Home AWARDS The International Banker 2023 Middle East & Africa Awards Winners

The International Banker 2023 Middle East & Africa Awards Winners

by internationalbanker


With Ghana undergoing a significant debt restructuring at present, its top banks have experienced their first losses on record. Bloomberg’s calculations found that banks operating in West Africa’s second-largest economy have taken a hit of $1.4 billion due to the restructuring of public debt, estimated at 576 billion cedis (US$49 billion). This debt spiralled following spending pressures from an energy crisis between 2013 and 2015, a major clean-up of its banking sector in 2018, and, more recently, the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

GCB Bank (Ghana Commercial Bank), Ghana’s largest lender by assets, posted a 593.4-million-cedis ($50.5 million) net loss for 2022, its first since at least 1993 when Bloomberg started keeping records of such data. And Standard Chartered Ghana, the biggest Ghanaian bank by market value, reported a loss of 297.8 million cedis. GCB also took a charge of 1.83 billion cedis after impairing its debt securities, while that amount for Standard Chartered was 173 million cedis. Ghana’s lenders were allowed a month’s extension to release full-year earnings.

Nigeria’s banking sector could soon change considerably after the central bank gave the green light to the approval of guidelines for the regulation of representative offices of foreign banks in the country to promote the financial system’s stability. At this stage, however, the Guidelines for the Regulation of Representative Offices of Foreign Banks in Nigeria bans these representative offices from engaging in the country’s banking business, as well as any regulated or commercial and trading activities resulting in the issuance of invoices for services rendered.

In total, therefore, the central bank has approved representative offices to carry out a limited range of activities. “Marketing the products and services of its foreign parent or an affiliate of the foreign parent licensed and domiciled outside Nigeria; carrying out research activities in Nigeria on behalf of the foreign parent; serving as a liaison between the foreign parent and local banks, private institutions within Nigeria and other customers of the foreign parent based in Nigeria.” The apex bank has also granted foreign banks permission to give loans to Nigerians and companies operating in Nigeria in dollars in order to expand dollar liquidity in Nigeria by authorising foreign banks to work with their parent firms in obtaining and syndicating dollar-denominated loans to Nigerian companies.

According to Fitch Ratings analysis from late April, Kenya’s deposit growth will increase from 6 percent year-on-year at-end 2022 to 9 percent by the end of this year due to an expected second-half weakening of the currency, which will prop up foreign deposits, and an improving macroeconomic backdrop, which will support local deposits. Client-loan growth, however, is projected to decline from 12.3 percent year-on-year to 11 percent by the end of 2023, stemming largely from higher lending rates that will also weaken credit and bond-portfolio growth and thus weigh on total-asset growth this year.

But as the economy improves in the year’s second half, Fitch sees household savings increasing, which should support local-currency-denominated deposit growth. “This is despite a weaker macroeconomic backdrop in H123, which will weigh slightly on deposits, as lower economic growth could force locals to have to tap into their savings, or save at a slower rate,” according to the rating agency. “Whilst we expect local deposits to remain the largest contributor of total deposits (they accounted for 74.4 percent of the total, as of Q422), we see the potential for increased dollarization of deposits, as depositors move away from a weakening currency.” And although profit and capital levels will remain strong in 2023, Fitch highlights two main risks to the banking sector—falling liquidity and dollar shortages, which means that its overall outlook on Kenya’s banking sector this year remains decidedly mixed.

Across the border, meanwhile, an analysis of 13 first-tier banks by East Africa-focused daily news outlet The Citizen revealed on May 5 that Tanzania’s first-quarter banking-sector performance was strong, largely due to gains made in digital financial services, favourable legislation and brighter economic prospects. The lenders themselves—CRDB Bank, NMB Bank, Standard Chartered, Exim Bank (Tanzania), Stanbic Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, Absa Bank Tanzania, KCB Bank Tanzania, Tanzania Commercial Bank, People’s Bank of Zanzibar (PBZ), Citibank, NBC (National Bank of Commerce) Bank and Azania Bank (First Adili Bancorp)—accounted for 90 percent of the sector’s profitability and performed solidly across such parameters as profit levels, customer deposits, loans, asset values and nonperforming loans (NPLs), among others.

Their combined net profits surged by 20 percent during the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period a year earlier in 2022, to reach Sh334.56 billion. “The success of the banking industry also came on the back of rising confidence among customers, improved access to banking services and an overall positive economic outlook that has resulted in an increase in demand for banking services,” the report disclosed. “During the first three months of 2023, an eye-popping Sh27.54 trillion was deposited by customers in the 13 banks, which is Sh944 billion more than the Sh26.5 trillion that was deposited during the first quarter of 2022.” And although some lenders struggled with nonperforming loans, the overall picture was much improved from the first quarter of 2022, with only two first-tier lenders registering double-digit NPL levels this year.

