Our responsibility for sustainability 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.
« Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that is still raging around the world and on the African continent, Oragroup’s teams are continuing their efforts in terms of performance in the countries where the group is present. Our organization is accompanying a return to growth and continuing to develop our activities. »
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Orabank Group
« Orabank has a strategic vision for its medium and long-term development and financial stability. Our growth cannot be based on a short-term vision of gain that undermines our common future and our responsibility to our society and our environment. »
CEO of Orabank Group

Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors

Our values and commitment to growth
The disruptions to economic activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent containment measures in 2020 diminished in 2021. However, the recovery of the global economy has remained uneven. Uncertainty and a rebound in manufacturing resulted in higher metal and energy prices. Manufacturing output and trade have now returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, this is not yet the case for the services sector. The global economy is estimated to grow by 5.5% according to a World Bank report published in January 2022. This represents a rebound from 2020, supported largely by a few large economies. Output contracted by 3.7% in 2020 in sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in this area, according to the latest World Bank trends, is estimated at 3.5% in 2021. It should reach 3.6% in 2022. We must ensure our resilience in an increasingly volatile and difficult context. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the resulting disruptions have added further elements of uncertainty.
Our teams are continuing their efforts and are contributing to the return of growth in the countries where the group operates. I would like to thank all the employees of the Orabank Group across all our countries of presence for their dedication and commitment to our customers and partners. I remain very confident in our ability to continue to create value for all our stakeholders. The Group is also showing remarkable performance for the year 2021. This confirms the positive momentum we have been building for several years.

The Orabank Group closed the 2021 financial year with a total balance sheet of CFAF 4,058 billion, up 25% compared to December 31, 2020. Customer deposits across the Orabank network amounted to CFAF 2,583 billion and customer loans to CFAF 1,946 billion, representing increases of 22% and 23% respectively. In total, the Group posted net banking income of CFAF 187 billion and consolidated net income of CFAF 19 billion. Net banking income rose by 20.6% thanks to a very good performance in terms of net interest margin and a preservation of the level of commissions despite the health crisis. These figures confirm the operational efficiency of our Group, which is present in 12 countries and has more than 2,200 employees in 166 branches and sales outlets.

Our strategic vision
In the long term, the growth potential of our markets remains high. Public economic policies will have to find ways to finance growth that maintain a sustainable level of debt. A stronger mobilization of domestic savings, locally invested capital, and the development of intra-African trade seem to be credible avenues. Our objective of maintaining high levels of service to our clients remains a priority. We continue to explore opportunities to enter carefully selected markets with good growth prospects.
Despite the difficult environment, our teams are continuing their efforts to achieve a satisfactory result for our shareholders, while maintaining strict cost discipline and rigorous risk management. The Board of Directors would like to thank its members for their guidance and support, and all the employees for the efforts they are making together to achieve these major advances, which will enable us to develop our forward-looking banking group in a sustainable manner.
