The old truism about Africa needing to trade with itself will mean nothing until there are strong counterparties in different African countries willing to take on risk.That is starting to happen. In this year’s edition of Money, our editorial team was struck by how many new faces were emerging in the world of finance who had had previous experience in other African countries and were pushing crossborder deals.
This goes for the larger heavyweight banks like Attijariwafa, which is starting to shake off its reluctance to go beyond Francophone boundaries and head into markets like Egypt’s. But it is also seen in nimble private equity outfits where partners who have become familiar with Southern Africa are now setting up shop in East Africa – which can only create an interesting pipeline of integration-boosting deals.
Likewise, with financial technology becoming a serious concern for established banks, a new generation of tech-savvy bankers are finding ways to carve out space in the grey area between telecoms and financial services that could be useful across different markets.
Where Africa could have more dynamism is in its capital markets. Still too illiquid and too fragmented to really attract serious capital flows, a move towards regional bourses makes sense in many cases.
The economic slowdown and the pinch felt by commodity exporters has left its mark on Africa’s financial sector. Several big global private equity shops have warehoused their African operations until the good times return again. But this has had a happy side effect: with valuations trending down, there are an increasing number of bargains out there. Expect some serious dealmaking in the months ahead.
Segun Agbaje, Guarantee Trust Bank – Riding out the storm
GTBank continues to grow and was the fifth-largest Nigerian bank in The Africa Report’s 2016 Top 200 banks ranking. While nearly every bank creates a mobile payments platform, not all of them are created equal. Speaking at the annual investors conference, GTBank chief executive Segun Agbaje said that after a year, the bank’s 737 platform had racked up over N1trn ($3.3bn) worth of transactions.
The bank is also trumpeting the output from its subsidiaries in the region. GTBank Gambia and GTBank Sierra Leone have turned out to be the most profitable of the bunch. With group profits in 2016 up 37%, GTBank appears to have weathered Nigeria’s economic squalls better than most. Agbaje has a steady hand. He started working at the bank in 1991, a year after it was founded, and became its managing director in 2011.
Ipeleng Mkhari, Motseng Investment Holdings – Climbing property and other ladders
This motivated self-starter got going when working at a CCTV company as a marketing director. Twelve months later, she had a CCTV company of her own – the first black woman-owned CCTV company in South Africa – which was eventually to become Motseng Investment Holdings. That snowballed into a property management company, adding janitor services to security. Deals with progressively larger entities, such as Marriott Hotels, has brought the company into the big time. The purchase of a stake in KAP International – a diversified logistics and manufacturing company – has diversified the business, and Mkhari now sits on the board as a non-executive director of the firm. The value of Motseng Investment’s assets under management now top R20bn ($1.5bn). Mkhari is a tireless and vocal advocate for women in business in South Africa, in the property sector and beyond.
These articles first appeared in the Money supplement that accompanied the May 2017 print edition of The Africa Report