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PM picks vice governors for NBE, draws mixed reviews

PM picks vice governors for NBE, draws mixed reviews

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has approved the appointments of three new vice governors for the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), Ethiopia’s central banking institution. However, the top picks for the positions has been met with mixed reaction from finance and economic experts.

The Reporter was able to confirm that Fikadu Digafe, Solomon Desta and Eyob Gebre Eyesus have been elevated from their previous positions as heads of various directorates to assume the ranks of vice governorship at the nation’s most critical policy institution: the central bank.

Fikadu Digafe, who was in charge of external economic analysis and international relations, has been appointed as vice governor and chief economist with NBE, which is the most important of the three vice governorships. Solomon Desta, previously director of bank supervision division, has been assigned as vice governor for financial institutions supervision, taking over the role from Tiruneh Mitafa, who in turn replaced the long-serving Getahun Nana after he departed to lead the nation’s policy lending institution Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE).    

Likewise, Eyob Gebre Eyesus, previously director of payments and settlements, has assumed the vice governorship to lead corporate services with NBE. He replaces Yemane Yosief, who was heading NBE’s corporate services cluster at the vice governor level.

However, the top picks are drawing mixed reviews with some criticizing the appointments. Lauding the new appointments, experts within the central bank have defended the picks stating that the appointees have ample experience and good track record in the finance sector and with NBE in particular.

However, economists and financial experts argue on both sides. One senior economist, who wants to remain anonymous, criticized the move saying: “The new appointees generally lack the required leadership experience to assume a position as high-profile as these ones, especially given the current macroeconomic imbalance that is challenging the nation to its cores”.

Countering this view, the insider argues that the new appointees are capable of delivering results. “For instance, Fikadu Digafe, the newly appointed chief economist has a vast experience in research and analysis,” said anonymous NBE expert, “He is the one who managed many of the in-house policy documents over the years.”

The chief economist post has been vacant for quite some time, since the departure of Yohannes Ayalew (PhD), who has served NBE as vice governor and chief economist for many years. He was relieved from his position and was appointed as the executive director of the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI). He had 28 years of experience in the fields of finance, monetary policy and economic growth.

Back in 2018, Bekalu Zeleke, former president of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) was nominated to replace Yohannes, but his stay at the NBE was cut short when he left his post to lead a private bank.