Our societal responsibility is at the heart of our growth model and our corporate strategy. We are committed to greater transparency and relevance of our actions to our stakeholders.
« In a context of unprecedented crisis, our objective of maintaining quality of service to our customers remains a priority. Our organization stands ready to support a return to growth in our countries of presence and continue the development of our activities in markets with good prospects. »
Vincent LE GUENNOU
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Orabank Group
Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors
Our Values for Growth
The world is facing a pandemic on an unprecedented scale, resulting in a health and economic crisis that particularly affects the African continent. It is in this context that we must ensure our resilience in an increasingly chaotic and difficult context. The health crisis of COVID-19 remains an event that could have a significant impact on the group’s performance, and we are preparing to limit, as far as possible, the effects of this crisis on our activities, in particular with the support of the central banks and certain states in our areas of presence. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our group quickly took the necessary steps to continue serving our clients while ensuring their safety and that of our employees, in compliance with the recommendations of the authorities. We will never compromise on this point.
The year 2020 was marked by the pandemic at COVID-19. Despite the difficult context that followed, the group continued its efforts to achieve its objectives and managed to maintain a dynamic of strong growth in its activities and an improvement in its operating ratios. The Group ended 2020 with a balance sheet total of CFAF 3,268.2 billion, up 24% compared to December 31, 2019. Customer deposits for the entire Orabank network amounted to CFAF 2,124 billion and customer receivables to CFAF 1,584.8 billion, representing increases of 17% and 16% respectively. In total, the Group posted net banking income of 155.4 billion CFAF and consolidated net income of 9.4 billion CFAF. Net banking revenue grew by 5.8%, thanks to a very good performance in terms of net interest margin and a preservation of the commission level despite the health crisis. This performance of GNP, combined with the freezing of certain expense lines, has enabled the improvement of the operating coefficient from 68.3% in 2019 to 64.7% in 2020. These figures have reflected the operational efficiency of our Group, which is present in 12 countries and has more than 2,000 employees in 166 agencies and sales outlets. On 17 July 2020, Oragroup S.A paid its shareholders a total net dividend of 4,131 billion CFAF (6,197 million euros) for the financial year 2019.
Our management of the health crisis
In the long term, the growth potential of our markets remains high. Economic policies will need to find ways to finance growth that maintain a sustainable debt level. Greater mobilization of domestic savings, locally invested capital, and the development of intra-African trade seem to be credible leads. Our goal of maintaining high levels of service to our customers remains a priority. We continue to explore opportunities to enter carefully selected markets with good growth prospects. Despite a difficult environment, our teams continue their efforts to achieve a satisfactory result for our shareholders in strict cost discipline and rigorous risk management. The Board of Directors thanks the Board members for their guidance and support, and all the employees for the efforts they are all making together to bring to fruition these great advances that allow us to develop our future-oriented Banking Group in a sustainable manner.
According to World Bank projections, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to show a moderate recovery in 2021, with a growth rate of 2.7%. The recovery in consumption and private investment may be slower than previously expected, but exports are expected to accelerate gradually, as major trading partners revive their activities. But these prospects are exposed to several downside risks that the financial sector faces. In this context, the group still notes uncertainty about the return to the pre-crisis level of activities and anticipates that growth could increase moderately in 2021. The group remains mobilized to explore structured finance operations and assist subsidiaries in structuring transactions. Offers of financing arrangements were thus sent in collaboration with the subsidiaries to several clients or prospects of the group. Structured finance activity should logically be increased by the capital needs of governments and private sector companies, particularly in the agricultural sector, health and education. In terms of strategic perspectives, the group has developed strategic studies for better management of its holdings, notably in Mauritania and Chad. In addition, the group finalized its new strategic plan 2021 – 2025, which is expected to build strong resilience in an uncertain environment.
Following the 2020 financial year accounts of the Pan-African banking group Oragroup at its Board of Directors, the balance sheet for the first quarter of 2021 confirms the positive trend in which the group has been following for several years. Oragroup thus posted excellent performances for this first part of the year with a 314% increase in net profit, against a backdrop of moderate economic recovery in sub-Saharan Africa. Orabank also continues its strategy of continuous support to the economies of its countries of presence with a 10% increase in credit outstanding and a collection of customer resources of more than 446 billion compared to the situation at 31 March 2020.
Oragroup thus posted a net result of 2,664 billion CFAF as at March 31, 2021. Customer deposits for the entire Orabank network amounted to 2,261 billion CFA francs, and net customer loans amounted to 1,675 billion CFAF, an increase of 25% and 10% respectively compared to the same period last year. In total, the Group posted a net banking income of 44 billion CFA francs in the 1st quarter of 2021, up 16%. These figures confirm Oragroup’s resilience with key figures significantly improving compared to the same period in 2020, notably by the good performance of intermediation activities (+35%) and the increase observed on commissions (+2%). In addition, the pre-tax result more than doubled, and the first quarter net result is significantly improving with an increase of more than 2 billion CFAF year-on-year. For 2021 and despite this difficult context linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams continue their efforts to achieve a satisfactory result for our shareholders in strict cost discipline and increasingly fine-grained and rigorous risk management. We continue to mobilize all our employees around these objectives, while welcoming not only their commitment to serving our clients, but also their resilience during this difficult period. Our organization stands ready to support a return to growth in our countries of presence and to continue the development of our activities.