Outlook 2022
According to the World Bank, global growth is expected to slow in 2022 and 2023 to 4.1% and 3.2%, respectively, from 5.5% in 2021. This decline is due to the slowdown in the catching up of demand and the fiscal and monetary support measures around the world. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is an additional blow, with a more pronounced slowdown in growth and price increases already being seen in most economies. The year 2022 will therefore be another challenging year given these uncertainties and the political crises in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Despite these uncertainties, our strategic objectives for 2022 remain valid and the entire team remains mobilized to execute the various projects planned for this year. Indeed, we have forecast a clear improvement in the group’s return on equity and assets to 18% and 1% respectively by 2022, a level of customer deposits that should pass the CFAF 3,000 billion mark by December 31, 2022 with an average cost of funds below 3%. The financing of the economies of our countries of presence should continue after the good performance achieved in the growth of the loan and securities portfolio. As a reminder, the six main thrusts of our new 2021 – 2025 strategic plan, with the vision of building a leading banking group that participates in financing the sustainable development of an emerging Africa, are summarized below:
  • Axis 1: Strengthen our client focus for more sustainable and quality revenue growth
  • Axis 2: Controlling the management of our risks and the quality of our portfolios
  • Axis 3: Accelerate the deployment of our digital offering and transformation
  • Axis 4: Strengthen group coordination, efficiency and profitability
  • Axis 5: Develop and retain human capital
  • Axis 6: Strengthen financial solidity 
We continue to mobilize all of our employees around these objectives while saluting their creativity, their sense of ethics, their commitment to serving our clients and their resilience during this very special period. For the year 2022 and despite this difficult context linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the events in Ukraine, our organization is counting on its resilience and flexibility to support 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 the ultimate systemic risk. The years that have passed reinforce this conviction. Our efforts to protect the environment are hampered by the extreme poverty of certain populations. Each of our actions must help to reduce this scourge, in order to participate in the development of the African continent. Consequently, the Orabank Group’s CSR strategy is based on this societal approach. We have made it a priority to provide economic support to SMEs. According to the World Bank and other multilateral donors, SMEs account for 90% of undertakings. The dynamism of these SMEs is remarkable in terms of job creation. The employability of young people is also a real challenge on the African continent and in our markets. The age pyramid 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 of presence is to offer them jobs outside the informal economy. We understand that informal jobs serve as a social buffer, but if we are not careful, they can pose a real threat to the environment and human rights. I am thinking, for example, of the use of underage children as street vendors. These jobs are becoming widespread without taking into consideration the challenges of sustainable development. For example, these small urban jobs have a negative effect on the use of plastic packaging that is not very recyclable. It is essential to put in place a strategy to better integrate the informal sector, which we define as “better formalizing the informal”. It is then a question of directing capital towards SMEs. It is in this context that the Orabank Group makes its commitment concrete on a daily basis.
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 social actions and the integration of ESG issues in the Group’s processes, we can say that Orabank occupies 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 that was sometimes difficult due to a lack of understanding of the issues by the markets. Also, since 2011, with the implementation of the SYMRES tool (Environmental and Social Risk Management System), a response has been provided following friendly pressure from our investors. They were and still are looking for better prevention of environmental risks. In the field, this sustainable finance approach is supported by Orabank’s teams in charge of our clients. These employees have to do a lot of teaching because of a lack of CSR culture. Orabank has a strategic vision of its development and financial stability in the medium and long term. Our development cannot be based on a vision of short-term gain that would weaken our common future. We hope that the African financial system will be organized around strict ESG criteria that will allow companies to develop on a solid and sustainable basis. As we have an infrastructure and institutional set-up that prepares us to welcome impact funds, we have initiated discussions with them to better reorient our activities towards actions with measurable impact. The objective is to better take into account specific and priority themes such as the financing of agriculture and renewable energy and to make them a permanent part of our banking business. Indeed, rural and peri-urban issues are directly associated with poverty and populations that are far from the banking system. We must therefore promote financial inclusion by offering products that meet the expectations of these customers. Against a backdrop of accelerated urbanization on the continent, these financial inclusion issues are vital for 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 become very important since the health crisis. Our resilience is based on 3 aspects: the resilience of the markets, our continuous capacity to adapt and the banking through digitalization. During these moments of uncertainty, and after an initial period of hindsight, we can say that our markets have shown a certain resilience. This was a pleasant surprise for us. They have held up without collapsing. This tends to show that our markets have the resources to rebound. The study of the informal sector confirms to us 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 modalities of intervention that have resulted in very good financial statements in 2021. On the human front, the Group has taken up many challenges related to a reorganization of work. This naturally leads us to reflect on new modalities. Telecommuting has become the norm, with the use of digital tools allowing the continuity of our services. We have been able to propose new financial, organizational and technological solutions that are highly relevant, relying on digitalization to reduce social distance. Orabank continues to develop as a digital bank serving the banking needs of the unbanked. Resilience through financial inclusion has been the key to Orabank’s success. The pandemic did not change the long-term vision of Orabank’s model because the Group was already committed to digitalization. Nevertheless, the health crisis has pushed Orabank to move faster and more proactively. Digitalization imposes change despite hesitations and theoretical objections. Thanks to banking mobility, Orabank offers banking and financial inclusion services. It should be noted that the legislative and regulatory framework is accompanying these developments and the alignment between the field and the regulators is an established fact.
