- TOMA IMIRHE examines the possible impact of this appointment, though temporary, on the bank’s fortunes.
Ecobank Ghana, the largest commercial bank in the country, has announced Ms. Joana Mensah as its acting Managing Director. She replaces Dan Sackey, who was at the helm from 2016 to August 15, 2023 when he officially retired from the bank. Joana is expected to remain in this role until a substantive person is named later. As of now, Ecobank has not announced the timeline for this process, nor the identities of any contenders for the position of substantive MD.
Until this appointment, Joana was the Country Chief Risk Officer of Ecobank Ghana, responsible for managing the enterprise-wide risk functions across the Bank since May 2019. In this capacity she had direct supervision of credit risk, market risk, operational risk as well as Environmental Social and Governance, and worked through the Management Risk Committee to cover other risk areas.
Her career with Ecobank Ghana started in August 1993, when she joined the bank as a Financial Analyst with the Corporate Banking Department. She subsequently served as a Relationship Manager in charge of the SME Portfolio and was eventually appointed Head of Commercial Banking in 1999. In 2005, Joanna was appointed Country Risk Manager with dual responsibility – being also Regional Risk Manager for the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) which is currently the Anglophone West Africa (AWA) region.
Based on her rich credit experience and expertise in exercising sound credit judgment, she was also appointed Senior Credit Officer by Ecobank Transnational Inc., the parent company of Ecobank Ghana, responsible for approving large credit exposures and high-risk exposures for the AWA Region. She has a strong background in SME development, Corporate Banking/ Strategy and Risk Management.
Joana holds an MBA in Finance and a BSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon. She presently serves as a member of the Board of Directors, Ecobank Gambia, and previously served on the Boards of Ecobank Sierra Leone and Ecobank Ghana Venture Fund.
Ms. Mensah comes into office just as the bank has revealed its strong recovery from the dip in financial performance – unavoidably imposed on it by effects of Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, which imposed a cumulative industry-wide loss of nearly GH¢4billion on the country’s 23 banks last year. Ecobank Ghana, for long the industry leader, announced its financial performance for the first half of 2023 which showed that it is well on course to successfully navigating the treacherous terrain thrown up by the country’s debt restructuring exercise. The bank is back to profitability – after impairment charges on its government debt securities holding imposed losses on it for both the full 2022 financial year and first quarter of 2023.
The return to its customary level of profitability is still ongoing, though as its profit after tax for the first half of 2023 of GH¢282.429million was still 19.3% lower than the GH¢350.148million the bank made during the corresponding period of 2022, which was the last half-year financial reporting period before effects of the public debt restructuring set in. Indeed, this is expected to be the immediate task of Joanna Mensah as she assumes office at the helm of Ecobank Ghana.
Going by her sterling career achievements so far, Joana Mensah looks to be well up to the huge task ahead, keeping Ecobank as the market leader and maintaining its profit-making drive to close the year 2023.