• Friday, June 14, 2024
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UBA’s Africa expansion yielding fruit as earnings jump

UBA’s Africa expansion yielding fruit as earnings jump

When the African operations of Nigerian lender, United Bank for Africa (UBA), set back the Group’s finances in 2010, the bank’s foray into multiple African markets came under the spotlight.

The African operations had suffered a loss of N2.9 billion and some analysts doubted if UBA’s rapid expansion across Africa was the right strategy and if it was anything but a distraction for its operations in Africa’s largest economy, where the bulk of its revenues came from.

However, over a decade later, any doubts swirling around that bold move have been somewhat quelled and the bank now relishes the bet it took on the continent.

That’s after the 19 African countries where it does business outside Nigeria now contribute nearly half of the Group’s total profit.

UBA’s (ex-Nigeria) African operations fetched N92.6 billion in profit in 2022, according to the bank’s annual financial statement, accounting for 46.1 percent of the total profit made by the company for the year.

The profit made in 2022 is more than double the N44.2 billion booked in 2018, with revenues also doubling in that period to N327 billion from N152 billion.

The bank’s African operations have turned the corner thanks to digital offerings and products that have helped grow the bank’s market share in those countries, according to Abiola Bawuah, the executive director & CEO of UBA Africa.

The performance “is a testament to the fact that our African subsidiaries have navigated successfully and have all found their footing,” Bawuah said.

The turbulence brought on by accelerating inflation, rising interest rates and currency devaluations in several African markets last year make the performance more impressive. Even the financial upset caused by Ghana’s debt crisis could not derail the bank.

“Of course, we are aware that there is always room for improvement, but for now, we are glad that our 19 subsidiaries are out of the red zone,” Bawuah added.

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In the area of infrastructure financing, Bawuah affirmed that UBA has been bullish in financing projects across Africa, which according to her is based on the conviction that the continent needs to bridge the infrastructural gap necessary for economic growth.

“UBA has proven expertise and capacity in key sectors of economies across Africa especially in oil and gas, infrastructure finance, agriculture and commodity/export, and these have positioned it as a preferred partner for structured solutions to key governments and corporates operating in/into Africa,” Bawuah said.

Bawuah who was speaking with journalists at the UBA Africa day event on Thursday said the bank has invested heavily and supported key governments of various African countries with over $1bn in infrastructural development especially in roads, hospitals, health, power and other critical sectors.

According to her, the bank has contributed massively in promoting trade in Africa, and has partnered with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), adding, “At UBA, we believe that our customers should be able to trade conveniently among themselves, and so we have been partnering with them in this area.

“We have made it easy for our customers across countries to trade easily within themselves, without having to bother about all the hassles that have to do with forex,” she said.

Bawuah, a Ghanaian national, was appointed as the first female CEO of UBA Africa this year, an appointment that further demonstrated the bank’s commitment to diversity. The Group Board now includes eight female Directors.

She was previously the CEO, UBA Ghana, and formerly Regional CEO, West Africa, supervising the operations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

UBA is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees’ group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally.

Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.