Africa map

The Top 100 African Banks ranking shows strong performance for South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. 

The Banker’s Top 100 African Banks ranking for 2020 shows a stabilisation in the finances of the majority of African major lenders. However, this is the calm before the storm, with Covid-19 restrictions and lower commodity prices set to take their toll on lenders in key African markets, such as South Africa, Nigeria and Angola, this year.

After a difficult 2018, South Africa’s big four all reported growth in their assets and capital positions in 2019, even as operating conditions in their home market continued to tighten through the year. Standard Bank cemented its position as the continent’s largest lender with an 8.2% increase in Tier 1 capital, compared with a 3.7% drop the year before. Second-placed FirstRand came ahead of its South African counterparts in terms of profitability, with a return on assets of 1.9%, while third-placed Absa was the best performer in terms of capital growth – its Tier 1 position improving by 13.5%.

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The incredible growth trajectory of Egyptian lenders continued unabated in 2019, with Commercial International Bank (CIB) joining National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr in the top 10. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the country’s economy will continue to grow (albeit at a much slower rate) in 2020, making it the only one of the continent’s top five economies not to slip into recession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 15 Egyptian lenders in The Banker’s Top 100 African Banks ranking for 2020, 12 improved their positions compared with last year, while all but one of the 15 reported double-digit growth in pre-tax profits for 2019.

At the other end of the spectrum, 2019 was a difficult year for Angolan lenders, as the economy struggled with lower oil outputs and a slump in the value of the kwanza in October. The country’s largest lender, Banco de Fomento Angola, saw its Tier 1 capital position drop by 18.4%, while fourth-placed Banco Millennium Atlantico saw its base decrease by 28.9%.

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In sheer growth terms, CIB is the standout performer for both Egypt and Africa in the 2020 rankings. The lender recorded a 74.8% rise in Tier 1 capital, helping it move from 14th to 9th position on the continent, while simultaneously recording a 41.3% rise in pre-tax profits.

It comes as little surprise, therefore, that CIB and Egyptian lenders dominate The Banker’s inaugural performance rankings for the 25 largest African banks by Tier 1 capital, calculated using eight key performance metrics. CIB tops this ranking, coming in the top five in places in seven of the eight metrics used, with first-place results for soundness and leverage. In all, Egyptian lenders account for five of the top 10 African performers for 2020, with Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire coming in third and fourth place overall.

Nigeria is the next best represented country in terms of performance, with two of the top 10 banks. Guaranty, the country’s third largest lender by Tier 1 capital (and 17th largest on the continent) comes in second position in the rankings thanks to its table-topping scores for profitability and return on risk. The country’s top lender, Zenith, was the fifth best performer on the continent, scoring in the top five for leverage and asset quality.

Investec recorded the best score of any South African bank in the performance rankings, coming in 15th place, scoring highly on profitability, asset quality and return on risk. At number 18, FirstRand was the best performer of the big four, with its strongest showing in return on risk, counterbalanced by lower scores for growth and liquidity.

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