Ecobank MD Sworn in as Bankers Association President
— Calls on bankers to engender discussion on modern ways to improve Liberia’s banking system with a focus on financial inclusion
Ecobank Liberia Managing Director George Mensah-Asante has been sworn in as the president of the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA), after his recent election.
He was sworn into office on Friday, July 22 in Monrovia. Mensah-Asante replaces John B.S. Davies, III, former President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) who served for eight years.
Meanwhile, Robert Nkous, President and Chief Executive Officer of Afriland First Bank Liberia, and Madam Nkechi Joyce Arizor, Managing Director of the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Liberia, Treasurer and Vice President of the LBA, respectively, have retained their posts.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mensah-Asante urged his fellow bankers to foster discussion on contemporary ways to improve Liberia's banking system with a focus on financial inclusion.
Mensah-Asante, a seasoned Ghanaian banker with over 21 years of experience, told his fellow MDs and CEOs that there is a need for all hands on deck.
“We need to work at improving financial integration and the general payment systems within Liberia, Africa, and the world at large,” he said.
The swearing-in ceremony coincided with the honoring and gowning of the outgoing president of LBA. The LBA president declared that there is strength in unity, noting that the occasion of his induction can’t be overemphasized as it symbolizes togetherness.
Mensah-Asante commended the former LBA president for all the support and devotion for getting the LBA to reach this level.
“I want to reassure you that we will keep pushing and raising the bar.” Yes, as not all of us will get the chance to be promoted to lead the organization of bankers. As a result, I would like to thank everyone involved for placing their trust in me and allowing me to take on this position,” he said.
Mensah-Asante said the goal of the national financial inclusion strategy, which was introduced in December 2019, is to strengthen the sustainable financial sector, which is heavily reliant on digital financial services.
He said the goal is also meant to increase access to the utilization of a wide variety of financial services and, as such, they will need all hands on deck.
The bankers’ president called on Liberia’s nine banks as they are all concentrated in Monrovia, which makes it difficult, time-consuming, and expensive for many Liberians to meet their financial needs, such as accessing cash, paying salaries, and obtaining loans.
“To address these challenges,” he said, “we need to work together as an association on the following by pursuing agency banking as a quick strategy to enable us to expand our network to other geographic locations beyond Monrovia.
“This will help make it possible for the industry to have hundreds of agency banking points in areas such as Kakata, Ganta, Foya, and all those locations where we don't currently have bank accounts,” he added.
Mensah-Asante further emphasized how important it is for banks to establish a network of agents and super agents to support the work of their major branches.
“We also need to move from business as usual to providing financial literacy support and putting weapons. We need to leverage technology to make financial services accessible in the hinterlands and affordable for all Liberians. To achieve all this, they all need to work together to realize the digital economy because cash is the most widely used form of payment, both in LD and USD, and it is essential to our daily lives,” he said.
Mensah-Asante further said that he would collaborate with all stakeholders, including the banking regulator, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), to explore ways of improving modern banking payments and facilitating remittances to Liberia and the world.
The President of the Insurance Association of Liberia and Managing Director of Activa Insurance, Cllr. Saye D. Gbalazeh, who installed the officers, challenged the new leadership not to tear down but to build on the foundation and achievements of their predecessors.
Gbalazeh said as Liberia moves to the digital age, the new leadership needs to ensure that the system is better as compared to what Davies left because they now have the platform to move ahead.
For his part, Chris Wallace, the CBL’s senior director for economic policy management, expressed appreciation for the coming of the new leadership and has expressed his desire to cooperate with them.
He also assured the Mensah-Asante leadership that the Executive Governor and Board of Governors of the CBL will continue to support all their initiatives.