West and Central Africa’s Top Banks in 2023

Nigerian banks continue to dominate our 2023 ranking of West and Central Africa's Top Banks in a year when profits have declined across the region.


Image : Adobe Stock / William

As expected of Africa’s biggest economy, Nigerian banks continue to dominate the regional ranking. Tier 1 capital at Zenith Bank edged up from $2.52bn in December 2021 to $2.58bn in December 2022, although assets grew strongly from $22.9bn to $27.4bn and the growth in both was stronger measured in naira.

Access Bank sees its Tier 1 capital up from $2.2bn to $2.4bn and assets up from $28.5bn to $33.4bn. Guaranty Trust Bank slips back two places to #5 in the regional ranking, based on its December 2022 figures. However, First Bank of Nigeria (#3) and Togo’s Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (#4) are still ranked on December 2021 figures and dollar exchange rates.

The biggest regional trend is the decline in profitability across nearly all the banks, with net profit at Zenith Bank down from $594m to $500m, Access Bank down from $389m to $347m and Guaranty Trust Bank sliding from $425m to $378m. Two banks in the regional table are loss-making: Ghana Commercial Bank turned $93m profit in 2021 to $58m net loss in the year to December 2022; and Absa Bank (Ghana) slid from $113m profit to $42m loss in the same period.

Business conditions have been hard in Nigeria and in Ghana. Competition between banks and fintech firms is notable in Nigeria, one of Africa’s three tech hubs alongside Kenya and South Africa. Some of the rising fintech stars include platforms for making loans to consumers and to small businesses, winning customers who find getting loans at banks to be expensive and often difficult to access.

Other platforms seek to digitalise mortgages, insurance, payments and wealth management, according to a report by consultants PwC. Banks with weak digital strategies are most at risk. By contrast, some banks are collaborating with fintechs, building their platforms into their services to clients.

A leading fintech disruptor is Flutterwave, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Lagos and San Francisco. It operates in some 30 African countries. It aims to make it easier for African businesses to make and accept any payment and to help global companies such as Uber Technologies and Booking.com expand into Africa. A funding round in January 2022 valued Flutterwave at $3bn.

Last year the solo loss-maker in the regional ranking was Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest bank, Rawbank SA, controlled by the Rawji family, which was ranked #20 in the regional table with Tier 1 capital of $231m based on its December 2020 figures.

This year it is displaced at the bottom of the regional table by Ghana’s. Absa Bank, with Tier 1 capital of $251m, assets of $1.7bn and a loss of $42m, based on December 2022 figures. Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) now joins the ranks of loss-makers at #19, with Tier 1 capital of $253m, assets of $2.1bn and a loss of $58m – down from #15 with a profit of $93m in last year’s table.

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 West and Central 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.