Awards for excellence - Regional awards - Africa
Africa remains high-risk, though profits are attainable. Citibank's presence and product depth gain it the best bank award, though HSBC also deserves praise. Simon Brady
Africa remains the most difficult and least transparent regional market covered by Euromoney. Although banking operations in the region can be extremely profitable in terms of margin, in absolute terms these profits are tiny in comparison with those made elsewhere. In 2000 for example Standard Chartered made £70 million in Africa - compared with £50 million in the UAE alone. The risks remain high. Few countries have functioning debt and equity markets, and most business is either with governments or the agencies helping them. Two of the largest markets, Ghana and Zimbabwe, are suffering severe problems and in any case are not self-sufficient economies, having been sustained by aid flows. Local institutions, many unlisted, almost all unresearched, act primarily as channels for donor financing and capital flight. And those foreign banks that do maintain local operations across the continent can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Barclays and Standard Chartered, operating in many of the same markets, had markedly different experiences over the past 12 months. In 2000 Barclays grew profits in Africa 24% to £122 million while Standard Chartered shrank theirs 33% from £105 million.