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Liberia: Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, a seasoned economist at the IMF

Antoinette Monsio Sayeh is a Liberian economist. Former Minister of Finance of Liberia and World Bank official for over 17 years, she has been Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since March 2020. She is the first African woman to hold this position within the organization.

Antoinette Monsio Sayeh is a seasoned economist with a prolific career which propelled her to the position of Deputy Managing Director of one of the most important financial organizations in the world, the IMF, in 2020. A position that has only been held by two Africans since the creation of the institution in 1945. The first African to occupy it being the current Ivorian president Alassane Dramane Ouattara appointed in 1994.

She holds a B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in International Economic Relations from Tufts University in the USA. She began her career as an economic advisor in the Ministry of Finance and Planning of Liberia in 1980. Then, she joined the World Bank where she held several positions within the institution for 17 years. She was in turn operations director for Benin, Niger and Togo and country economist for Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

An economist for Africa

In 2006, she joined President Ellen Johnson’s government as Minister of Finance. She is the second woman to hold this position in the country, after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. For two years, she led several projects in the country. She set herself the goal of reviving the country’s economy, which had been weakened by 14 years of civil war. She succeeded in getting Liberia into the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, as a result of which the country’s debt was cancelled by the Paris Club. She also helped normalise relations between Liberia and the international community. She has also made great efforts to ensure transparency in the extractive industries sector. In 2006, the country’s leading steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, accepted to revise the mining agreement signed a year earlier. 

In 2008, she joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Director of the Africa Department. She contributed, in particular, to the development of relations between the IMF and the African countries that are members of the Fund. In particular, she dealt with the dysfunction of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) and managed the crisis between the IMF and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). She also managed the response to the economic consequences of the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

In 2016, she became a researcher at the International Development Research Centre associated with the World Bank. She spent 4 years there. In 2020, she was appointed Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. She is in charge of coordinating the financial and monetary policies of African countries.