ECOBANK Ghana, the largest commercial bank in the country, has announced Ms. Joana Mensah as the 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 at yet, 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 as the Head of Commercial Banking in 1999. In 2005, Joana was appointed as Country Risk Manager with dual responsibility, her 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 as 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 of 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 completely recovered from the dip in its financial performance, unavoidably caused by the effects of Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP), which imposed a significant adverse impact on nearly all banks. Ecobank Ghana, for long the industry leader, announced its financial performance for the first half of 2023 that 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 holding of government debt securities, leading to huge losses for both the full 2022 financial year and the first quarter of 2023.
The return to its customary levels of profitability remains on course, though as its profit after tax for the first half of 2023 of GHc282.429 million was still 19.3% lower than the GHc350.148 million the bank made during the corresponding period of 2022, which was the last half year financial reporting period before the effects of the public debt restructuring set in. Joana’s immediate task, if nothing else, will be to guide the bank to its previous excellent growth trajectory, to make up for the losses it suffered under the DDEP.
Going by her sterling career achievements so far, Joanna Mensah looks to be well positioned for the huge task ahead, keeping Ecobank as the market leader and maintaining its profit-making drive to close the year 2023, or until a substantive MD is named.