New World Bank Country Director Targets Economic Growth, Poverty Reduction

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The new Country Director of the World Bank for Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, Henry G.R. Kerali has paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her temporary office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He was accompanied by Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh and two senior officials of the World Bank-Liberia office.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader welcomed Mr. Kerali and informed him that the World Bank has been a strong partner to Liberia; particularly during the most difficult period of the Ebola crisis.

She noted that the Bank has also supported the country’s rebuilding process with great progress, but noted that some of the processes and interventions are a bit slow. “The Bank must find a way of mitigating some of the emergencies and urgencies to meet outstanding targets,” she urged, adding, “There is continuity in governance and as a way of ensuring this, after the elections to come, critical steps are required for ongoing and outstanding processes and programs to avoid a period of dormancy after the transition.”

President Sirleaf appealed to the Bank to, in addition to its many interventions in infrastructure, security, among others; take a progressive approach in supporting agricultural programs.

She expressed the hope that Mr. Kerali has come with renewed dynamism and flexibility to the job and look forward to working with him and the Bank.

For his part, the new World Bank Country Director thanked the Liberian President for the meeting and expressed admiration for her able leadership and achievements.

He told President Sirleaf that he takes the assignment with the commitment that the World Bank Group can help Liberia and the other two countries most affected by the Ebola virus disease to achieve their development goals.

He recognized the challenges of the country and promised to help to resolve them; acknowledging Liberia and President Sirleaf’s strong relationship with the World Bank. “I am a hands-on person and want to assure you that the World Bank Program will start almost immediately; but will be preceded by stock taking. I also agree that agriculture should be prioritized because it is an intervention that helps to cater to the poorest of the poor and after stock taking, we will come back to the government for realignment for the next few years,” Mr. Karali noted.

He described President Sirleaf as an excellent leader and a global resource in handling not just the Ebola virus disease, but other outbreaks that may occur around the world based on how her leadership ensured the prompt defeat of the deadly virus in Liberia.
Earlier, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh presented Mr. Kerali to President Sirleaf as the new Country Director of the World Bank Group to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone and that this was his first visit to Liberia.

He stressed the excellent relationship that has existed between the Bank and Liberia since the ascendency of President Sirleaf and provided updates on outstanding projects and programs of the Bank.

Mr. Kerali was appointed the new Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone on July 1, 2015.

In this position, his top priorities will be to: (i) work closely with the three partner countries to provide innovative products and services that respond to their diverse development challenges and contribute to achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, with specific emphasis on post-Ebola recovery; (ii) manage the Accra office and lead and support staff and country management team, working closely with internal and external partners, to enhance results; and (iii) contribute to regional and corporate initiatives.

Prior to taking up this new appointment, Mr. Kerali was the World Bank’s Regional Director for the South Caucasus, based in Georgia. He has previously also worked in different regions of the world including Latin America, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and ECA, and has also served as Sector Manager of the Bank’s transport program in the ECA Region.

Both Liberia and Sierra Leone have country managers and Ms. Inguna Dobraja is the Country Manager for Liberia. Mr. Kerali also serves as Country Manager for Ghana where he is based.

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