The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Nigeria is Ecobank’s Achilles heel

Africa’s most ambitious homegrown regional bank has a problem, and it is called Nigeria. If it doesn’t solve it, the Nigerian business will hamper Ecobank’s goal of banking 100 million people across the rest of the continent.

Virginia Furness Africa 1920px.jpg

Nigeria is Ecobank’s biggest market and also its Achilles heel – a drain on capital that is severely hindering its business elsewhere. The bank’s issues in Nigeria are threefold: its local subsidiary is blighted by low profitability, which is in turn exacerbated by both a cost burden and a stock of impaired loans that dwarfs those of its market peers.

Given that Nigeria is Ecobank’s largest single market and accounts for 24% of the group’s balance sheet, the weak growth and volatile asset quality it reports are critical to the group’s overall performance.

“Nigeria is by far our most challenging place,” Alain Nkontchou, who was named chairman of Ecobank in July, tells Euromoney. “We believe that the way to recovery is there, and as far as I am concerned it is very high on our agenda to solve the Nigerian problem once and for all.”

Elsewhere, Ecobank is in a great place. At a group level, many of its big bets on technology are paying off. In 2019, it added 4 million retail customers, and brought a small army of previously unbanked sole traders and small businesses into the formal economy.


You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?