Ecobank: Continuing along the path to growth

 DSC0242In a wide-ranging interview, Ecobank’s Global Chief Executive, Ade Ayeyemi talks to African Review about the bank’s ambitious strategy. Stephen Williams posed the questions

AR: You have now been at the head of Ecobank for two years. Could you summarise what have been the major challenges facing the bank during this period?

AA: The way I look at banking is that the economy of the environment in which we operate creates challenges. But in those challenges we also see opportunities as a firm. 

So the first thing is the economy. Some of our countries, especially in Nigeria, went into a tailspin because commodity prices fell and production declined. That created a lot of issues in terms international trade areas and domestic trade areas. That forced movements in the currency that then had a spill-over effect on the region and all the other countries around the region.  

Then we had challenges around the Boko Haram situation that led to a loss of economic activity, especially in Nigeria, in Chad and Cameroon, that again created a set of challenges. We also had other issues here and there, but they are not of sufficient position to threaten the firm. Each time there is an election in our countries there is a reduction in economic activity because elections create uncertainty, both in terms of outcome but also in terms of the reaction to the outcome. So we have to deal with all of those terms. 

But the most important challenge has been the economic consequences of a reduction in the price of commodities and the consequent foreign policy liquidity issue in Nigeria, the reduction, the devaluation and the spill-over effects and contagion effects around the countries.

From our point of view we also focus on opportunities that a firm can take advantage of. Those challenges will have been difficult to cope with, but the fact that we have diversified business across 33 markets in Africa and we have banking licences, and opportunities in three other markets where we have representative offices across. The fact that we have connectivity to OECD countries through Paris, those things then present diversified revenue opportunities for the firm. 

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