Liberia: Bankers Association Eulogizes former President

LBA newly inducted president, Mensah-Asante

John B.S. Davies, III, outgoing president of the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA) has been honored for his exceptional leadership and tireless efforts rendered to the Association.

Mr. Davis, who served as the association’s president, was honored recently by members of the LBA during a well organized program held in Monrovia.

The honoree is also the former president and chief executive officer of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).

Ms. Sarah Lamin, LBA Administrative Assistant, who provided a brief profile of the honoree, said during the tenure of Davies, the banking industry witnessed a greater degree of unity in diversity, collaboration, and syndications of club deals.

According to her, the honoree became the first member of the executive committee of the association after assuming the role of CEO of LBDI in January 2012.

Lamin said the outgoing LBA president subsequently was elected in late 2013 and commenced his tenure as the President in 2014, having succeeded Mr. Sylvia Achimole, former MD of First International Bank, whose tour of duty in Liberia expired.

She recalled that her former boss chaired the executive committee of the association, which comprised all nine commercial banks in the country.

Lamin explained: “Davies was the principal representative and spokesperson for the association in interactions with multilateral partners, government functionaries, and professional organizations, including the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Tree Crops Programs, the National Aids Commission, the National Public Health Institute, etc.”

According to her, Davis also, along with two other members of the executive committee, represented the LBA on the board of directors of the Banking Institute of Liberia, an institution he helped to establish as one of its original incorporators.

Professional colleagues of the outgoing president, who are members of the bankers associations both in Liberia and in the sub-region expressed profound gratitude to the celebrant for the impactful role he has played during his stay in the industry.

“You have done well for your country and the banking industry. Though you will be missed greatly, we wish you success in your retirement age as well,” a statement from members of the Association read.

Meanwhile, the President of WABA, Thierno Seydou Nourou Sy and several bank executives across West Africa paid their tribute to the former LBA president.

Davies is also a former president of the West Africa Bankers Association (WABA), having served for two consecutive terms before stepping down in 2021 at the end of his final tenure.

Milton Weeks, former CBL Executive Governor and David Farhat, former Finance Minister, in their remarks, lauded the LBA for recognizing someone they considered has brought so much pride to Liberia, especially in the banking industry.

“I am very happy to see the progress that has been made with the banking institution,” Weeks said. “You have done a lot in the period that you served as President of LBDI. You provided leadership and I am proud to say that I am your friend both personally and professionally.”

Statements were also made by managing directors and chief executive officers of commercial banks, recognizing the efforts and roles played by Davies in the Liberian banking industry. 

In response, the honoree lauded the LBA for the honor and thanked all those who worked with him to make significant strides in the banking sector over the past eight years.

According to him, when he took over LBA, the banking sector was grappling with several challenges, but with the support of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), colleagues and partners, some of the problems were addressed.

“No one in the industry really knew, let alone understood what mobile money was. Integration of the banks was restricted to the presentation and clearing of checks manually at the clearing house. Two banks accounted for over 65 percent of all banking business in the country. 

“Naming and shaming was not even a thought for consideration, banking syndication and club deals were myths, and exclusivity in diaspora type remittances was the order of the day,” he continued to recount.

He named the modernization of processes and operating platforms, fostering unity within the sector, and sustained engagements with the CBL and the government as some of the gains made during his tenure. 

“It is my fervent wish and prayer that the small seeds that were sown during our tenure and have germinated will grow into even bigger trees with beautiful branches on which more mainstream financial institutions can blossom and our economy expand,” Davies explained.

He said the bankers association has made some very significant strides and supported successive Executive Governors and the Board of Governors of the CBL to achieve some laudable milestones. 

Davies added, “Our inputs in the conclusion of over 50 Prudential Regulations, the implementation of the Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan, the Amendment of the Central Bank Act Part one and Amendment to the Act Part two, the Maiden edition of the Collateral Registry, the Establishment of the Commercial Court, the National Payment System Part 1 and currently Part 2, which have led to RTGS and ACH systems, have all witnessed the LBA efforts at providing insights to the CBL. 

“We congratulate all of our former and current administration of the CBL, including the Directors who invited us into their space and allowed us to share some ideas,” he added. 

According to the honoree, club deals, commencing with the initial Lone Star MTN Syndication, the GOL Million special bonds, which were ultimately rolled into the GOL Long-term Bonds, are a testimonial of some of the proudest moments of strategic collaboration with the regulator and the GOL.

“The creation of the Banking Institute, the Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Charter Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; which have made it possible for Licensure Exams to be made available to Liberian banks' staff and potential managers; were all made possible with the collaboration of the CBL and the GOL.

“Under my leadership as president of the LBA and LBDI, GOL Small-holder Tree Crop Program of the Ministry of Agriculture and the GOL Post Ebola Dialogues on Manufacturing, Agriculture, and International Trade are just a few of the initiatives in which the Local Enterprise Authority was also a stakeholder,” he declared.

He further revealed that the LBA stepped up in supporting and collaborating with other institutions in GOL, including the amendment and restructuring of the National Aids Commission; the amendment to the FIU Act to make it more aligned with GIABA and FATAF expectations; thereby dodging the threat of sanctions on Liberia.