The inspiring profile of Abdoulaye Diao, the oil tycoon behind Senegal’s first national private bank

Abu Mubarik October 11, 2022
Abdoulaye Diao. Photo credit: kapitalafrik

Abdoulaye Diao was born in Thies, 70 kilometres east of Dakar. Abdoulaye’s father worked as a railwayman to take care of eight children, including him. Of the eight children, he was the only one that attended school because he proved to be brilliant at a very young age.

He obtained a scholarship to study at elite engineering schools in France. He first took a preparatory class in maths-sup at Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then the Ecole Centrale and the French Petroleum Institute.

Upon his return to Senegal, he was hired as an adviser to the Ministry of Energy. He was instrumental in the drafting of texts governing Senegal Petroleum Company (Petrosen) and oil research and exploration. However, once his contract expired, he walked away to start his own venture.

He launched himself into the world of commodity trading after associating with Cheikh Fall (the first CEO of the airline Air Afrique). Diao is said to have been influenced by Fall to start his own business.

This led him to establish Senegal’s first hydrocarbon trading company, International Trading Oil and Commodities (ITOC). According to Forbes, ITOC trades in crude oil as well as gasoline, LPG and jet fuel. In 2018, the platform reported that the company generates annual revenues of not less than $600 million. 

Much of Diao’s fortune came from ITCO as he grew the company to become Senegal’s biggest oil importer. However, in recent times, he has diversified into agro-industry and banking. He reportedly nurtured the ambition to own a bank for about four years.

Prior to launching his bank, the industry was almost exclusively dominated by foreigners, mainly from North Africa and France. In 2018, he launched Outarde Bank (LBO), whose name and logo are inspired by the bustard, which is outarde in French. Founded in Dakar’s bustling Plateau business district, the bank is Senegal’s first national private capital bank. The bank began operations in January 2018 with a private Senegalese shareholding of 84.5%. Diao, who chairs the board of directors, owns 59%, according to

Today, the bank has almost 1,000 clients, with 80% of its clients being businesses, from micro-business to large businesses. Its focus is on energy and agriculture.

Diao remains one of the most respected and influential figures in Senegal not only as a business leader but also as a moral leader. He is also a philanthropist. Currently, the septuagenarian serves as special counsel to Senegal’s president, Macky Sall. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 11, 2022


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