Southern Africa’s Top Banks in 2023

Standard Bank continues to dominate the listings in our 2023 ranking of Southern Africa's Top 20 banks, while Nedbank climbs from #4 to #2, overtaking FirstRand and Absa.


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South Africa has a much larger economy than any of its regional neighbours and South Africa’s banks dominate the regional listing with six banks at the top of the regional rankings.

Standard Bank Group is Africa’s top bank, well ahead of its rivals with net profit of $2.3bn in the year to December 2022, up from $1.8bn a year earlier.

Standard Bank Group is active in many rapidly expanding economies and is riding the financial technology wave, with strong expertise in new digital channels and partnerships to help it reach people who had not previously had sufficient access to banking.

The bank has strong financial resources and has modernised its infrastructure and is looking to continue growing market share in the markets where it is not already number 1.

According to the March 2023 announcement of results for financial year 2022: “The top six contributors to Africa Regions headline earnings were Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia. Africa Regions contributed 36% to FY22 group headline earnings.”

In August 2023 Standard Bank signed a new five-year strategic cooperation partnership with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). It says that the partnership facilitated $600m of trade flows in 2022 between Africa and its biggest trading partner, China. ICBC is the biggest shareholder, with 19.4% of Standard Bank’s shares.

A reshuffle comes further down the table as Tier 1 capital at Nedbank climbs to $5.9bn (up from $5.1bn in its December 2021 figures used for last year’s rankings) and moves up from #4 regionally to #2, displacing FirstRand (Tier 1 capital down from $6.5bn to $5.5bn) and Absa Bank, whose Tier 1 capital is down from $5.7bn to $5.3bn. The situation may change in next year’s survey, however, as assets, profits and return on equity are lower at Nedbank than at FirstRand.

Mauritius, with one of the most developed banking markets in Africa, has five banks in the regional top 20, headed by Mauritius Commercial Bank with Tier 1 capital of $1.3bn (#7 in the region), based on the same financial results as were used for the 2022 ranking. State Bank of Mauritius (#12 in the region) had Tier 1 capital of $423m in December 2021. Investec (up one at #14 in the region) had Tier 1 capital of $411m.

Angola has three banks in the 2023 table, headed by Banco Angolano de Investimentos (#10 in the region, with Tier 1 capital of $503m) and Banco de Fomento Angola (#11 in the region, with $482m). Banco de Poupança e Crédito, which was at #8 in last year’s regional ranking with Tier 1 capital of $941m, dropped out this year after it reported a net loss of $802m in December 2020.

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 Southern African region along with their positions in the continental ranking.

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Tom Minney

Tom is a freelance journalist and consultant with expertise in strategy, capital markets, emerging technology and finance for development.