Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Access Bank MD Win African Banker Awards 2020


The Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, have emerged winners at the 2020 edition of the African Banker Awards.

The award ceremony held virtually on Wednesday was shifted to August to coincide with the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings taking place this week, with the election of the president of the bank expected on Thursday.

Considered as the Oscars of the African banking community, the big winners this year were Access Bank and women in the banking and finance sector.

Mr Wigwe won this year’s African Banker of the Year. He was awarded due to the bank’s growth and expansion, including the oversight of the takeover of Diamond Bank, a bank that was much bigger than Access Bank less than 15 years ago.

Access Bank also won Agriculture deal of the year, in its role to help Olam develop its rice operations in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s minister of finance, budget, and non-planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, won the Finance Minister of the Year. According to the organisers, Mrs Ahmed managed to push through a set of difficult reforms as well as successfully engaging international partners to help the country navigate an extremely challenging economic environment.

The Central Bank Governor of the year went to Mrs Caroline Abel, from Seychelles.

African Banker Icon was given to Mrs Vivien Shobo, who was the CEO of ratings and advisory firm, Agusto & Co up until last December. She was recognised for playing an instrumental role in developing Nigeria’s credit markets and also for helping grow a truly world-class organisation that is competing against much better resourced international players.

Extending Nigeria’s feat, The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) bank of the year went to Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BOI) while MTN Nigeria’s initial public offering through Chapel Hill Denham won the deal of the year (equity)

Tunisian pioneer, Mr Ahmed Abdelkefi won the Lifetime Achievement Award. The businessman was the founder of numerous businesses operating in leasing, brokerage and investment banking. He also founded private equity group, Tuninvest, and then launched Africinvest, one of Africa’s most successful Africa-owned PE firms.

Trade and Development Bank (TDB) won Bank of the Year. Incidentally, its CEO, Mr Admassu Tadesse, won Banker of the Year at last year’s ceremony.

The organisers added a number of awards this year to reflect the AfDB’s High Fives Agenda. The energy deal of the year went to a renewable energy bond structured by Nedbank and infrastructure deal of the year went to the Port of Maputo in a transaction led by Standard Bank.

Commenting on this year’s awards, Mr Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker said: “It’s been a momentous year in every sense. Banks will have to play a lead role in kick-starting post-COVID growth and sustaining the real economy.

“Governments and regulators have done an excellent job with limited means and both our winners Caroline Abel and Zainab Ahmed have demonstrated strong leadership there. Banks will need to work with institutions and partners to ensure liquidity doesn’t dry up.

“To quote our Lifetime Achievement Winner: Keep moving forward: adapt, innovate, take risks. That’s your job. Today’s crisis is neither the first and it will not be the last.”

The awards, which are held under the high patronage of the African Development Bank, are sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund as Platinum Sponsor, the Bank of Industry as Gold Sponsor and Moza Banco as Associate Sponsor.

A full glance at the winners:

African Banker of the Year: Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank

Lifetime Achievement Award:  Ahmed Abdelkefi, Founder Tunisie Leasing; Tuninvest; Tunisie Valeurs

African Banker Icon: Vivien Shobo, Former CEO Agusto & Co.

African Bank of the Year: Trade and Development Bank (TDB)

Minister of Finance of the Year: Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance of Nigeria

Central Bank Governor of the Year: Mrs Caroline Abel, Central Bank Governor of Seychelles

Investment Bank of the Year: Citi

Award for Financial Inclusion: Kenya Women Microfinance

SME Bank of the Year: Bank of Industry, Nigeria

Socially Responsible Bank of the Year: Equity Bank, Kenya

Innovation in Banking: Ecobank

Deal of the Year – Equity: MTN Nigeria IPO – Chapel Hill Denham

Deal of the Year – Debt: Bank of Industry €1bn syndicated senior loan facility – Bank of Industry / Afreximbank/ Credit Suisse

Infrastructure Deal of the Year: Port of Maputo – Standard Bank

Energy Project of the Year: Renewable Energy Bond – Nedbank

Agri Deal of the Year:  Olam Rice Farm – Access Bank

Regional Banks of the Year:

East Africa – Equity Bank

West Africa – Coris

North Africa – CIB, Egypt

Southern Africa – Moza Banco

Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon.