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Albert Essien, Group CEO of Ecobank, has won the African Banker of the Year Award at the ninth edition of the African Banker Awards, hosted by African Banker magazine under the patronage of the African Development Bank.
He received the award during a prestigious gala dinner in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on Wednesday, May 27 at the ongoing 40th Annual Meetings of African Development Bank.
Veteran banker Albert Essien from Ghana was awarded the African Banker of the Year Award for his hard work in inheriting a bank in a precarious position last year. Essien managed to steady the ship and bring in some important shareholders to strengthen Ecobank's capital base.
Upon receiving the award, Essien called on fellow Africans to work hard, get enough education, so as to build the African continent .
Ivorian Tidjane Thiam, the first African CEO of a FTSE100 company, and Nigerian Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Bank, received the honours in the African Banker Icon and Lifetime Achievement categories, respectively.
Nigerian Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Bank, was also crowned African Banker Icon and Lifetime Achiever.
In the African Bank of the Year category, Groupe Banque Populaire beat stiff competition from four shortlisted nominees to win the coveted title.
Groupe Banque Populaire is one of the most important financial services groups in Morocco. It has recently taken a major stake in West African group Banque Atlantique and helped to turn around its performance significantly.
East Africa won two coveted awards: the Minister of Finance and Central Bank Governor categories for Rwanda and Kenya, respectively.
Morocco had a strong showing with four awards. Mozambique did well winning two awards in the most innovative bank and best bank in Southern Africa categories.
This year's ceremony was hosted by MasterCard International. Speaking at the event, MasterCard's Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Daniel Monehin, said: "We believe that the African Banker Awards understands precisely what excellence in banking means. One only has to consider the Award winners and nominees tonight. This is why we are proud to support these Awards, where we recognize and commemorate our banking colleagues, who have, in the last year, provided us with outstanding examples of progress towards our shared goal of banking excellence."
Ecobank/Nedbank, Banque Internationale pour l'Afrique au Congo (BIAC), Banque Altantique, Groupe Banque Centrale Populaire, GT Bank and Coris Bank International also supported the Awards, along with ECAir, Sopra Banking Software and Travelex.
Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker, thanked the sponsors and the judging panel which this year included Ade Adebajo, Consultant, Debt Capital Markets, Africa; Koosum Kalyan, Chairman, EdgoMerap Pty Ltd.; Tom Minney, Editor, African Capital Markets News, African Growth Partners Ltd; Alain le Noir, CEO, Finances Sans Frontières; Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Ethiopia; Michel Losembe, President, Congolese Association of Banks; Paul Derreumaux, Honourary President, Bank of Africa Group; and Christopher Hartland-Peel, Principal, Hartland-Peel Africa Equity Research.
“It is great to see banks and financiers rise to the challenge to keep innovating and having a positive impact on Africa's growth. The growth story will depend on a strong and resilient banking system, one that is both bold and responsible. We see plenty of these qualities amongst our winners tonight,” Ben Yedder said.
The ceremony was witnessed by a number of African Ministers of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, along with the CEOs of some of Africa's leading banks and financial institutions.
The African Banker Awards is an annual event instituted to celebrate and give recognition to African personalities whose daily endeavours have contributed tremendously to the growth of the African continent.
The full list of winners:
African Bank of the Year
Groupe Banque Populaire
African Banker of the Year
Albert Essien, Group CEO Ecobank (ETI)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Chairman, Zenith Bank
Finance Minister of the Year
Hon. Claver Gatete
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Prof Njuguna Ndung'u
African Banker Icon
Former Finance Minister of Côte d'Ivoire and CEO of Prudential
Best Regional Banks in Africa
Best Bank in North Africa
Best Bank in West Africa
Best Bank in Central Africa
Groupe BGFI Bank
Best Bank in East Africa
Bank of Kigali
Best Bank in Southern Africa
Banco de Comercio e Investimentos
Best Retail Bank in Africa
Investment Bank of the Year
Rand Merchant Bank
Award for Innovation in Banking
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year
Award for Financial Inclusion
Deal of the Year - Equity
Deal of the Year - Debt
$850m Commercial and ECA Backed Financing Package for the Ethiopian Railways Corporation
Trade Finance Deal of the Year
$1.3bn Petroleum Export Limited Syndicated Pre-export Facility
Commercial International Bank (CIB), Egypt
Infrastructure Deal of the Year
CENPOWER - KPONE IPP
Africa Finance Corporation, Nigeria
Best Islamic Finance Initiative
Citi and ICD