Changes Afoot atop Central Bank




A veteran government official, Girma Biru, has assumed the chairmanship of the board of directors at the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), heralding a management reshuffle after almost a decade.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) appointed Girma to chair the board of the bank, replacing Mekonnen Manyazewal, head of the Policy Research Institute, who retired last May. Girma took the new post effective July 19, 2018. A month ago, the Premier appointed a new governor and vice governor for the bank.

Yinager Dessie (PhD), has moved from the National Planning Commission to govern the Central Bank, while Bekalu Zeleke, former president of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) joined NBE as a vice governor. They replaced Teklewolde Atnafu, who led the bank for two decades, and Yohannes Ayalew (PhD), a vice governor and chief economist for the past decade, respectively. The outgoing governors were board members of the bank as well.

After Mekonnen’s retirement and the departure of the two governors, the board conducted no meetings, according to a source close to the case.

Prime Minister Abiy has also added new members to the board of directors, bringing Eyob Tekalegne, the newly appointed commissioner of the Planning Commission and Bekalu, who automatically became a member of the board of directors since he is a vice governor. Abraham Tekeste (PhD), Minister of Finance & Economic Cooperation, Yinager and Teklewolde Atnafu, former governor of the central bank and currently heading the financial affairs office in the Prime Minister’s Office, will continue in their posts as directors.

Girma, who was Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States for seven years, holds a  bachelor’s degree in economics from Addis Ababa University and a master’s degree in economic policy and planning from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at The Hague. He has served as a minister in various government offices, including the former Ministry of Trade & Industry and the then Ministry of Economic Development & Cooperation.

Since 1992, he has also been a chairperson and member of the board of directors for various government institutions including the Development Bank of Ethiopia, the former Ethiopian Investment Agency, the Ethiopian Road Authority and the Ethiopian Social Rehabilitation Development Fund, a World Bank-funded project. He was also Chief Advisor to the Minister of Defense on Economic Issues. He was recently assigned to chair the board of Ethiopian Electric Power, replacing Debrestion Gebremicahel, who moved to be deputy head of Tigray Regional State. Girma chaired the same board a decade ago.

Girma has also served as an alternate governor of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and as a board member of Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) Bank-PTA Bank, representing Ethiopia from 1995 to 2001. Girma retired on June 7, 2018.

The central bank which seems to be undergoing reforms, organised a meeting for the business community last week. The governor and his two deputies sat down with leaders of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association and other selected business leaders to discuss challenges in the business community. Two weeks ago, the governor met privately with the presidents of the private commercial banks.



By FASIKA TADESSE
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Jul 21,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 951]


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