African Banks are More Exposed to Governance and Environmental Risks than their Global Peers

Ratings agency Moody’s says that nearly a quarter of African banks’ lending is directed to companies facing carbon transition risks. African banks’ exposure to companies facing carbon risks – mostly those in the mining, oil & gas, and manufacturing & transport sectors – is around $106bn, or about 22% of their loan books. While credit exposure to environmental risks is moderately negative for 72% of African financial institutions, it is highly negative for 13 banks in oil-dependent Nigeria and Angola. Nigerian banks have much higher exposures (51% of their loan books worth $27bn) than some of their peers as a result of high lending to the oil and gas sectors, which accounts for 23% of gross loans. Angola, which also has one of the continent’s most active hydrocarbon industries, is similarly exposed to carbon risk. This fuels a number of wider risks for banks, Moody’s says. Not all major countries on the continent are as heavily exposed. In Morocco, carbon-intensive loans amount to 19% of the total loan book, or $16bn. In South Africa, carbon-intensive lending also accounts for 19%, but that is equivalent to $51bn given the large size of its diversified economy.