The development of a functioning private banking sector is crucial to the economic growth of states in transition. Travelling to Libya in October 2013 Mark Dempsey, former advisor to the Iraqi Central Bank, discovered a financial sector in total neglect – with little genuine appetite for reform by either the Ministry of Finance or the Central Bank.

Dempsey presented his findings and recommendations at a lively panel discussion, held in partnership with Brehon Advisory. He was joined by former Libyan Health Minster, Dr Fatima Hamroush and Mary Fitzgerald, Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Irish Times.

Dr Hamroush gave a first-hand account of the unreformed bureaucratic structures that hobbled the decision-making process in Libya’s Transitional Government. Mary Fitzgerald outlined Libya’s current political landscape, focusing on the diverse Islamist current, eastern federalism and regional rivalries – all factors with implications for Dempsey’s proposed recommendations.

The conversation was moderated by Legatum Institute Director of the Transitions Forum, Anne Applebaum.

Dempsey's paper, Libya in Transition: Reforming the financial sector to spur economic growth, is available here.

Video (Livestream)


About Mark Dempsey

Mark Dempsey is an experienced banker, having worked with the EUREX Futures and Options Exchange in Frankfurt, BNP Paribas and Depfa Bank Plc. Most recently Mark was regional director for the Financial Services Volunteer Corp (FSVC), a US non-profit organisation dedicated to the rebuilding of financial systems. In that capacity, Mark spent from 2008 to February 2012 working on a programme of technical assistance with the Central Bank of Iraq, based in Amman, Beirut and Baghdad. Mark has written for a number of publications on Iraq, including the Financial Times and the Irish Times.

Mark has a BA in Economics & Finance from the University of Ulster and an MSc in European Economics and Public Affairs from the Dublin European Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland.

About Fatima Hamroush

Dr Fatima Hamroush is the former Minister of Health to the Libyan Transitional Government (November 2011-November 2012) - her appointment among 24 government ministers followed the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Her nomination stemmed from her profile as a leading personality, an active and influential member of the Libyan opposition, and her work during the revolution as the head of the Irish Libyan Emergency Aid organisation and the head of the Libyan Health Office of Ireland.

Dr Hamroush began her political activities in 2008, when she was active in writing and publishing articles against human rights abuses in Libya. From 2009 to 2011, she was the co-editor of “Libya Al-Mostaqbal”, a major Gaddafi-opposition website. She also contributed efforts and funding to opposition activities such as anti-corruption and anti-abuse protests across Europe.

Dr Hamroush returned to Ireland to assume her medical post following the end of her tenure as Minister of Health. She maintains her political activism and continues to publish and speak independently to Libyan and international media regarding political issues in the country.

About Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is the Irish Times Foreign Affairs Correspondent. She began her career reporting on Northern Ireland before relocating to the Middle East. Now based in Dublin, she works across the Middle East, Africa and south Asia, reporting from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Her work has appeared in several other publications including Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and the Guardian. In 2004 she was awarded the Laurence Stern Fellowship at the Washington Post.

Mary takes a particular interest in the dynamics shaping Muslim-majority countries. In 2006 she spent five months reporting on Islam in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey for the Irish Times after she was awarded the inaugural Douglas Gageby Fellowship.

Mary is a frequent contributor to international broadcast media including the BBC, CBS News and Ireland’s state broadcaster RTÉ. She has worked on a number of award-winning radio documentaries for the BBC, one of which won a Gold Sony Radio Academy Award.

Mary spent several months in Libya during the 2011 revolution, and regularly returns to the country. She has researched Libya’s Islamist milieu for a forthcoming book on the Libyan revolution and its aftermath. She has also participated as a volunteer instructor in a training programme for Libyan journalists. Mary is taking a year-long sabbatical from the Irish Times from December to relocate to Libya for reporting and research projects.

The Transitions Forum is a series of projects dedicated to the challenges and possibilities of radical political and economic change.