Ecobank Ghana has reported a total revenue of GHC1.8 billion and a GHC782 million profit before tax, making it the most profitable bank in Ghana for the year 2020, a challenging year due to the hard-hitting Covid-19 pandemic.
This indicates some 17% growth in revenue and 22% increase in profits over the prior year’s figures.
Board Chair for the bank, Terrence Darko disclosed this to shareholders at its 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM), held virtually earlier this month.
The bank, which already had about 80% of services to customers being accessed digitally, took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to even leverage more on technology to grow revenue and profits, thereby, boosting shareholder value.
Indeed, the bank’s return on average assets and equity stood at 3.8% and 26.0% respectively, demonstrating improved shareholder value creation.
Again, for the period under review, Ecobank’s customer deposits were also the highest by any bank in the industry, growing 21% from GHs9.7 billion in 2019 to GHs11.8 billion in 2020.
Meanwhile, increases in operating expenses were efficiently controlled within the inflationary levels as the Bank posted a cost-to-income ratio of 47.9%, which compared favorably with the industry ratios.
Ecobank, in addition, ended the year with an outstanding market capitalization of GHS2.3 billion and a capital adequacy ratio of 19.57%, over and above the regulatory requirement of 13%.
It was on the back of that stellar performance that the the Board proposed a dividend payout of 55 pesewas per share, an increase of 83% over last year’s payout of 30 pesewas per share. The proposed dividend per share was unanimously approved by shareholders.
The extraordinary performance by Ecobank was against the backdrop of a rather difficult year brought on by the corona virus pandemic that imposed lockdowns, border restrictions, disruptions in supply chains and a slowdown in the demand for a number of products and services.
However, the Bank’s robust digital infrastructure kept the business afloat and also accommodated the remote working requirements of a large number of the Bank’s employees. This was achieved through consistent investment in technology and innovation over the years.
Terence Darko also noted that the benefits of the Central Bank’s clean-up activities begun to positively impact banking in the pandemic year.
This, he said, was evident in the presence of a resilient banking industry, which has to date managed to withstand the adverse effects of the pandemic, showing moderate financial sector performance, as most banks remain liquid, profitable and well capitalized.
Touching on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Mr. Darko indicated that Ecobank was committed to driving positive change in the communities within which they operate focusing on health, education, financial inclusion and the environment.
He also mentioned a number of CSR initiatives that Ecobank had embarked on in support of government’s efforts including supporting the Ghana COVID-19 private sector Fund with GHs1.3 million.
The Covid-19 donation comprised of GHs750,000 cash donation towards the construction of a 100-bed Infectious Disease Center in Accra, donation of personal protective equipment (PPEs) worth GHS550,000, and a donation of 10,000 pieces of COVID-19 test kits to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
Touching on partnerships and collaborations in the fight against the pandemic, he further indicated that Ecobank had collaborated with the Multimedia Group to solicit additional funds for the private sector fund intended for the 100–bed infectious disease centre, which saw the Multimedia Group contributing GHS100,000 worth of airtime for the charitable campaign.
Additionally, the Bank embarked on a series of webinars together with the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), to help improve awareness amongst the public on COVID–19, focusing on key safety and preventive measures.
“These activities were complimented with a year-long campaign on radio, print and social media platforms by the Bank. Ecobank’s COVID-19 related donations cumulatively amounted to Ghs1.75 million. This excluded interventions such as the waiving off and in some instances, a reduction in bank charges on its digital channels during the pandemic . The bank also granted payment holidays and moratoriums when needed to selected businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic,” the board chair said.
Within the year, the Bank won a number of awards including the prestigious CIMG 2020 Hall of Fame Best Bank, Global Banking & Finance Award – Best Investment Bank in Ghana 2020, Sustainability and Social Investment Award for the Best Company in Environmental Sustainable Project in 2020, Sustainability and Social Investment Award for the Best Company in Specialty Healthcare Support Project 2020.
Other awards were the National Student Award – Student Bank of the Year 2020, Ghana Business Awards – Company of the Year, and the Ghana Business Awards Excellence in Innovation and Technology 2020, amongst many other laurels. Ecobank dedicates these numerous awards to our loyal customers and stakeholders.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Daniel Sackey noted that during the year, over 60% percent of the Bank’s workforce successfully worked remotely at a point in time, and that was largely achieved because of the Bank’s already existing robust technology, which remain resilient throughout the pandemic year.
Touching on the Bank’s first consumer digital lending proposition, Xpress Loans, launched in June 2019, Mr. Sackey, informed the media that the Bank had since advanced micro loans to 2.3 million customers as at May 2021, saying that Xpress Loans, is transforming lives, with 36% of customers using the loan for businesses and 74% of the beneficiaries below the age of 34.
“Indeed, Xpress Loan is now a critical tool for expanding financing to our MSMEs and is a key driver of job creation, supporting 54% of beneficiaries earning monthly incomes of less than US$150,” he said.
Dan Sackey appealed to the media, as key partners, to support the Bank’s advocacy efforts to drive repayments and ensure a sustainable product delivery.
For the Bank’s business clients, he indicated that Ecobank had rolled out over 4,200 Ecobank Pay terminals across the country to facilitate collections for various merchants.
The Bank has in addition, deployed a number of solutions for this segment including a simplified customer self-onboarding digital platform, Ecobank Omnilite as well as the Bank’s award winning Ecobank Omniplus solution for its Corporate customers.
The Ecobank business card, Ecobank’s recently launched flagship product is a contactless prepaid card that allows corporate card holders to access funds in a safe, secure and convenient manner, anywhere and anytime across the globe.
Issued instantly, these cards may be personalized with the company’s name. They are reloadable and may be issued to anyone including non-Ecobank account holders, providing a unique audit trail on the spend of users thus helping to increase control and business transparency. Like most of the Bank’s digital products, the Ecobank Business Card allows for self-service, enabling customers to fund their cards without being physically present in any of our outlets, using our enhanced Ecobank Mobile application.
The MD further threw light on the support that the Bank is providing to both customers and the communities within which the Bank operates, particularly during the COVID – 19 pandemic to safeguard the health and safety of all its stakeholders including; customers, employees and vendors.
With respect to the customers, some of the measures that he touched on included digitally expanding access to markets, capacity building through training and mentorship programs as well as the provision of financial advisory services. He also indicated that the early months of 2021 had seen the gradual easing of COVID 19 restrictions, as well as a successful rollout of a pilot vaccination program in Ghana, mainly for frontline staff, persons above 60 years and those with underlying medical conditions, he in addition affirmed the Bank’s determination to work assiduously towards leading the fight against the pandemic and continue to remain resolute in its support to customers, staff and stakeholders during and after COVID to ensure full financial recovery.