By Avigayil Kadesh
Israel’s Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) conducted an eight-month analysis and training program in cooperation with the Kenya School of Monetary Studies – the body responsible for training employees from the Central Bank of Kenya – paid for by the World Bank.
“There is a financial crisis in the world, and we wanted to see how it affects East African countries in general and Kenya in particular, and what to do to minimize the damage,” says GIMI president Joseph (Yossie) Shevel, an expert in economic development. “Our goal was to determine how to upgrade the function of the Central Bank of Kenya.”
GIMI became involved in the project because a number of graduates from its twice-yearly program in international banking management now work in the Kenya banking system. Inspired by their own experiences, they asked GIMI to submit a proposal to the World Bank for this critical project.
‘Amazed at the banking system in Israel’
Over the course of the eight months, which ended in late September 2012, there was a lot of travel back and forth between Kenya and GIMI’s campus in Nahalal, in the Haifa area. Managers from the Kenya School of Monetary Studies came to Israel several times and worked with GIMI to formulate policies relating to training and human resources management in the Central Bank.
Kenyans with Galilee International Management
Institute Dean Dr. Nathan Tirosh
Among the group of Israeli college professors and professionals involved in the World Bank project were GIMI Dean Nathan Tirosh; International Cooperation Division Coordinator Janine Ross; Amos Baranes, a certified public accountant with a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago; Yossi Zelnik, a former Israeli banking executive and now academic director of GIMI’s banking management program; and Haim Taub, a specialist in human resources management and designing training programs in capacity-building.
Strategies for the future
“We went through every department there and analyzed needs,” says Shevel.
Meetings were held with a variety of stakeholders, including the Kenya Power & Lighting company, in order to better evaluate the courses that Kenya School of Monetary Studies offers.
Topics included the pension policy of Kenya, as well as strategies for commercial banks. GIMI faculty presented the Israeli model of the development of industries and small businesses.
The African visitors to Israel, Shevel reports, were “amazed at the banking system in Israel. They visited our Central Bank and other banks, and they want to implement some of what they saw here in banking and management methods.”
Due to the success of the World Bank-sponsored project, GIMI was asked to prepare a training program for all progressive central banks in East Africa -- Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda -- to be held in cooperation with the Kenya School of Monetary Studies and the Central Bank of Kenya.
This second phase, expected to last three years and eventually to include South Sudan, will begin in late 2013 and will be financed by the five countries’ central banks.
Heading off a looming crisis
“We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Bank of Kenya to continue supporting them in capacity-building and analysis of training needs,” says Shevel.
In a separate project, GIMI officials went to Nigeria’s Central Bank recently to meet with its management and identify several areas in which GIMI will devise special training programs.
“Nigeria has 170 million people and more than 6,000 employees in the Central Bank,” Shevel relates.
The challenges facing these African countries are inflation, soaring interest rates and difficulty attracting investors, he explains. The key to all these challenges rests in the hands of the central banks’ policies. And they trust the Israeli management institute to show them how to formulate their policies with the overall hope of getting more East Africans off the unemployment rolls.
“We can see there is about five percent [economic] growth in all five countries in the last five or six years -- a steady and permanent growth despite the financial crisis. That is a good sign,” says Shevel.
However, a looming population explosion threatens to curtail that growth unless wise financial moves are made quickly. “Everybody is very concerned that in the year 2050 the population in Kenya will be 100 million and if they don’t plan well now, there will be chaos and democracy will be at risk,” Shevel warns.