He replaces Mr. Thierry Tanoh who the board of Ecobank removed on Tuesday following months of turmoil at one of the biggest financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
The crisis over corporate governance and leadership that led to Tanoh’s departure is seen as a test case for regulators and has put a spotlight on the integrity of financial institutions on a continent where economies are expanding rapidly.
Mr. Tanoh joined the Ecobank Group as CEO-designate in July 2012 and commenced his executive role in October 2012 prior to being appointed Group CEO in January 2013.
Mr. Essien has been at Ecobank for more than twenty years, rising to the position of Deputy Group CEO two years ago.
Prior to becoming Deputy CEO, Mr. Essien was the Regional Head for the Anglophone West Africa (excluding Nigeria) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regions. He started his banking career in 1986 with the National Investment Bank in Accra, Ghana, and joined the Corporate Banking Department of Ecobank Ghana in 1990. In 1997, he became Country Risk Manager.
Announcing the replacement ETI Interim Chairman, André Siaka, said: “We wish to thank Thierry Tanoh for his service to Ecobank and we wish him every success in the future. We believe that Mr. Albert Essien has the experience and knowledge that Ecobank needs to take us forward as we continue to implement our strategy — which is to deliver outstanding customer service, to improve long-term shareholder value and returns, and to be the employer of choice in our markets.”
Speaking as the Board nominated him as Group CEO, Essien said: “I have been working for Ecobank for more than 20 years and I am proud of what we have achieved so far. I am committed to achieving our vision of building a world-class pan-African bank that contributes to the economic development and financial integration of Africa and to our mission of providing our retail and wholesale customers with convenient, accessible and reliable financial products and services.
Albert Essien has a degree in Economics from the University of Ghana and is an alumnus of the Executive Development Programme of INSEAD (France/Singapore). He is also an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana.
During their Board meeting, the Directors reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the detailed 51-point Governance Action Plan adopted by shareholders at an Extraordinary General Meeting held at Ecobank’s Pan-African Centre in Lomé on 3 March 2014.
The plan, which is expected to be implemented by the end of April 2014, aims to strengthen governance within the Ecobank Group