In DepthColumnsThe Nigerians are coming


Posted on Monday, 08 June 2015 12:08

The Nigerians are coming

It was perhaps inevitable given its population mass, and its half-a-trillion dollar economy. The battle-hardened cadre of bankers created by Nigeria's decade of reform-collapse-reform is being picked for the top jobs.


Exhibit 1: The election of Akinwumi Adesina to the presidency of the African Development Bank. The outgoing agriculture minister has been feted for his agricultural reforms, and sweet-talked the French into not playing their traditional role of anglophone roadblock. The result is the first ever Nigerian in charge of Africa's premier development finance institution – and increasingly, given the African Union's paralysis, Africa's loudest international megaphone on issues ranging from trade deals to climate change.

Exhibit 2: The arrival of Arnold Ekpe, veteran of Nigeria's banking scene, to the Chairmanship of Atlas Mara, the UK-listed investment vehicle run by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond. Also a former Ecobank boss, Ekpe brokered the epic investment into Oceanic Bank, that fundamentally changed Ecobank into a Nigeria-heavy entity.

Exhibit 3: And finally, the third piece in the Nigerian banking tryptich, Ade Ayeyemi, a Nigerian banker who replaces Albert Essien as Group CEO of Ecobank. A longstanding Citibanker, who currently runs the US bank's sub-Saharan operations from Johannesburg, Ayeyemi will move to Ecobank's Lomé headquarters in Togo on from 1 September.

So that's Africa's biggest supranational bank, the latest international fund interested in Africa, and the best-spread commercial bank, all run by Nigerians.

And I am sure one would find ever-increasing examples of Nigerian bankers spreading their wings over the region.

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook is Managing Editor of The Africa Report, helping to set up the magazine in 2005. He has been a producer for Radio France International, and has lived and worked in West Africa. In 2011 he won the Diageo Business Reporting award for Journalist of the Year.

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