Financial institutions all over the world suffered major losses due to the global pandemic in 2020. Many banks struggled with the ensuing financial crisis and had to come up with strategies to survive. With the African economy taking the hardest hit, African banks were faced with a cruel fate. Nevertheless, renowned management consulting firm Mckinsey predicts an optimistic turn of events for banks in Africa. Based on their analysis, Mckinsey predicts a recovery to the pre-crisis level among banks in Africa by 2023.
Furthermore, the report shows a better return on equity (ROE) by banks in Africa compared to their counterparts in more developed nations. According to the Global Finance Magazine, African Banks through innovation and risk assessment managed to stay afloat during the pandemic. This is in line with Mckinsey’s 3 imperatives (productivity, risk management, and scaling up technology) needed for banks to survive the pandemic.
About The Global Finance Magazine
Global Finance Magazine was founded in 1987 and headquartered in New York. With readers in 163 countries, the Global Finance Magazine has become an authority figure in the financial sector. It provides insights and analysis that are valuable tools to aid multinational corporations and financial institutions make better decisions. Each year, the magazine publishes a list of the Best Banks in every region across the globe. And with its high standard of excellence, these awards are accepted all around the world.
What it takes to make the list
In Africa, the fight for dominance and survival by financial institutions is tough. However, the stiff competition has a positive impact on the African financial sector. To remain relevant, banks in Africa are quick to embrace new technologies and diversify their services. This has helped them build resilience and an appetite for growth and innovation which is one of the criteria used by the GF magazine in its rankings.
This year, African banks that made the list are those that focused on expanding their range of services and solutions, growing their market share, and looking out for attractive partnership or acquisition opportunities. In this article, we highlight the best banks according to the GF magazine.
There are two major categories in which the banks are classified namely the multi-regional and the regional category. The multi-regional category as the name suggests comprises banks that are recognized in more than one region in the continent. Regional banks are those that are well known in just one region (although in multiple countries) of Africa. With that being said, here are the best banks in Africa that made the GFM list in 2021.
BEST MULTI-REGIONAL BANK/ BEST BANK IN AFRICA
#1. Standard Bank of South Africa
Despite a headline decline in earnings of 43% due to COVID-19, Standard Bank of South Africa clinched its title as the best bank in Africa and South Africa in two consecutive years. Between 2019 and 2020, the bank’s earnings dropped from $1.8 billion to $1 billion and its return on equity (ROE) fell to 8.9% from 16.8%. Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the bank was already facing a severe financial crisis at home, which forced the bank to restructure 10.3 billion dollars worth of loans.
To compensate for this, the bank had to increase its provision by 43% and this won’t be possible without its strong capital buffer says CEO Sim Tshabalala. Tshabalala further expressed optimism in the African financial market, saying that the bank will continue to expand its services and solutions in the sector, throughout the region. It is no wonder the bank tops the list as the best bank in Africa.
BEST MULTI-COUNTRY BANK
This category falls between the best bank/best multi-regional category and the regional category. For a bank to win in this category, it must come up as the best bank in several countries in the region. But not enough countries to give it the coveted spot of best bank/best multi-regional bank. For this category, only one bank made it and that’s the Societe Generale Bank. This makes it the second-best bank in Africa.
#2. Societe Generale
The Societe Generale bank is a European bank with a long history of operational excellence in Africa. It is among the top three banks in many African markets with a customer base of 4 million. It operates in 19 African countries and holds the position of the best bank in 5 of these countries. These are Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea, Madagascar, and Senegal.
Despite facing stiff competition from local banks as well as economic crisis, the bank managed to scale through by focusing on innovation and transformation. Additionally, being a key player in specific sectors like agriculture, mining, energy, and infrastructure was a major advantage. Through this strategy the bank has carved a niche for itself in the African market, playing a central role in its growth and development.
BEST REGIONAL BANKS
This category highlights the best banks in each of the five regions of Africa; West Africa, South Africa, North Africa, East Africa, and North Central Africa. The banks mentioned in this category are the best in at least one country in the region. This list follows no particular order.
