Ecobank: Francophone Africa operations close the gap with the Anglophone zone

By Aurélie M'Bida

Posted on Tuesday, 8 February 2022 11:50, updated on Wednesday, 9 February 2022 17:57
Ecobank headquarters in Lomé. © Michel Aveline for JA

Although Nigeria has been dethroned as the primary source of revenue for the pan-African banking group Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the two clusters of French-speaking West Africa and English-speaking West Africa continued to contribute approximately 60% of profits in 2021.

Before tax, the combined profits of Francophone and Anglophone West Africa represent almost 90% of Ecobank’s profits.

Proving it can withstand the economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, the group, which is present in 33 countries, recorded a very slight decline in its operating profit to $1.7bn (+1%) last year.

Half the growth rate

Based on ETI’s 2021 financial performance, the French-speaking West African zone recorded a pre-tax profit of $193m (compared to $151m in 2020), while the Anglophone West Africa zone achieved a profit of $231m in 2021 (+15% from the previous year). As a result, earnings growth in the English-speaking region was half that of the French-speaking region, where pre-tax profit increased by almost 30% year-on-year.

In addition, the French-speaking West African subsidiaries now account for more than 40% of the Ade Ayeyemi-led group’s bottom line. In 2020, they accounted for 87% of pre-tax earnings, due to the negative impact (-$330m) of eliminating intra-group operations and the performance other ETI subsidiaries and structured entities (including the holding company, eProcess and Ecobank International in Paris) on earnings.

The English-speaking West African subsidiaries made up 48% of the group’s pre-tax profit in 2021. They therefore maintained their position as the group’s largest contributor. The group’s pre-tax profit was $477m in 2021 and increased by more than 2.5 times compared to 2020.

Apart from Togo, where ETI’s headquarters is situated, the pan-African banking group is present in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali and Niger in French-speaking West Africa. As for English-speaking West Africa, apart from Nigeria, Ecobank has subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia.

The case of Nigeria

Since 2018, Nigeria has not been the main driver of the group’s revenue. After several years of decline, the turnover recorded in Nigeria fell, for the first time in a decade, below that registered in the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) zone. An important and strategic market (due to its size and strong potential for commercial development), Nigeria is going through a difficult period, which has been prolonged, in particular, by non-performing assets and the fall in oil prices.

While awaiting the publication of ETI’s audited results and details regarding its turnover, Nigeria’s pre-tax profit rose to $53m (+53%). The group has performed just as well in other geographical areas. However, this amount remains almost four times lower than that of the UEMOA zone, and 4.5 times lower than the pre-tax profit for English-speaking West Africa.

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