Interview with Admassu Tadesse, President Emeritus and Managing Director of TDB Group

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“Our role is to support African economies ”
 
 

Admassu Tadesse, is President Emeritus and Group Managing Director of the Trade and Development
Bank (TDB Group, former PTA Bank), a specialized development finance institution serving Eastern and Southern Africa and beyond. In this interview the “Best development banker in Africa“, a distinction presented during the last Financial Afrik Awards, looks back on the highlights of his institution and discusses the outlook for 2022.


 


2021 was a rich year for TDB. How has your portfolio evolved?


 

Our portfolio has grown strongly over several years in terms of total balance sheet and revenue, with a very good momentum.  Of course, during the pandemic we experienced a slight slowdown for obvious reasons. During this period however, we have strengthened our roots in our traditional markets. We have also managed to grow our portfolio in newer markets like Mozambique, South Sudan and also Madagascar.  Our strategy is to ensure a good return on investment for our shareholders while generating impact for the people and countries we serve. Among other sectors, TDB has been participating in the financing of various infrastructure projects, in transport, energy and telecoms, in particular, fiber optic cables, as well as railways, and infrastructure to improve the supply chain of landlocked countries. We intervene across multiple sectors and multiple countries. 
 



Since its change of name in 2017, TDB has seen its shareholding expanding. Could you present an overview of your institution by December 2021?
 

Underpinned by significant reforms, we have gone though some transformation over the past several years in terms of our capital structure and market presence. Originally, we were restricted to COMESA member states. But now we go beyond, and cover non-COMESA countries in the EAC and SADC, and are planning to expand towards the Western seaboard of the continent, more particularly with Senegal, Ghana and Mauritania.  We serve sovereign, financial institutions as well as corporate clients with our portfolio of trade finance and project finance products and services. For now, I cannot say too much about our financial picture for 2021 as our audited result haven’t yet been published.  To recall, the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) has shareholders in 22 member countries across COMESA, EAC, IGAD and SADC, 2 non-regional member countries, in addition to institutional investors in Africa and globally, including African Development Bank (AfDB), African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Africa Reinsurance Corporation (Africa-Re) Insurance, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Banco Nacional de Investimento (BNI, Mozambique), Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (CNSS, Djibouti), Eagle Insurance (Mauritius), Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU, Denmark), National Pension Fund (NPF, Mauritius), National Social Security Fund (NSSF, Uganda), The OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund), PTA Reinsurance Company (ZEP-RE), Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Sacos Insurance Group (Seychelles), and Seychelles Pension Fund (SPF).


COVID-19 has affected many countries and institutions. What has been the effects of this pandemic on the quality of your portfolio?
 

First, as I mentioned, it’s been slightly slower than usual growth. Second, regarding our portfolio, our non-performing loans have increased slightly, but remain under 3%. The worst is now behind us.



How is your risk profile on international and regional loan markets?

TDB is rated by Moody’s, Fitch and GCR. We have been rated as investment grade since 2017 by Moody’s and GCR. Our ratings were affirmed throughout the pandemic, and our outlooks were recently upgraded to positive by both GCR and Fitch, and stable by Moody’s.  



What are your perspectives on African finance as well as finance in Eastern and Southern Africa in general, in a context of heighted political, health and climate risks?
 

We are in a changing world facing various important changes, notably climate change, regional integration including via the AfCFTA, an energy transition, and disruption with the advent of artificial intelligence as key factor of economic growth, and important demographic growth.  There are several mega-trends and a lot of economic pressures our economies are facing.  For financial institutions like TDB, the question is how to assist countries to address those challenges and overcome as well as adapt to changing and new realities. There is the question of healthy financial system which is frequently referred to in this context of rising risks. Our question, in turn, revolves around how we can use our resources more effectively to help African countries respond and overcome shocks and challenges while unlocking opportunities at the same time as climate and SDG imperatives.

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