#3. Pan-African Ecobank
Ecobank is named as the best bank in two West African countries and these are Equatorial Guinea and the Gambia. Its strategy has been to focus on digital transformation and this has improved its service delivery, making it an attractive option for new customers. Ecobank also embarks on entrepreneurship projects for women and is on the lookout for fresh opportunities in agriculture, financial trade, and remittances.
#4. Bank of Africa
This bank came out first place in two African countries—the Benin Republic and Morocco. However, the bank is operational in 20 other African countries. In the Benin Republic, the bank was able to beat the competition by carving a niche for itself in the SME sector. It also holds a 25% share in customer deposits and has an asset of over 1.7 billion dollars in the country. In Morocco, the Bank of Africa has an asset estimated to be worth about 35.3 billion dollars. Also, it scored some major points by being the first Moroccan bank with a representative office in China.
#5. United Bank for Africa
Through excellence in customer service and innovative digital solutions, the United Bank For Africa became the best bank in Burkina Faso. Amidst tight competition in the West African country, this bank has proven that indeed the customer is the heart of a business.
#6. Caixa Economica
Cape Verde’s national bank Caixa Economic is a worthy opponent for private banks in the region. It has an asset worth 833.6 million dollars and over 360,000 customers. The state-owned bank is said to have raked in 10 million in profits and an ROE of 20.1% within a year. Making it a top contender in the region, even amongst private banks.
#7. Bridge Bank
Coming up as the best bank in Cote d’Ivoire, Bridge Bank owes its success to innovation and risk management. While many other financial institutions struggled during the pandemic, Bridge Bank was making incredible strides. The bank successfully hit the 1 billion dollars milestone with a profit of 30% and an ROE of 24%. At a time when most other bank’s fortune dwindled, Bridge Bank was embarking on regional expansion. Its next frontier is Senegal.
#8. GCB Ghana
In the first half of 2020 alone, GCB Bank reported a 15 million dollar increase in profit and 9.3% NPLs. Its newly appointed CEO, John Kofu Adomakoh promised to increase its market share, revenue and profits. We may just be witnessing a fulfillment of this promise as the GCB bank builds on its strong foundation under the new leadership.
#9. Banque Atlantique
Another top-performing African bank is Banque Atlantic and it made this year’s list of best banks in Africa by enhancing its security infrastructure. This has improved the security of its transactions in addition to becoming a digital solution driver. For these reasons, it is named the best bank in the West African country of Mali.
#10. Zenith Bank
Innovation remains the chief interest of Zenith Bank which has remained at the top spot in Nigeria, despite the tough competition. Zenith Bank has indicated an interest in a broad category of innovative areas like blockchain, AI, and the Cloud. It reported asset stands at $20.6 billion and $1.3 billion in gross earning between 2020 and 2021.
#11. Sierra Leone Commercial Bank
This is another state-owned bank that made the list. The Sierra Leone Commercial bank is aiming for better financial inclusion. To achieve its goal, the bank is aggressively pushing to improve its digital presence by providing online and mobile banking options for its customers.
In Togo, Orabank scored first place by leveraging on the digital revolution of the country. Orabank like many other banks in Africa has seen the growth and readiness to embrace digitization in the continent. Seizing this opportunity, the bank is providing innovative financial services to its over 115,000 customers.
#13. Banco Angolano de Investimentos
The Angolan oil and gas financier Banco Angolano de Investimentos is the best bank in Angola. Its success is hedged on the fact that it has a controlling stake in a key sector of the economy, the oil and gas sector. Banco Angolano de Investimentos has over 3.6 billion dollars in assets with about 1.2 million customers.
#14. First Capital Bank Botswana
Emerging as the best bank in Botswana, First Capital Bank increased its asset by 27% in just a year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this feat, the bank made significant strides in its mobile and internet banking. Little wonder it is able to grow so fast considering that this form of banking became a necessity during the pandemic.