Namibian commercial banks have met firm resistance from various groups challenging the “unjust and criminal liability” of repossessing homes from struggling homeowners. Data from the Bank of Namibia (BoN) shows that households, on average, are spending at least 17.8 percent of their incomes just to service bank loans, while commercial banks repossessed unsold residential properties worth N$251 million during the five years to June 2022. “Once a property has been listed for attachment, it takes about three months for the bank and their client to come to a payment agreement,” Manfred Hennis, the deputy sheriff of Windhoek, reportedly confirmed, adding that on a weekly basis, around 10 houses are listed for attachment, with one to three being sold. “We only step in to sell the property if an agreement has not been made after the date of the attachment.”

But the Black Business Leadership Network of Namibia (BBLNN) has stated that the legal profession must intervene to challenge repossession laws, which is crucial in winning the battle for openness regarding bank repossessions. “You can’t apply normal rules during an economic crisis. Like it or not, the Covid-19 pandemic and economic downturn messed everything up. I am truly proud that the legal fraternity is now openly challenging these injustices,” the Network’s president, Irene Simeon-Kurtz, told the local news outlet, The Namibian, adding that most people cannot afford lawyers to fight banks regarding repossessions.

Banks in Saudi Arabia are enjoying life in 2023 thus far, with central bank SAMA’s (Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority’s) figures published on May 1 showing the sector’s aggregate profits for March reached SR7.43 billion ($1.98 billion), which is a hefty 23.2 percent more compared to the same month a year earlier. The SAMA monthly bulletin also revealed that the aggregate assets of banks operating in the Kingdom jumped by 11.17 percent annually in March to SR3.74 trillion, while combined deposits surged 11 percent to SR2.40 trillion. Loans to private entities also performed well, rising by 10 percent to SR2.35 trillion, thus indicating solid growth was occurring in the non-oil private sector.

“The Q1 2023 profitability growth numbers for the sector and the quarterly earnings reported by the banks so far indicate that the corporate-focused banks are benefiting from the higher rate environment,” financial-services company Al Rajhi Capital stated regarding the latest SAMA bulletin. “We maintain our positive view on corporate-focused banks, as we believe the credit growth in the system will be driven by the corporate banks. Moreover, in terms of NIMs (net interest margin), we believe that the corporate banks are well-positioned to benefit.”

In glaring contrast, however, Lebanon continues to experience a severe banking crisis, which has seen customers take to the streets in protest. On May 9, angry bank depositors staged a sit-in in front of Beirut’s Lebanese Parliament following a call for civil action from the Depositors’ Outcry Association to demand the recovery of their deposits and rally against the state’s banking policies. Depositors’ Outcry Association is an organisation that was set up to defend the rights of bank depositors, most of whom have been blocked from accessing their deposits for almost four years. As such, many are struggling to survive amid skyrocketing inflation that has sent the prices of necessary goods, such as food and fuel, soaring, while the local currency has lost around 90 percent of its value, dramatically reducing depositors’ purchasing power and sending half of the entire population below the poverty line.

Several banks were set ablaze by protesters in mid-February following the crash of the Lebanese pound to historic lows. In pursuit of new capital-control laws, Lebanese banks closed down earlier that month, further angering depositors. By early March, the secretary general of the country’s banking association (Association of Banks in Lebanon) confirmed that Lebanon’s commercial banks did not have enough liquidity to pay back depositors. Many banks have also imposed informal capital controls and severely restricted cash withdrawals due to this dearth of liquidity.

Recent figures show that Kuwait’s banking sector enjoyed its best-ever year in 2022 for growth in total assets, as a resurgence in oil prices proved a massive boon for the country’s lenders. A study by KPMG found that year-on-year growth of total assets in the country climbed by an average of 21.4 percent. The sector’s average net profit also soared by a whopping 36.3 percent to reach 412.9 percent for the year, while average growth in coverage ratios on Stage 3 loans also grew at its fastest-ever annual rate of 7.1 percent. More modest growth was also observed in Kuwaiti banks’ average return on equity (ROE), at 0.8 percent. The average capital adequacy ratio (CAR), meanwhile, was recorded at a healthy 17.3 percent, slightly less than 2021’s 18.3 percent but still well above the 12-percent minimum threshold required by the Central Bank of Kuwait. And the cost-to-income ratio rose by 4 percent to reach 46.6 percent.

