Kenyan Banks have emerged top of their other East African counterparts in the 2021 ranking of the continent’s top 100 banks by tier 1 capital conducted by Africa Business Magazine. Equity was the highest-ranked in the report. The regional lender climbed three places to position 24 following a 27% increase in its capital to $ 1.4 billion.
Africa Business Magazine noted Equity’s continued expansion in the regional market including the recent foray into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the merger of Equity Bank Congo (EBC) and Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) to form Equity BCDC. During the release of the 2021 half-year results in which the bank announced a KES 17 billion profit, Equity Group CEO Dr James Mwangi said he expects DRC will drive Equity’s growth in the coming years.
Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and Kenya’s KCB dropped places in this year’s ranking to positions 26 and 29 respectively.
“CBE’s tier 1 capital is down 33% to $1.2bn and it has fallen from position 17 to 26. Part of this is due to the faster depreciation of the birr than the Kenyan shilling against the US dollar. CBE retains top profitability with 24% ROE,” says Tom Minney of African Business Magazine.
KCB has also slipped from position 25 to 29 with tier 1 capital down 6% to $1.1bn, although this is mostly due to 8% depreciation in the Kenyan shilling versus the dollar.
Although regional economies have been hard hit, the report recognizes Kenya’s and the region’s accommodative monetary policies as part of the emergency response by policy-makers and central banks. The industry is widely expected to recover later in the year, with Kenya bouncing back fastest, although held back by ongoing precautionary restrictions.
Kenyan banks make up regional rankings positions 4 to 7. Tanzania’s highest-ranked bank is the National Microfinance Bank, creeping up the overall ranking from position 67 to 64 and position 8 in the region with a capital of $397m. Rwanda’s Bank of Kigali is back in the top 100, after dropping out last year, although tier 1 capital fell 1% to $224m.
Equity’s rise in ranking comes in the backdrop of economic turbulence in the region occasioned by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The lender exhibited innovation during the pandemic period resulting in a rise in the uptake of its digital banking offerings. While Kenya’s banking transactions completed through digital channels stood at 67% according to the 2019/2020 Central Bank of Kenya annual report, Equity’s customers made 98% of their transactions outside physical branches, with 85% of those done through self-service mobile and internet banking platforms.