How Access Bank is Promoting True African Identity

In commemoration of the 2024 Africa Day Celebration, Sunday Ehigiator writes on how Access Bank Plc, a leading pan-African financial institution, stands at the forefront of promoting true African identity across the continent

Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963.

It is usually celebrated in various countries on the African continent as well as around the world. The organisation was replaced by the African Union (AU) on July 9, 2002, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on May 25 of every year.

Each year, the AU adopts a theme to highlight a particular problem the continent faces and work together towards a solution. The theme for the year 2024 is ‘Education Fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa’.

The education theme underscores the importance of education for the continent, especially as a catalyst for growth and socioeconomic transformation. The theme also aligns well with the aspirations of African Agenda 2063, and one of the core pillars of Access Bank’s social responsibility.

The Access Strides

In furtherance of its commitment to education, Access Bank has recently made a very significant investment in African education, empowering over 90,000 children across 20 states in Nigeria and five other African countries with financial literacy skills, comprehensive training, and promoting early savings habits, demonstrating its commitment to financial inclusion and securing a brighter future for the next generation.

Before his demise, Africa’s great, and one of the founders of the bank, Herbert Wigwe, made a foray into education, with a substantial $500million investment in a private university.

Similarly, the bank in 2019, joined forces with the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and Fifth Chukker to bolster the educational sector through enhanced funding.

With the ultimate goal to revitalise and fortify the educational system, increase access to formal education and reduce child delinquency, Access Bank raised funds to invest in school infrastructures, providing facilities and teaching materials, and constructing new schools in various rural communities.

This is not to mention the bank’s investment in promoting Africa’s culture with investment in projects like the Access Bank ART X Prize, an annual art prize which honours and rewards outstanding African artists, fostering the growth and recognition of African art on a global stage.

The bank also supports African fashion through the Access Bank Lagos Fashion Week, an event that showcases the talent of African fashion designers and highlights the continent’s unique style to the world. These initiatives not only celebrate African creativity, but also enhance its visibility worldwide.

Access Bank’s commitment extends beyond the arts to the economic empowerment of Africans. The Access Bank SME programmes provide crucial financial support and mentorship to small businesses, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.

In the agricultural sector, the bank’s programmes offer financial assistance and technical support to farmers, promoting sustainable agricultural practices and improving livelihoods. These initiatives are pivotal in driving economic development and reducing poverty across the African continent.

Promoting of African Identity

The bank’s dedication to promoting African identity is also evident in its branding and marketing efforts. Access Bank’s investment in sports with the annual Lagos Marathon, featuring African athletes from various African countries also symbolises the rich promotion of Africa’s cultural identity.

The bank’s marketing campaigns that incorporate African music and art further reinforce the bank’s commitment to celebrating and promoting African identity globally.

Africa’s Day Celebration within Access

In a statement released by the bank in commemoration of the Africa Day Celebration, the bank said, “this year’s theme is a poignant reminder of Africa’s diversity and the need to address the educational challenges faced across the continent.

“Africa is a vast and complex continent of over 1.2 billion people speaking more than 3,000 languages across 54 countries. Despite shared challenges, each nation contributes uniquely to the continent’s rich cultural and historical mosaic.

“Unfortunately, education remains a significant hurdle. According to UNESCO and the African Union, over a quarter of school-age children in Africa were out of school in 2023, and 90 per cent of children were unable to read or write by age ten. This stark reality underscores the need for urgent educational reforms to equip future generations.

“In alignment with this educational drive, Access Holdings will once again host the Access Bank/UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament starting from the Children’s Day Anniversary on May 27, 2024, in Kaduna.

“This event, which will culminate at the Fifth Chukker Polo & Country Club on June 9, will bring together over 150 school pupils and their teachers for a day filled with sports, art activities, and messages promoting child welfare, such as ‘Stop Child Abuse’ and ‘Childhood Isn’t Meant to Be a Nightmare’.

“As the largest charity polo tournament in Africa, this event highlights Access Bank’s commitment to supporting underprivileged children, having donated over N700 million towards building schools and providing social amenities for surrounding communities in the past seven years.

“Beyond education, there are numerous aspects of African heritage and achievements that deserve celebration. In Angola, known for its vast oil reserves, Angola is also home to the ancient Tchitundo-Huluvilo Caves, a significant cultural landmark showcasing prehistoric art.

“In Botswana, celebrated for its stable democracy established by Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana is also renowned for producing world-class athletes like Amantle Montsho, a former world champion sprinter.

“In Cameroon, home to the towering Mount Cameroon and the legendary musician Manu Dibango, Cameroon has made significant contributions to global music and boasts rich natural beauty.

“In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), known for its rich copper reserves and the majestic Congo River, the DRC is also the birthplace of Patrice Lumumba, a pivotal figure in Africa’s fight for independence.

“In Gambia, famous for its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, Gambia is also making strides in education and tourism, becoming a notable destination in West Africa.

“In Ghana, a beacon of democracy and economic growth in West Africa, Ghana is also celebrated for its rich history, including the Ashanti Kingdom and significant cultural festivals.

“In Guinea, with its rich mineral resources, particularly bauxite, Guinea is also known for its vibrant music and dance traditions that play a crucial role in cultural identity.

“In Kenya, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and wildlife, Kenya is a leader in environmental conservation and home to world-renowned long-distance runners.

“In Mozambique, known for its stunning coastline and rich cultural heritage, Mozambique is also recognised for its vibrant arts scene, including music and dance.

“In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria is celebrated for its diverse cultures, Nollywood film industry, and significant contributions to literature and music, including figures like Chinua Achebe and Fela Kuti. Nigeria is also home to Dangote Petroleum Refinery, the continent’s largest petroleum refinery.

“In Rwanda, a symbol of resilience and progress, Rwanda has made remarkable strides in economic development and technological innovation, becoming a model for other African nations.

“In Sierra Leone, known for its rich history and natural beauty, Sierra Leone is also making progress in education and healthcare, contributing to a brighter future for its citizens.

“In South Africa, famous for its stunning landscapes and diverse cultures, South Africa is a global leader in mining and a symbol of freedom and reconciliation, epitomised by Nelson Mandela.

“In Zambia, renowned for its spectacular Victoria Falls, Zambia is also making significant strides in economic development and conservation efforts.

“Access Holdings is proud to operate in these African nations contributing uniquely to the continent’s narrative, from historical landmarks to modern achievements in various fields.

“As we continue to consolidate the discourse around the 2024 Africa Day theme, the Group calls on Africans to unite, invest in our incredible human resource even as we work to take our rightful place on the table of deliberations of global significance.”


Access Bank’s multifaceted approach underscores its significant role in fostering African identity. The bank’s initiatives in the arts, fashion, entrepreneurship, sports, and agriculture collectively contribute to a broader recognition and appreciation of African culture and heritage.

These efforts also align with the bank’s vision of driving economic growth and improving the quality of life across Africa.

As we continue to celebrate Africa Day, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of Access Bank and similar organisations dedicated to promoting African culture and identity. Their efforts not only celebrate Africa’s rich heritage, but also pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive future.

Access Bank’s initiatives exemplify how corporate responsibility can intersect with cultural promotion and economic development, creating a positive and lasting impact on the continent.

Related Articles