Co-op Bank feted as the best lender in the region

Co-operative Bank House, Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Co-operative Bank of Kenya has been named the best lender in the East African region for overall excellence in banking.

The lender, which is owned by co-operative societies, was declared the Best Regional Bank in East Africa in the 2022 African Banker Awards held in Ghana.

Last year, the award was won by Equity Bank, also a Tier One bank.

Besides Kenya, Co-op Bank also has a presence in South Sudan. In the first three months of 2022, the bank reported a net profit of Sh5.8 billion, buoyed by non-interest income and cost management.

This was a growth of 65.7 per cent from a profit after tax of Sh3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

This year's awards were sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund, Bank of Industry (Nigeria) and the Trade Development Bank as well as Access Bank.

The award patron is the African Development Bank (AfDB), whose annual meetings conclude tomorrow.

AfDB is celebrating 50 years of the African Development Fund, which is undergoing a new replenishment round.

In his speech, Omar Ben Yedder, chair of the African Banker Awards Organising Committee and publisher of African Banker magazine, said Africa should focus its efforts on strengthening its domestic capabilities to finance growth.

"We need strong institutions and we need to start with our commercial and development banks," he said.

"If we have learnt anything from the past two years, and even more so these last two months, it is that we need to achieve financial sovereignty if we are to own our growth agenda."

The African Banker Icon and Finance Minister of the Year were won by women.

Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, was awarded the African Banker Icon Award for her tireless work in providing governments with the fiscal ammunition to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

Angola’s Finance Minister Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves de Sousa was recognised as the Finance Minister of the Year for her outstanding work in restoring stability and market confidence to her country.

Uganda's Deputy Central Bank Governor Michael Atingi-Ego won the Central Bank Governor of the Year award.

Earlier this year, the bank's governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile passed away, leaving a void which will not be easily filled.

However, the Central Bank of Uganda was one of the star performers this year, having managed to stave off inflation and achieve currency stability in an extremely challenging environment.

Other winners in the African Banker awards included legendary Nigerian banker Atedo Peterside, founder of IBTC Bank, which he merged with Stanbic 15 years ago, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to banking.

The success of IBTC, he said, was built on everyone buying into the mission of the bank and shared values and culture.

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