Olubanke King-Akerele, or Banke, as she is known generally, is a Liberian and former Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as former Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of Liberia, over the period 2006-2010. She studied at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria; at Brandeis University; Columbia University and completed first year of Law School at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia.
Prior to her period of public service, she was engaged for some 24 years (1982 – March 2006) in international development at senior levels with the United Nations System, notably, UNIFEM (today’s UN Women), UNDP, UNIDO and UNESCO. She served as United Nations Resident Coordinator, representing the UN Secretary General for development activities in the Field and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programmes in Mauritius and Seychelles as well as in Zambia. She was also Managing Director for UNIDO’s regional programmes (Africa; Asia and Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; the CIS; Eastern Europe and the Middle East). At that time, she was the most senior African at UNIDO-the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
Before joining the United Nations in 1982, she worked as a technical staff at the Liberia’s then Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs under the late Secretary Cyril Bright and subsequently late Secretary D. Franklin Neal, both of whom were her professional mentors. During that period, she was seconded for 5 years (1975-1980) to the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) as Deputy Director General and Counterpart to the ILO Advisor as they cleared the prerequisites that laid the foundations for today’s NASSCORP.
Retired from Government public service in November 2010, she is currently Chair of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, as well as Executive Director of the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism – an Action-oriented Development Initiative. The Institute has, in turn, produced educational and Patriotic Games.
She is passionate about the “Growing” (development and promotion) of a new generation of African Leadership, noteworthy amongst which, the Joint UNDP-UNESCO initiative at UNECO’s Regional Bureau for Africa for Africa’s Future Leadership; (in Dakar, Senegal), the “Growing” of Liberia’s Future Entrepreneurs; (Ministry of Commerce and Industry); and the “Development” Diplomats Training Programme (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Publications by Banke include Women’s Leadership in Post Conflict Liberia: My Journey; Another that she co-authored with Kojo Boafo Asiedu, Accelerating Africa’s Integration through Micro-regionalism: The case of the Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique Growth Triangle and its Impact; and The “Growing” of Africa’s Emergent Leadership, launched in February 2014 in Lusaka, Zambia, with a foreword by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, First President of Zambia. That book has been transformed into a bilingual Educational development Board Game. First released at the Alliance Francaise in Accra Ghana in November 2016 and subsequently released in Swahili in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2017; in French at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire in November 2017 and in Washington DC, U.S.A.
Her most recent publication The “Liberian” Way: Breaking the Cycle, and subtitled The “Growing” of Liberia’s Emergent Leadership, with foreword by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was released in November 2017 in Liberia at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law by Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and critiqued by Dr. Herman Browne, President of Cuttington University.
Proceeds of the sales of her Books and Games, go to support internships opportunities for Africa’s Young Professionals; education of orphans of Ebola Virus in Liberia or programmes resulting from the impact of Ebola (DRASA Trust in Nigeria) in the Sub-region through the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism and the Stella Maris Polytechnic.
Her areas of expertise are industrial development; mainstreaming of women in development; leadership development; regional integration; and South-south Cooperation, having undertaken a 4 months UNDP sponsored sabbatical in the South-East Asia’s Tiger economies of Malaysia; – Singapore; Indonesia; Thailand and the Philippines in 1998. She has successfully transferred the South–East Asian development experiences in her assignments in Africa generally.