Liberia is poised to assume the chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) for the first time in the nation’s history.
News about this remarkable development was contained over the weekend in a statement emanating from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development (MFPD) heralding the convening of the 12th Ordinary Meeting of the Board of Governors of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development on today, June 16 at the Royal Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.
The meeting will accordingly review the Bank’s activities over the last four years and chart a new strategic direction for coming years. Delegates would assess and discuss the Bank’s resource mobilization position, particularly its funding portfolio and the need for capital injection by member states. The discussions would also review operational and policy issues, ranging from loan approvals, commitments currently financed and the status of commitments from member countries.
Liberia's chairmanship puts Finance Minister Amara Konneh at the helm of the Board of Governors of the ECOWAS Bank.
This development comes at a critical time when Liberia is just a year into the implementation of its medium term development plan, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), amidst budgetary constraints that are underpinned by increasing expenditure-related deficits that overshadow meager revenue resource inputs.
A cross section of citizens who spoke to the Daily Observer has expressed high optimism about Liberia’s ascendency to the EBID Board Chairmanship, which many feel, will translate into tangible dividends for the country.
For Miss Mardea Clarke of Clay Street, “Liberia’s chairmanship of EBID is a groundbreaking milestone that requires celebration. “Serving as Board Chair will give us the leverage as a country to have more voice and to have access to long term loans,” she said.
Joe Sartieh of New Kru Town added “this development comes at the right time when the country is in dire need of external support to drive its development programs. If Liberia gains the chairmanship of this important bank, our representation will help shift the attention of the regional financial body to Liberia”.
“Of course, Liberians will benefit from the ECOWAS Bank chairmanship”, says Miatta Sombai, a resident of the central business district of Monrovia, owner of a thriving export/import business. But she expressed reservations about whether such opportunity will eventually trickle down to the ordinary citizenry.
In 2010, EBID announced a US$5 million investment in the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI). According to that arrangement, US$2 million of the US$5 million represented an equity investment in LBDI, while US$3 million was a long term financing deal between the two banks.
The EBID, formerly the ECOWAS Fund was established by the Authority of Head of States of ECOWAS in 1979 as a leading regional investment and development finance bank for West Africa to foster infrastructure, trade, technology, and social service development through low interest lending capital.
The EIBD was founded to help leverage lending capital within the ECOWAS zone and support member states carry out development projects aimed at alleviating poverty and driving economic growth and the development.
The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), the financial arm of ECOWAS is an international finance Institution established by the 15-member States of ECOWAS which include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Its headquarters is in Lomé, Togo.
It emerged following the transformation, in 1999, of the former ECOWAS Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development (created at the same time with ECOWAS and became operational in 1979). Two Liberian financial experts, Romeo Horton and Robert Tubman served EBID as executive directors, respectively.
EBID, as a bank became operational on 1st January 2004 like a holding with two subsidiaries. Since January 2007, it was reorganized into single organization with two windows, one for the promotion of the private sector and the other, for the development of the public sector.