Message from the CEO
Ferdinand NGON KEMOUM is the Managing Director of Orabank SA, holding company of the Orabank banking group, present in twelve West and Central African countries. He was previously Managing Director and Partner of Emerging Capital Partners (USA), the first investment fund to raise and invest more than $3 billion in Africa. He has also served as President and CEO of FINADEV Africa Holding, a microfinance group. During his career, Ferdinand NGON KEMOUM has held management positions in several banks (Amity Bank Cameroon, LOITA Capital Partners International, Banque Continentale Africaine Rwanda). He has also served as Managing Director of Framlington Asset Management Central Africa growth Fund, an investment fund dedicated to CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). Ferdinand NGON KEMOUM, a native of Cameroon, holds a master’s degree in economics (University of Lille 1) and a graduate degree in financial and banking institutions management from the University of Paris IX – Dauphine. He also received training at the Institut Technique de Banque de Paris and the Institut d’Administration des Banquiers de la Nouvelle-Orléans (USA).
A true citizen of the world, Ferdinand NGON KEMOUM speaks French, English and several Cameroonian and African languages. He defines himself as a man of the present, with an appetite to support a forward-looking and positive long-term vision.
1. How does Orabank’s daily corporate commitment in your banking profession materialize?
In Africa and in our countries of operation, poverty is an ultimate systemic risk. The years that have passed reinforce this conviction. Our efforts to protect the environment are hampered by the extreme poverty of the population. Each of our actions must make it possible to reverse this scourge, in order to participate in the development of the African continent. Therefore, Orabank Group’s CSR strategy is based on this societal approach. We have set a priority objective of economic support for SMEs. According to the World Bank and our financial backers, 90% of the companies are SMEs. The dynamism of these SMEs creates jobs. The employability of young people is also a real challenge on the African continent and in our markets. The age structure of our continent shows a large young age group that will have to enter the labor market in the next decade. The real challenge in our countries is to offer them jobs outside the informal economy. We have understood that informal jobs are a real threat to the environment, such as small street vendors. These jobs are becoming more widespread without taking into account sustainable development issues such as plastics and recycling. It is essential to put in place a strategy to better integrate the informal sector, which we define as « better formalize the » informal sector. The second is to direct capital towards SMEs. It is in this context that the Orabank Group is making its daily commitment a reality.
In 2020, the Orabank Group continued to deploy important actions to support SMEs:
- Signing of a 50 million Euro agreement with BIDC to support the economic dynamism of SMEs in the 8 WAEMU countries.
- Implementation of a 20 million Euro agreement with the African Agriculture Investment Fund to guide operators towards sustainable and profitable agricultural practices. The objective is to better finance the agricultural and rural sector in order to combat the impoverishment of the countryside and the current climate difficulties originating from a large rural exodus. Orabank helps to strengthen the business model of these activities to ensure the survival and development of the sector.
2. Responsible finance is spreading and financial players are putting forward ESG criteria. In this context, is Orabank a pioneer?
Considering the history of Orabank’s corporate actions and the integration of ESG issues into the Group’s processes, we can say that Orabank is in a pioneering position that we intend to maintain. The Group was indeed among the first commercial banks to address these issues related to sustainable finance, in a context sometimes difficult to understand the themes by the markets. Also, since 2011, with the implementation of the tool SYMRES (System for Management of Environmental and Social Risks), a response has been provided following friendly pressure from our investors. They were and are seeking better prevention of systemic risks. In the field, this sustainable finance approach is supported by Orabank’s teams in charge of our clients. These collaborators must show a lot of pedagogy because of a lack of CSR culture. Orabank has a strategic vision for its medium- and long-term development and financial stability, and our development cannot be based on a short-term gain vision that would undermine our common future. We hope that the African financial system is organized around strict ESG criteria that will allow companies to develop on a solid and sustainable basis. As we have an infrastructure and institutional framework that prepares us to welcome impact funds, we have initiated discussions with them to reorient our activities. The objective is to take better account of specific and priority themes such as the financing of agriculture and renewable energies and to place them permanently at the heart of the banking profession. Indeed, rural and peri-urban issues are directly associated with poverty and populations far from the banking system. We must therefore promote financial inclusion with a product offering that meets the expectations of these customers. Against a backdrop of accelerated urbanization on the continent, these financial inclusion issues are vital to Africa’s development.
