On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to present the Annual Report and audited Financial Statements of the United Bank for Africa Plc for the year ended 31 December 2022.
2022 has been an extraordinary year in many ways, amid the conflict in Ukraine, the continued impact, not least in Africa, of climate change and the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Group navigated the challenging economic landscape successfully, implementing strategic initiatives that yielded significant improvements in customer experience, enhanced our growth prospects and delivered market share accretion and profitability during the year.
We were the first sub–Saharan African bank to open a regulated branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre, further demonstrating our commitment to the mission to be Africa’s Global Bank. Our ability to serve both African clients and global clients interacting with Africa, is a significant element in our differentiation in service offering. As our financial performance indicates, we continue to benefit from our broad geographical reach and ability to service clients globally.
These achievements were made possible by our clear strategy, the quality of our platform and the professionalism, dedication and commitment displayed by colleagues throughout the Group.
Before reviewing our performance, let me provide some context.
In 2022, the global economy was negatively impacted by a combination of factors. These included a faster-than-expected pace in tightening of global financial conditions, as central banks of developed economies attempted to contain inflation, that proved much higher and more persistent than originally anticipated. China’s aggressive zero-covid policies continued to impact growth in Asia.
Uncertainty remains a significant feature in 2023 and the macro-environment will remain challenging. In its latest World Economic Outlook, released on 30 January 2023, the International Monetary Fund upwardly revised its global growth forecasts for 2023, but highlighted the uncertainties caused by ongoing higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine. The IMF predicted that the world would grow by 2.9% in 2023, below the 3.4% recorded in 2022.
In Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), one of the most challenging macroeconomic factors is rapidly rising inflation, reducing household purchasing power and hurting industry. Currency weakness in many SSA markets, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, increased import costs, adding to already rising price pressures. The combination of inflation and foreign exchange weakness triggered significant monetary tightening by central banks in SSA markets. SSA countries that have seen the most aggressive tightening cycles in 2022 are Ghana (1,250bps increase to 27.00%), Malawi (600bps increase to 18%), Nigeria (500bps increase to 16.5%), Mozambique (400bps increase to 17.25%) and Uganda (350bps increase to 10%).
Currency weakness has also created fiscal challenges as the burden of foreign debt repayments have risen. The currencies that recorded the sharpest depreciation in 2022 include the Ghanaian cedi, the Ugandan shilling, the Sierra Leonean leone, and the Ethiopian birr.
Despite the significant macro-economic challenges, UBA performed extremely well, benefiting from the diversification of revenue from our unique African footprint and continued investment in our businesses in global financial centres.
Among the many performance highlights, gross earnings for the year grew by 31% to N853 billion, from N660 billion reported in 2021. Profit before tax was N201 billion, an increase of 31.2% on the prior year.
Total assets increased 27.1% to N10.9 trillion, while deposits grew 28.1% to N9 trillion and shareholder’s funds increased 14.6% to N922billion.
In terms of asset quality, the non-performing loans (NPL) ratio improved to 3.1% from 3.6% in 2021, a tribute to our capacity to manage risk and volatility.
We closed 2022 with a Capital Adequacy Ratio of 28.3%, comfortably exceeding the regulatory minimum, and reinforcing our financial strength. These results are particularly significant, when viewed in the context of the macroeconomic uncertainty and volatility in the Group’s key operating geographies during the financial year.
STAYING ON MISSION
Complementing the outstanding performance within our businesses, we also achieved several other notable accomplishments during the fiscal year. In particular, the Group commenced operations in the United Arab Emirates, opening our fourth office in international financial centres outside Africa. With the Group’s entry into the Gulf, UBA continues to focus on its strategic intent to lead the way in doing business in Africa. Collaborating with our franchise in 20 African countries and the major financial centres of London, New York and Paris, UBA UAE (DIFC Branch) will facilitate the financing of trade and investment transactions between the Middle East and Africa, together with offering the Group an entry point into Asian markets.
AN ENGAGED TEAM
The diversity of our employees in terms of competence, ca pacity and experience, is an important source of our competitive advantage. We invest continuously in our people. Over the span of more than seven decades of our operation, we have created an enviable pool of experienced, committed and highly competent personnel.
We have put in place a tested talent management approach that enables us to build and deploy a highly specialised expertise in banking through people development, a performance-driven reward system and highly efficient human resource management tools.
RETIREMENT OF DIRECTORS
In the course of the year 2022, two Non-Executive Directors retired from the Board.
Ambassador Joe Keshi retired from the Board in August 2022 after twelve years of meritorious service to the Group. He served as Vice Chairman of the Board from August 2014, till the date of his retirement.
High Chief Samuel Oni also retired from the Board as Non-Executive Director in December 2022, after eight years of note-worthy service. He was the Chair of the Board Risk Management Committee prior to his retirement.
I would therefore like to extend my sincere appreciation to these two great ambassadors of ours for their invaluable contribution to UBA.
The year also saw important changes within the UBA executive team, in line with our Group’s Succession Plan. In August, following the expiration of executive tenures and a lifetime of exceptional service to our Group, we announced the retirement of members of our Executive Team headed by our erstwhile CEO and Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka. Retiring alongside Kennedy were Chukwuma Nweke, Ibrahim Puri, Uche Ike and Chiugo Ndubisi.
I would like to thank Kennedy, Chukwuma, Ibrahim, Uche and Chiugo for the leadership provided to the Group in truly engraining a customer-first culture and accelerating our business transformation, the outcomes of which are evident in the Group’s results as reported here today.
In line with our Succession Plan, the Board appointed Oliver Alawuba, our erstwhile Deputy Managing Director, to take on the reins of leadership of the Group as Group Managing Director/CEO. Oliver brings over 25 years of banking and financial services experience, with a reputation for strategic insight and focused execution.
Other executive appointments include Muyiwa Akinyemi as Deputy Managing Director, Abiola Bawuah as Executive Director, UBA Africa, Sola Yomi-Ajayi as Executive Director, Treasury and International Banking, Ugochukwu Nwaghodoh as Executive Director, Finance and Risk Management, Emem Usoro as Executive Director, North Bank, and Alex Alozie as Executive Director and Group Chief Operating Officer. These leadership appointments further positions UBA to lead as we progress in the new year with a core goal of delivering value for our customers and shareholders.
As a global corporate citizen, we are making significant steps to incorporate sustainability into our processes, and are pleased to be publishing our third, Sustainability Report.
2023 signifies a key milestone year for the Group, as it is the year that we commemorate our 75th Anniversary. It is therefore a year in which we will make a clear performance statement towards our intent of industry leadership in Africa.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude and best wishes to my colleagues on the Board, whose vision and valuable counsel have propelled the Group forward.
I congratulate the Group CEO, Mr. Oliver Alawuba and the rest of the executive team for their excellent leadership, applaud the drive and commitment of all our colleagues that are instrumental in delivering the results set out in this report.
My appreciation also goes out to our regulators, our valuable customers, business partners and all other stakeholders who have partnered us in this exciting journey of growth.
Tony O. Elumelu, CFR
Chairman, Board of Director