Ecobank Ghana has delivered very strong profit before tax growth of 41 per cent year- on-year to GH₵506 million as at December 2018.
The increased profitability performance was anchored on strong revenue growth, lower impairment charges coupled with successful execution of cost containment strategies.
Revenues went up 17 per cent to GH₵1.3 billion with excellent contribution from all the bank's business units.
Mr Terence Darko, the Board Chairman, addressing the bank's annual general meeting in Accra said although, the banking industry was yet to fully recover from the aftershocks of the withdrawal of licences, mergers, consolidation and the voluntary exit of about 11 banks, Ecobank Ghana had weathered the storm due to its robust risk and capital management structures.
"We are confident however that the sector is on a positive path and will ultimately be stronger and better placed to provide the needed services to all customers," he said.
Customer deposits grew by 20 per cent to end the year at GH₵1.82 billion, compared to GH₵1.52 billion in 2017. The increase was largely driven by growth in savings and current deposits anchored on agency banking and digital deposit mobilisation drive.
Customer loans at the end of the year was GH₵384 million representing a 40 per cent growth year on year.
Mr Darko said the bank had made significant progress on the troubled energy sector loan book with the part payment of the outstanding receivables from government.
"We are confident of a full resolution in 2019, following the completion of a government commissioned verification process for the outstanding amount attributable to government. In 2019, we expect to be able to term out the residual BDC exposure through series of bilateral negotiations with the companies involved," he said.
In line with the above, our impairment charges for 2018 reduced by 26% from GH₵174 million to GH₵129 million, largely driven by the above mentioned part payment and the lower provisioning on a healthier loan book compared to the previous year, he said.
Mr Darko said to put the bank on a strong path through continued investment, the bank was unable to pay cash dividend in 2018.
"We expect to deliver greater shareholder value growth through increased revenue generation and cost management. I firmly believe that we are on the right path and that the changes that we have seen in the banking industry will lead to sustainable growth in the future for all our stakeholders," he said.
Mr Daniel Sackey, Managing Director, in an interview with the media after the meeting said the bank would continue to leverage on its digital platform to support government's agenda to deepen financial inclusion and promote a cash-lite society as well as to enhance customers' satisfaction.
Currently, he said, over 78 per cent of banking transactions were conducted via the digital technology platforms deployed by the bank.
"Our range of products and services meet the day-to-day banking, financing, investment and transactional needs of our customers. We remain focused on delivering on our commitment to be the leading consumer financial services franchise in Ghana," he said.
Explaining the reason why the shareholders would not be paid dividend Mr Sackey said that the bank is still in the process of building its reserve before declaring dividends.
He said, "Meeting the GH₵400 million capital requirements is not the end of the game but it is key that you maintain the appropriate capital levels to support the business. If you look at Ecobank's position on the market and balance sheet and revenue generation capacity, it's important that we maintain adequate capital."
"We did that last year by moving income surplus to, first of all, meet the requirements and also to ensure that we have adequate buffers to support what we do. This year we will continue to build on those buffers to boost the operations and without adequate capital, we won't be able to make it," Mr Sackey added.