Arusha, Tanzania – Africa’s Top Bankers were honoured at the 6th edition of the African Banker Awards for their outstanding talent and achievement in Africa’s financial sector.

The most moving episode of the evening came when Ecobank CEO, Arnold Ekpe, now regarded as a living legend among the continent’s bankers, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the founder and chairman of IC Publications, (publisher of African Banker), Afif Ben Yedder. Ekpe was given a standing ovation. Ecobank had more reason to celebrate the evening, when the Togo based African multinational beat a very strong challenge to emerge as the Bank of the Year.

There were more cheers when Ethiopia’s Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder and managing director of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was named as this year’s African Banker Icon. She follows in the footsteps of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Adebayo Ogunlesi who were previous winners.

Olusegun Agbaje, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Nigeria scooped the prize for African Banker of the year. He was presented with his Trophy by Tim Turner, Director of the Private Sector Operations of the African Development Bank at the picturesque Frangipani Gardens, where the Awards ceremony took place.

The Best Regional Bank winners from each of the five regions of Africa were: Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco for North Africa; BGFI, Gabon for Central Africa; Bank of Kigali, Rwanda for East Africa; Access Bank, Nigeria for West Africa; and BCI, Mozambique for Southern Africa- thus highlighting Africa’s diversity but strength as one continent.

Among those who attended this prestigious pan African event in Arusha, Tanzania, which for the first time was held under marquees on an open field in the shadow of two of Africa’s most magnificent mountains, Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjo were the Ministers of Finance of Djibouti, Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, as well as a number of central bank governors and high profile bank CEOs.

As the 450 guests enjoyed their dinner in one of East Africa’s most spectacular landscapes, with the world-famous Ngorogoro national park only a few hours drive away, Omar ben Yedder said: We have recognised some superb individuals and institutions tonight.

Africa’s financial sector is a major vehicle for driving the economic growth that has become the talk of the investor community around the world. We have honoured individuals who are prepared to take the bull by the horn, to carry out well thought out visions and who have raised the bar and in some cases taken difficult decisions to deliver on their agenda.

Good examples are the Central Bank Governor of Tunisia and the Finance Minister of Guinea. The winners this year represent a good mix between francophone and Anglophone Africa, big and small countries. They reflect the achievements in banking and finance all over Africa.”

The annual African Banker Awards are organised by African Banker Magazine, IC Events and BusinessinAfrica Events. It is a landmark event that celebrates excellence and best practices in African banking and finance.Mediterranean Smart Cards Company (MSCC) is the Platinum sponsor for this year’s African Banker Awards. Other sponsors include Bank of Industry, Harland Financial Solutions, Ecobank Nedbank Alliance, Giesecke & Devrient, Air Charter Logistics, AfreximBank, Africa Re, Africa Finance Corporation, and the Tunisian based BIAT.