The 12th ECOWAS Bank for Investment & Development (EBID) Board of Governors Summit hasended in the Liberian capital, Monrovia with the ascendancy of Liberia’s Finance Minister, Amara Konneh as Chairman of the Board.
Addressing the one-day summit, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the holding of the summit in Liberia indicates the restoration of international confidence in the capacity of the country to deliver.
She described it as an important event marking a turning point in the post-war country’s relentless pursuit to regain its place within the comity of nations.
President Sirleaf urged the regional financial institution to expand its capital base through non-member investment, noting that such outside investment will enable the bank access the needed capital to address the crucial needs of member states in creating job opportunities and combating poverty.
On where the country currently stands economically, President Sirleaf told the governors that despite the sharp economic decline occasioned by a devastating civil war, the performance of the economy has been ‘remarkable in the last eight years’ where “GDP averaged over 7percent.”
“In 2013, real GDP was estimated at 8.7 percent while inflation was contained at 8.5 percent which saw a 14 percent depreciation of theLiberian dollar,” she said.
According to the Liberian leader “Inflation is expected to moderate to 7 percent in 2014, if imported food and fuel prices remain stable.”
President said she expects a slowdown in the country’s economic output in 2014 “as GDP growth is projected at 5.9 percent.”
In his induction speech, Finance Minister Konneh said: “As our economies and societies sustain stresses of many kinds, due to their growing exposure to external shocks, we must attach renewed urgency to securing EBID’s position as our first port of call to meet these challenges.”
He said EBID is faced with many challenges including capitalization and resource requirements of the bank to make sustain growth and expansion.
EBID’s President, Basher M. IFO observed that sustained economic growth and stability have allowed Liberia make notable gains on key Millennium Development Goals targets, noting that the proportion o people living below the poverty line is estimated to have fallen from 64.5 percent in 2007 to 56 percent in 2010.
On his bank’s status, IFO said despite challenges in 2013, total assets of the bank increased by 12.3 percent from UA 359.5 million at end-December 2012, to UA 403.6 million at December 2013.
He said during this period, 21 projects amounting to UA 153.7 million or US$232.9 million were implemented by the bank.
“This brings to UA 1.15 billion for 177 projects for member states between January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2013,” he told the meeting.
He said new commitments amounted to UA 118.7 million (US$180 million) for 15 projects in 2013, an increase of 40 percent over 2012.
EBID, formerly the ECOWAS fund, was established by the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS in 1979 as a leading regional investment and development finance bank for West Africa.
It aims to foster infrastructure, trade, technology and social service development through low interest lending capital.
The meeting held for the first time in Liberia, reviewed the Bank’s activities over the last four years and charted a new strategic direction for coming years.
Headquartered in Lomé, Togo, member countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
EBID, as a financial institution became operational on 1st January 2004 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.