According to Fitch, deposit growth in Omani banks should pick up from last year’s 0.8 percent to 3.6 percent in 2023 due to a more aggressive tightening of financial conditions this year, which will trigger higher, more attractive deposit rates. Fitch also expects lending rates to rise following “a relative stagnation” last year, with 2023 credit growth subdued at 4.4 percent, slightly lower than 2022’s 4.7 percent. The agency further forecasts Omani banks’ nonperforming loans ratio to remain above pre-COVID levels due to sluggish growth.

“Even though the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) increased the repo rate from 0.50 percent at the beginning of 2022 to 5.50 percent by April 2023, the interest rate on local-currency deposits in Omani banks ticked down during most of 2022 as the high energy price environment increased liquidity in the banking system,” the rating agency reported on April 21. “However, since Q422, we have seen a reversal in this trend as the interest rate on Omani-rial deposits increased by almost 40 basis points between August 2022 and February 2023.” Fitch also expects interest rates on local currency deposits, which account for 90.1 percent of deposits at Omani lenders, to more significantly increase in the coming months “as the pass-through from the substantial rise in interest rates starts to materialise”, which in turn should encourage more saving than spending.

A mid-April report published by Kamco Invest (KAMCO Investment Company), a regional economic think-tank, showed that despite experiencing an aggressive interest-rate regime, Qatar’s banks demonstrated the strongest lending growth during last year’s final quarter amongst lenders in all the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. According to the report, which analysed data from respective GCC central banks, several months of lacklustre lending activity were followed by Qatari banks reporting sizeable lending growth at 3.5 percent during the quarter, compared with the decline recorded during the previous quarter.

Aggregate credit facilities in Qatar also hit QR1.3 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter, reportedly due to 9-percent growth in lending to the real-estate sector, as well as 5.5-percent and 5.4-percent growth in lending to the services and public sectors, respectively. The report also noted that Qatar-listed banks showed strong deposit growth of 3.1 percent to reach $405 billion. UAE (United Arab Emirates)-listed banks, however, took the top prize for the region, with the highest return on equity, at 13.9 percent, followed by Saudi and Qatari banks at 12.5 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively. And on loan loss provisions, Kamco confirmed that Qatari banks reported the biggest provisions during 2022 at $3.9 billion, ahead of the UAE at $3.5 billion and Saudi Arabia at $2.6 billion.




Middle East
Mr. Ahmed Abdelaal

Mashreq (UAE)



Middle East
Kuwait Finance House (KFH)


Best Banking Group Bahrain
Bank ABC Group

Best Banking Group Jordan
Arab Bank

Best Banking Group Qatar
QNB Group

Best Investment Bank Of The Year Kuwait
NBK Capital

Best Investment Bank Of The Year UAE
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Bahrain
Bank ABC

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year KSA
Al Rajhi Bank

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Kuwait
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK)

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Qatar
Doha Bank

Most Sustainable Bank Kuwait
Kuwait Finance House (KFH)

Best Private Bank Of The Year KSA
SAB Private Banking

Best Private Bank Of The Year Qatar

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Bahrain
Ahli United Bank

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Jordan
Arab Bank

Best Innovation In Retail Banking KSA
Saudi National Bank (SNB)

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Oman
Bank Muscat

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Qatar
Commercial Bank

Best Islamic Bank Of The Year Bahrain

Best Islamic Bank Of The Year Oman

Best Islamic Bank Of The Year Qatar

Best Commitment To ESG Principles Kuwait
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK)

Best Commitment To ESG Principles Qatar
QNB Group

Best Commitment To ESG Principles UAE






Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu

Zenith Bank (Nigeria)



Nedbank (South Africa)


Best Banking Group Kenya
Equity Group

Best Banking Group South Africa
Standard Bank Group

Best Banking Group Togo

Best Investment Bank Of The Year South Africa
Absa Bank Limited

Best Development Bank Of The Year Africa
Bank of Industry

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Ethiopia
Awash Bank

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Kenya
Equity Bank

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Mauritius

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Tanzania

Best Commercial Bank Of The Year Zambia
Zanaco Bank

Most Sustainable Bank Nigeria
Zenith Bank

Best Private Bank Of The Year Mauritius
SBM Private Banking

Best Private Bank Of the Year South Africa
Investec Private Banking

Best Private Bank Of The Year Tanzania
NMB Bank Plc

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Ethiopia
Awash Bank

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Ivory Coast
Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB)

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Kenya
Diamond Trust Bank

Best Innovation In Retail Banking South Africa

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Tunisia
Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT)

Best Innovation In Retail Banking Zambia
Zanaco Plc

Best Commitment To ESG Principles Ivory Coast
Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB)

Best Commitment To ESG Principles Nigeria
Bank of Industry

Best Commitment To ESG Principles Tanzania
NMB Bank Plc



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