By Goddy Egene

Four banks- Access Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and Zenith Bank Plc- boosted the nation’s economy with a total loan of N5.801 trillion to their customers in 2015, despite the headwinds that prevailed during the year under review.

Declining oil price and poor infrastructural base, high inflation and political uncertainty in 2015 combined to increase the risk of debt repayments by customers, a development that was expected to reduce the level of lending by banks to customers.

However, THISDAY checks revealed that despite those challenges, the four banks that released their audited reports for the 2015 financial year last week recorded loans and advances to customers worth N5.801 trillion. The loans value indicated an increase of 11.5 per cent above the N5.20 trillion recorded in 2014.

The four banks, except UBA increased their lending customers. While Zenith Bank Plc recorded the highest value of loans in absolute terms, Access Bank Plc led in terms of percentage increase.

Zenith Bank recorded loans and advances of N1.989 trillion, up by 15 per cent from N1.729 trillion recorded in 2014. Access Bank Plc followed with N1.409 trillion, showing a jump of 25 per cent compared with N1.123 trillion in 2014.

The GTBank Plc extended loans and advances worth N1.372 trillion to its customers, up by 7.5 per cent from N1.276 trillion recorded in 2014. However, UBA Plc gave out N1.031 trillion as loans and advances, which is a decrease of 3.8 per cent from N1.072 trillion recorded in 2014.

Market analysts said the increase in lending despite the challenges is a positive development that should be improved upon by the banks in the current financial year.

The four banks have also shown significant level of resilience, closing the year with growth in the bottom-line. GTBank and Zenith Bank grew its bottom-lines by 5.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively ,while UBA posted a growth of 25 per cent. However, Access Bank led with the highest growth of 53 per cent as its profit after tax jumped from N43.1 billion in 2014 to N65.9 billion.