4. What are the Group’s competencies to strengthen financial inclusion? What alliances need to be put in place to strengthen you?
Because of its traditional organization, the bank does not have the systems and technologies to process very small volume transactions profitably. For example, the cost of processing certain basic banking operations in a branch is 30 times higher than processing them digitally. Digitization addresses digitally important populations while allowing the processing of small transactions. Digitization therefore makes it possible to offer services to the smallest incomes in the financial sphere. Oragroup has established itself over the years as a major supporter of African SMEs and SMIs. Today, the group is pursuing its commitment to focus on previously neglected segments of the population. To save time, Orabank is accelerating its approach and partnering with an operator specializing in these clienteles. In 2021, Oragroup and Axian are pursuing an alliance to strengthen financial inclusion. The pan-African groups Oragroup – present in 12 countries in West and Central Africa – and Axian – present in 6 countries in the Indian Ocean and on the African continent – intend to take advantage of the digital revolution to offer innovative financial services (electronic money, mobile financial services, online nano-savings, etc.) to the continent’s most modest populations. Oragroup is committed to signing new partnerships that enable greater banking inclusion. For example, in 2021, Orabank Ivory Coast and Wave Ivory Coast have entered into a partnership to establish the terms and conditions for the distribution of electronic money issued by Orabank through the provision of Wave Services to customers. Orabank is therefore seeking to build on this expertise to provide services to a fringe of low-income customers. Through these tie-ups, Oragroup’s branches and subsidiaries will join forces with various mobile operators, with the aim of offering quality digital financial services to targeted users. In 2021, the mobile operator Moov Africa in collaboration with Orabank Chad launched a service that gives Orabank customers the possibility to buy smartphones on credit, from a wide range of devices offered by Moov Africa.
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 curve on the climate issue to remain a pioneer in this area. We are already a major player in structured finance for green growth and renewable energy financing for solar. We have successfully deployed the credit lines made available by international lenders but we want to be more proactive in developing products to promote these technologies in our markets. Discussions are underway to conclude agreements with major manufacturers to increase photovoltaic capacity in our countries and to actively contribute to the response to this climate emergency.
Beyond the solicitations of donors or international organizations, our countries are ready to engage in the battle against climate change because they are hard hit by extreme climatic events causing a rural exodus due to the decline of water points and pastures. The bank must exercise its responsibility and seize the opportunity to provide solutions to slow down climate change and help finance climate change adaptation actions. One of the major constraints in our countries is the production and distribution of electricity. Off-grid solutions could solve the problem of electricity distribution through channels that are very expensive to deploy. Solar energy would allow the deployment of autonomous solutions of energy production and in a very fast way. Our countries also have primary forests that can represent real carbon “traps”. All these avenues 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 the fight against global warming. The objective is also to reduce the Group’s carbon footprint and the installation of solar panels on our branches is already underway. 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 2022?
The outlook remains good for all our countries of presence despite the volatile economic context and the risk of terrorism in some countries in the WAEMU zone. The group is targeting a cost/income ratio below 60% in 2022 and this level will be supported by the planned growth of our activities under strict cost discipline in line with our new 2021-2025 strategic plan. We will continue to focus on portfolio quality, in particular recovery, improved portfolio monitoring, optimization of weighted net assets to minimize capital requirements. The constitution and optimal allocation of the capital required to support the growth and profitability of the Group’s activities remains a priority. The reinforcement of equity is therefore planned through subordinated debt operations for the Holding and the subsidiaries and the issue of preference shares for the Holding. It is important to mention that the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTAA) can be the source of a real economic rebound in our markets, as it will allow the construction and development of fairer and more ecological local value chains. We see the roots of sustainable growth for Orabank Group subsidiaries that are already very active in intra-African trade finance.