New Telegraph

Wigwe is African Banker of the Year

Tony Chukwunyem


The Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Plc. Mr. Herbert Wigwe has been named the “African Banker of the Year” at the 2020 African Banker Awards. According to a statement by the lender, Wigwe was recognized for several socioeconomic efforts, including leading Nigeria’s Private Sector COVID-19 response – Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) initiative.


Specifically, under his leadership, Access Bank donated over $2.7 million to support the government in fighting the virus while championing the CACOVID initiative in Nigeria. He has also advocated other corporate climate change conscious business entities across the country to support the Federal Government towards the achievement of 25 per cent unconditional and 40 per cent conditional carbon emission reduction as agreed at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Receiving his award, Wigwe spoke of the need for organisations to embrace the institutionalization and practice of sustainable banking, saying: “Financing and facilitating a sustainable future for Africa, and indeed the world is something I am most passionate about.


“Now, more than ever, Africa needs us to unite as we seek to improve access to health care, sustainable energy, finance and improve the standard of living in our communities. I enjoin all stakeholders to be a part of the facilitation of a truly sustainable future for Africa. The future of our respective organisations and the future of generations to come depend on the alliances we form and the actions we take.


“Access Bank has taken steps towards facilitating the future I speak of, issuing the first-ever Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) certified Green Bond in Nigeria, being a focal point in Nigeria’s fight against the novel Coronavirus through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), among others.


“Through innovative banking initiatives and our underlying sustainability drive, we will continue to create shared value for all our stakeholders, striking a balance between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.”


Starting from his 10-year tenure as the Group Deputy Managing Director of the Bank to assuming the role of the Group Managing Director, Wigwe has led the first tier lender to grow its balance sheet by 1022 per cent from $901 million in 2007 to $19.7 billion in 2019, while pre-tax profits rose to $316 million in 2019 from $21 million in 2007. The profit before tax recorded in 2007 was more than the cumulative profit made by the bank in the previous 12 years.


This also marked the beginning of what would be a six-year triple-digit growth trend. In 2019, the Access Bank Group delivered a 26 per cent increase in gross earnings of $1.8 billion, from $1.4 billion in 2018 comprising interest income growth to $1.4 billion in 2019 from $1 billion in 2018, a 41 per cent growth from previous levels, despite pressures on risk asset growth within the period. Furthermore, the bank recorded a non-interest in- come growth of $355 million (12% y/y).


This net effect on operating income resulted in strong profit before tax of $316 million against N283 million in 2018. The strength of the performance reflects a growing franchise supported by digital analytics and improving customer service touch points led by Wigwe.


With Wigwe at the helm, Access Bank became the first African financial institution to win the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards for Outstanding Business Sustainability four consecutive times (from 2016 to 2019).


In recognition of his contributions towards driving sustainable business practices across the banking industry, Wigwe was named the Sustainability Champion of the Year at the Sustainability Enterprise and Responsibility Awards in 2017 and became the pioneering winner of the firstever ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year, Africa’ award at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards 2018 in recognition of his efforts towards transforming Africa for Sustainable development.


In 2019, Wigwe was appointed to the Board of the HIV Trust Fund of Nigeria

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