#15. Absa Bank Mauritius
With the launch of its first humanoid robot “Abby”, it goes without saying that Absa bank is focused on innovation and digitization. The bank continues to make strides in this direction as shown by its strong ratings in its home country. Its ROE for the past year was competitive at 17%, considering the impact of the pandemic.
#16. Banco BCI
The best bank in Mozambique, Banco BCI is not showing any sign of slowing down. In the past year, the bank has steadily grown its assets and market share in the country. This is evident in the fact that it launched two new branches and invested in IT, thereby diversifying its portfolio.
#17. First National Bank Of Namibia
The First National Bank of Namibia held onto the top position despite seeing a 23.2% decline in its profits. With a market cap of 578 million dollars, the bank also has a strong capital and liquidity base. These among other factors helped it brave the challenges of the pandemic to emerge as the top bank in Namibia.
#18. Zanaco Bank
The past year has been a good one for the Zambian bank, Zanaco. It saw its income rise to 105.9 million dollars. This will likely continue to increase as the bank is making a move for the retail sector, after an initial entry into microfinance.
#19. CBZ Bank
Among the banks mentioned on the list, CBZ bank of Zimbabwe has the highest ROE of 121% in the past year. And this massive turnout is sending ripples throughout the banking sector. Taking a closer look, this may not be surprising because the bank controls a large majority of the country’s banking deposits.
#20. Bank Of Khartoum
The Bank of Khartoum stands out from the crowd by offering banking services in line with Islamic banking rules. It is also the oldest bank in Sudan and has the widest network with over 140 branches.
#21. CAC International Bank
The Eastern African bank emerged as the winner in Djibouti. CAC was the first bank in the country to embrace digitalization with the introduction of its e-banking and mobile banking platforms. The bank realized an 18% growth in assets and a 16% growth in ROE. However, NPLs remained low at 6%.
#22. Trade And Development Bank
This is the best bank in Ethiopia according to the Global Finance Magazine. It is said to have an asset worth about 7 billion dollars and most of its activities revolve around private project funding.
#23. KCB Bank Kenya
The Kenyan bank recorded a decline in profit of 22% and still managed to maintain its position as the best bank in Kenya. The bank aims to secure its position through acquisitions, according to its CEO Joshua Oigara.
#24. Bank Of Kigali
The Bank of Kigali has also maintained its stronghold in Rwanda. Controlling about 16% of the market share, the Bank of Kigali boasts over 1.2 billion dollars in assets. And offers services to its 600,000 customers through its 68 branches nationwide.
#25. CRDB Bank
In Tanzania, CRDB Bank takes the lead with an asset worth 3 billion dollars and 17.5 % ROE. It has a stronghold of the SME and retail sectors of the market with 243 branches. CRDB is hoping to expand its services to more countries and has already made its first move into Burundi.
For its contribution to infrastructure development as well as retail and SME financing, Rawbank claimed the top spot in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also holds a controlling stake in deposits which it facilitates throughout its 40 branches.
#27. First Capital Bank Malawi
First Capital Bank has an asset worth 1.1 billion dollars with 32 branches in Malawi. Like most other banks in Africa, it sees the opportunity provided by the fast-growing digital space and hopes to utilize this for future growth. The bank is currently serving over 500,000 customers.
#28. Amen Bank
In Tunisia, Amen Bank is again the ruling bank with 3.3 billion dollars in assets and an ROE growth of 9.8%. The main driving force behind the bank’s rapid growth is digital transformation.
African banks have shown resilience in the past year, striving for excellence amid growing tension and uncertainty in the financial sector both locally and globally. Obviously, one of the driving forces behind the unprecedented growth amongst the leading banks in Africa remains innovation and digital transformation. Most of these banks have recognized the need for digitalization and are quick to embrace it. The result of this is a rapid growth in customer base and efficient service delivery.
So, what do you think about the Global Finance Magazine’s best banks in Africa? Does it represent the reality in your country? Let us know your opinions in the comment section below.