Access Bank Group: How this global bank with African roots has made its way to the top

Photo credit: Access Bank

What you need to know:

  • Today, Access Bank serves over 60 million customers through operations across 21 markets, including 14 in Africa, a presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UK, and France, as well as representative offices in China, Hong Kong, India, and Lebanon.

The name, Access Bank, has come up quite often in recent times; be it about its immense growth, or, specifically in Tanzania, the news that it is acquiring BancABC Tanzania and Standard Chartered Bank’s consumer, private and business banking operations in the country. What is less known is the bank’s origin, and that it has been in East Africa since 2009.

The story of Access Bank's growth dates back to the early 2000s when two young men in their thirties embarked on a journey to make an impact in Africa's financial services sector. Their ambition was clear: To create a globally connected community and ecosystem inspired by Africa, for the world.

Many may not have believed in the possibility of what Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, and the now the late Herbert Wigwe, wanted to achieve. But the two set their sights and focused on the end game – to uplift Africa through what they termed, “sustainable banking”.

Starting with Nigeria where Access Bank was the 65th largest in 2003, to its current position as the largest in the country as affirmed by the global data company Statisa, the duo leveraged on their strong corporate banking foundations to achieve exponential growth through consistent achievements of five-year strategic plans aimed at creating the world’s most respected African bank. Today, Access Bank is Africa’s largest bank by customer numbers. The bank serves over 60 million customers through operations across 21 markets, including 14 in Africa, a presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UK, and France, as well as representative offices in China, Hong Kong, India, and Lebanon.

This solid banking base is the anchor vertical of the larger group – the Access Corporation – a holding company that creates a globally connected community and ecosystem providing new interconnected services across customer needs.

Access Corporation builds on the scale and ethical standards of Access Bank, with a portfolio of companies ranging from banking to insurance brokerage, lending and payments services, insurance and pensions, and ambitions to broaden this service offering. Presently, these verticals are available in Nigeria, with plans to extend the pensions business across Access Bank’s African footprint by 2027.

A presence in Tanzania to bolster financial inclusion in East Africa

The journey of Access Bank is one of resilience. Hurdles aside, the bank continues to expand its territories and revenues. With the much-anticipated conclusion of the BancABC and the Standard Chartered Bank acquisitions in Tanzania, it is evident that Access Bank’s resolve is to strengthen its presence in the country and ultimately expand its services to unbanked communities to deliver a new era of financial services.

This foray into Tanzania is in line with the bank’s global expansion strategy. It will enable the group to solidify its presence across East Africa, adding onto the existing operations in Kenya, Rwanda, and the DRC. The planned acquisitions of a majority stake in Uganda’s Finance Trust Bank Limited, and 100 percent shareholding in the National Bank of Kenya Limited, will further strengthen the bank’s presence in the region.

By bringing on the Tanzania business, Access Bank will further entrench its access to the banking opportunity in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). With a particular focus on corporate organisations, SMEs, women, and youths, once the acquisitions are complete, Access Bank will continue to provide a full range of banking services for its stakeholders, including employees and customers in Tanzania. Leveraging on the strengths of the Access UK Private Bank brand, the private banking segment in Tanzania will ensure the wealth portfolio needs of High-Net-worth Individuals (HNI) and Ultra High Net-worth Individuals (UHNI), both locally and abroad, are met by providing them with bespoke services. 

Looking ahead, the bank will continue to invest in technological advancements, which will enable the migration of the majority of its customers to digital platforms across touchpoints. The bank will also continue to grow its subsidiary network, with plans to have a footprint in 26 African countries as well as the USA, Europe, and Asia, by the end of 2027.

Access Bank is well on its journey to building a strong global franchise focused on serving as a gateway for payments, investment, and trade in Tanzania, Africa at large, and the rest of the world.

To learn more about the bank, visit