Kigali — President Paul Kagame received a special recognition award during the African Bankers Awards 2014 ceremony that took place on the sidelines of the Africa Development Bank Meetings in Kigali last week.
According to a statement the award was in recognition of Rwanda's achievements which include spearheading the economic growth and transformation the country has achieved over the last 20 years.
Addressing guests at the event, Kagame thanked Rwandans who have sacrificed a much to put Rwanda where it is today.
"Rwandans have made me the kind of leader that I am and they have given me the strength that has added up to taking our country forward," he said.
This award recognizes the reforms, rapid modernization and expansion of banking and finance in Africa.
It also highlights those who have been instrumental in maintaining excellence and best practices along with the outstanding achievements of individuals and companies that have changed the perception of Africa's potential in domestic and international markets.
"As we celebrate, we must think about doing more and sustaining what we have achieved," Kagame said.
Omar Ben Yedder, the Publisher of African Banker Magazine, said Kagame has set a powerful benchmark of excellence for future generations of leaders to follow.
"The entries we received this year show transformational transactions in critical development areas such as power, transport and agriculture," Yedder said.
"Substantial projects are now being structured and financed by African banks in collaboration with international partners," he said.
"A decade ago, these deals would have been unimaginable in Sub-Saharan Africa - with the exception of South Africa," he said, citing the recent dual listing of Seplat, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas company, on both the Lagos and London primary exchanges.
He added that the exceptional role that banks are playing in driving innovation in Africa has been well documented, citing Kenya's Equity Bank also an example.
Kenya's Equity Bank shows the lead role banks are taking in coming up with new solutions to service the unbanked, creating new models of banking, he said.
However, while tremendous strides have been made by the industry as a whole, the industry is still being criticized for not contributing sufficiently to the 'real' economy and far too many people are still outside the formal banking structure.
"We are confident increased competition, as well as clear guidance and the right policy by regulators, will help channel capital to sectors and communities which have hitherto been excluded.
GTBank Nigeria was crowned African Bank of the year and Bank of Kigali came in as the best bank in East Africa.
The Icon award 2014 went to the President and CEO of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) Andrew Alli who said the corporation had been able to leverage the expertise of its professionals in originating, executing and delivering on infrastructure mandates.
According to the organizers of the event, over the years the quantity and quality of entries has been increasing which attests to the readiness of African banks and financial institutions to showcase to the world the good work they have been doing.