3. We are entering a chaotic period on a global level; how do you see the resilience of the Orabank Group in this context?
The word resilience has taken on much importance since the health crisis. Ours is based on 3 aspects: the resilience of markets, our continued ability to adapt and the banking through digitalization. For the Orabank Group, the resilience of our markets was a welcome surprise. During these moments of uncertainty, and after an initial period of decline, we can say that our markets have shown some resilience. They held on without collapsing. This tends to show that our markets have the resources to rebound. The study of the informal sector confirms the underlying opportunity of this sector, and the existence of pockets of growth and resilience still hidden. Secondly, Orabank has demonstrated an ability to adapt and develop new intervention modalities that have resulted in good financial statements. On a human level, the Group has faced many challenges related to a reorganization of work. This naturally prompts us to think about new modalities. Telework has become a normal practice, with the use of screens to ensure continuity of our services. We have been able to propose new financial, organizational, and technological solutions that are very relevant, relying on digitalization that has made it possible to reduce social distance. Orabank continues its development of digital banking in the bank service of unbanked people. Resilience through financial inclusion has been at the rendezvous for Orabank. The pandemic did not change the long-term vision of the Orabank model as the Group was already engaged in digitalization. Nevertheless, the health crisis has prompted Orabank to move faster and more proactively. It imposed change despite hesitation and theoretical objections. Thanks to banking mobility, Orabank offers banking and financial inclusion services. It should be stressed that the legislative and regulatory framework accompanies these developments and the alignment between the actors on the ground and the regulators is a fact.
4. What are the Group’s competencies to strengthen financial inclusion? What alliances need to be put in place to strengthen you?
By its very nature, the bank does not have the technology to process small volumes profitably. For example, the cost of processing a bank transaction in an agency is 30 times higher than a digital transaction. Digitalization is aimed at digitally important populations while allowing small transactions to be processed. Digitalization therefore makes it possible to offer services to the smallest income groups in the financial sphere. For years, Oragroup has established itself as a major support for African SMEs and SMIs. Today, the group goes further in its commitment, focusing on previously neglected segments of the population. To save time, Orabank accelerates its approach and partners with an operator specialized in these clients. In 2020, Oragroup and Axian entered an alliance to strengthen financial inclusion. Pan-African groups Oragroup – present in 12 countries of West and Central Africa – and Axian – present in 6 countries of the Indian Ocean and the African continent, intend to take advantage of the digital revolution to offer innovative financial services (electronic currencies, mobile financial services, online nano-savings…) to the most modest populations of the continent. Orabank therefore seeks to use this know-how to provide services to small customers. Through this merger, Oragroup branches and subsidiaries will join various mobile operators, with the objective of offering quality digital financial services to targeted users. In Togo, a pilot phase has already been launched: Orabank Togo and the operator Togocom will soon launch the MBanking service.
5. In the face of the climate emergency, what is your vision for the positioning of the Orabank Group?
The Group sees an opportunity for Orabank to take the lead in financing the climate emergency. It intends to stay ahead of the climate issue in order to remain a pioneer in this field. We are already an important player in structured financing for green growth and renewable energy financing for solar. We have successfully deployed the credit lines made available by lenders, but we want to be more proactive in developing products to promote these technologies in our markets. Discussions are under way to conclude agreements with major manufacturers with the aim of increasing photovoltaic capacity in our countries and to contribute actively to the responses to this climate emergency. Beyond the demands of donors or international organizations, our countries are ready to engage in the battle against climate change because they are hit hard by extreme weather events causing rural exodus due to the decline of water points and pasture. The bank must exercise its responsibility and seize the opportunity to bring solutions to slow climate change. One of the major constraints of our countries is the production and distribution of electricity. Off-grid solutions could solve the problem of distribution through channels that cost a lot to deploy. Solar power would enable the deployment of autonomous energy production solutions very quickly. Our countries also have primary forests that can be true renewable carbon sinks. All these tracks must be transformed into concrete action plans. Africa presents challenges and also enormous opportunities. The Orabank Group is mobilizing all its human, organizational, material and financial capacities to unleash positive energies in this fight against climate.
The objective is also to reduce the Group’s carbon footprint and the installation of solar panels on our agencies is already under way. The Orabank Group is also committed to reducing its own emissions from its operations and direct activities, by developing its low-carbon strategy.
6. What are the prospects for 2021?
The aim is to maintain the 2021 outlook linked to a recovery at macro-economic level, which will be better oriented towards priority directions such as rural development. This will carry the growth momentum of the African continent. The Orabank Group, in early 2021, redesigned its strategic plan, in the context of a pandemic, to capitalize on our resilience springs. It is important to mention that the signing of continental free trade can be a source of a real economic rebound in our markets, as it will make it possible to rebuild local value chains that are fairer and more ecological. We see the roots of sustainable growth for Orabank’s projects.