with their positions in the continental ranking.
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