Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), parent company of Ecobank Ghana returned to profitability in 2017 after recording a loss in 2016.
ETI in 2017 made a profit of $182 million, compared to a loss of $39 million in 2016.
However, group-wide profit before tax stood at $288 million, compared to a loss of $131 million.
Speaking to journalists after ETI's annual general meeting held in Togo, Group Chief Executive, Ade Ayeyemi, said the marked improvement in 2016 was as a result of significant reduction in the impairment losses on loans and advances and greater discipline in managing the operations of the bank.
"Over the past two years, we have also focused on strengthening Ecobank's competitiveness and positioned the group to create shareholder value on the sustainable basis, I am confident that Ecobank's long-term success is assured," he said.
On the Bank of Ghana directive to commercial banks to increase their capital requirement Mr Ayeyemi said Ecobank Ghana had already met the new capital requirement of ¢400 million as well as some regulatory requirements.
He said the Group digital drive was beginning to yield results and would be further expanded adding that "our customer base growing by nearly 40 per cent, bring our medium-term target of 100 million customers within reach."
Ecobank's app processed nine million transactions worth over USD$ 1 billion in less than 18 months ago across 33 African countries.
On the bank's inability to pay dividend to shareholders, Group Chairman of Ecobank, Emmanuel Ikazoboh explained that parent ETI was working to meet regulatory requirements in some countries that it operates, citing Ghana as example.
"The Bank of Ghana's directive to increase minimum capital requirement meant that Ecobank, one of our subsidiaries most consistent dividend payer by amount had to subsequently reduce its dividend."
Additionally, he said Ecobank Cote d'Ivoire's initial public offering saw ETI's stake in it fall from 94 per cent to 75 per cent, with a proportional impact on ETI's divided income in the near term.
"Finally, earnings growth, overall, was stifled by higher credit losses and weak economic activity in middle Africa. As we address the former and the fragile recovery gains momentum, we expect resumption of earnings growth and, with it, likely dividend reinstatement," he said.
Mr Ikazoboh assured shareholders that the bank would resume dividend payments considering ETI's first quarter earnings.
Shareholders at the AGM lauded the 2017 performance of the bank but expressed concern about the bank's inability to pay dividend.
Speaker after speaker urged ETI to put measures in place to ensure that profitability was sustained.
The shareholders voted unanimously for all the resolutions tabled at the meeting.