Categories: News

Cairo, March 7, 2024: African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank or “the Bank”) joins the world today to mourn the untimely passing of its longstanding partner, client and friend, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, the Group managing director and CEO of Access Holdings Plc, one of Africa’s top banking institutions, which sad event took place on February 9, 2024 in a helicopter crash in the United States. The unfortunate incident, which claimed the lives of his beloved wife, Mrs Doreen Wigwe and his eldest son, Chizi Wigwe, also cut short the lives of another friend of the Bank, Mr. Abimbola Ogunbanjo, Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc and two crew members.

Dr Wigwe was an exceptional Nigerian banking professional, innovator, and astute businessman. He started his career at Coopers & Lybrand Associates as a Management Consultant in the late 1980s. He joined Guaranty Trust Bank where he served for over 10 years, and in 2002, set up Access Bank alongside his business associate and friend, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. Dr. Wigwe rose to become the CEO of Access Holdings Plc, and over a short period, it became one of the largest banking institutions in Nigeria with regional and international presence.

As a close partner and client, Access Holdings Plc formed solid working relations with Afreximbank, under the stewardship of Dr Wigwe, anchored on shared values and vision for Africa. He was an advocate and promoter of intra-African trade and regional integration, and consistently collaborated with Afreximbank in financing and implementing their African expansion strategy, global trade initiatives and supply chain financing. He was at the forefront of the roll-out of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) as Access bank signed up as an early adopter of the initiative to enable cross-border settlements and payments in local currencies, where Access Bank had its operations.

Herbert’s passion and drive for the growth and development of the continent was always evident as he was actively engaged in several other initiatives including leading a high-level delegation of Nigerian States’ governors to the third Intra-African Trade Fair, during which Afreximbank, Access Holding Plc and the States signed a crucial funding framework, amounting to about US$2 billion for high impact projects in Nigeria. He worked tirelessly to deliver these projects till his death.

He was a firm believer in the aspiration of a Global Africa and on the sidelines of the 2023 edition of the Afri-Caribbean Trade & Investment Forum (ACTIF) held in Guyana, Access Bank and Afreximbank signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote trade and investments between Africa and the Caribbean, with a key focus aimed at promoting credit support mechanisms, including jointly establishing a bank in the Caribbean, to facilitate strategic investments and boosting the capacity of the financial services in the Caribbean.

Dr. Herbert was also a staunch supporter and patron of the Arts and was committed to fostering and supporting cultural enrichment within the thriving arts scene in Nigeria. Access Bank, in collaboration with the Afreximbank Arts Program became the primary sponsors of Art X Lagos, West Africa’s premier international art fair, designed to showcase the best of contemporary and modern art from Africa. Both institutions have been united in their quest to commercialise art as an engine of economic growth, societal development and to elevate Africa’s Art narrative.

While commenting on the passing of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors said: “Nigeria and indeed Africa has lost a titan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, parents, other loved ones and colleagues at Access Holdings Plc and its subsidiaries, as they grapple with this tragic loss. Herbert was a brother, a friend, and a fellow pan-Africanist. We were blessed to work with him to deliver so many future-defining initiatives. At Afreximbank, we will continue to honour him by ensuring that the numerous initiatives we championed together, especially in the areas of Intra and extra-African trade, ensuring that Africans took control of their destiny, as well as in the Arts and Creative Industries will continue to thrive. May his gentle soul find rest and perfect peace.”


About Afreximbank:

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance, facilitate and promote intra and extra-African trade. For over 30 years, the Bank has been deploying innovative instruments to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. A stalwart supporter of the AfCFTA, Afreximbank has in partnership with the African Union Commission and AFCFTA Secretariat launched a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement. The AFCFTA Secretariat and the Bank have created a USD 10 billion Adjustment Fund to support countries to effectively participate in the AfCFTA.

At the end of September 2023, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at USD 31.5 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to USD 5.85 billion. The Bank disbursed more than USD 100 billion between 2016 and 2023 through various interventions for the advancement of the continent. Afreximbank has investment grade ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A), Moody’s (Baa1), Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) (A-) and Fitch (BBB). Afreximbank has evolved into a group entity comprising the Bank, its impact fund subsidiary called the Fund for Export Development Africa (FEDA), and its insurance management subsidiary, AfrexInsure, (together, “the Group”).

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