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Personal life and educational background
Sylvester A. Mensah, age 59, was born on December 28, 1963. His biological parents are from La, in the Greater Accra Region, and Keta in the Volta Region. He has both Ga and Ewe ancestry. He went to Datus Preparatory School and completed his primary school education at the Nana Osei-Djan Experimental School at Nsawam, where he passed his common entrance examination and was admitted to the St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School.
Sylvester Mensah subsequently did his sixth form at the Labone Secondary School and completed in 1985. He later proceeded to the University of Ghana Business School where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Administration. He holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK), a Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Ghana Business School, a Diploma in Political Economy from the Cottbus Political College in Germany, and a Diploma in Global Health from the Berkeley School of Public Health at the University of California, USA.
He attended the Harvard University School of Public Health where he took multiple competency courses and has numerous certificates for competency courses under his belt. Sylvester Mensah is a banker, finance professional, a strategic management expert, and a health insurance technocrat. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Business Consulting in the UK, and an Honorary Fellow of the Ghana Chartered Institute of Taxation. He is also an honorary citizen of Kansas and New Orleans cities in the United States. He is married and has four children. His educational background is extensive, as are his professional experiences. Sylvester Mensah is regarded as a top manager and an executor, a consensus builder who prioritizes results, firmness, and fairness. He is the author of a best-selling book “In the shadows of politics” and has a few academic publications to his credit.
Sylvester A. Mensah has over 35 years of varied work experience. He highlights professional and occupational diversity as a former chief executive of a large public institution, an elected Member of Parliament, an academician, a finance professional, a senior banker, and a fund manager. He is also a senior politician, a writer, a social worker, and an international resource person on social health insurance. Since 2019, Sylvester Mensah has been working as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Professional Studies, Accra. He was a senior banker who served as the Head of Public Sector Banking at the then Intercontinental Bank (Ghana) Ltd, now known as Access Bank, Ghana Ltd.
Sylvester Mensah also worked as an Adjunct Lecturer at the Central University Business School, Accra, Ghana, between 2006 to 2009; Full Time Lecturer in Strategic Management/Corporate Strategy and Business Communication at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana, from 2005 to 2007; Lecturer, Business Strategy at the London School of Accountancy & Management, UK, between 2003 to 2005; and Lecturer, Corporate Strategy & Marketing at the London College of Law & Business, UK in the same year.
He held positions on several governmental and private boards in Ghana. He was a member of the then WAPIC Insurance Board from 2008 and was appointed the Board Chairman of WAPIC Insurance (GH) Ltd from 2013 through to early 2016. He also served as board member of the National Identification Authority from 2009 to 2014 and board member of the National Health Insurance Authority from 2009 to 2015. He has been a board member of Perez Chapel International since 2009, Member of the Board of Trustees of Perez Chapel International from 2009 to date, and member of the Perez University Council from 2015 to date.
Sylvester Mensah consulted for some leading Radio Stations in Ghana on ‘Business Repositioning’ and occasionally served as lead resource person for Workshops on ‘Benchmarking and Repositioning’ among others. He is an international resource person and an expert on health financing, and financial risk protection against healthcare delivery. His international engagements have included such focus areas as stakeholder engagement and policy development, risk management techniques, and the design, redesign, and implementation of social/national health insurance schemes. Sylvester Mensah has delivered over 50 local and international technical presentations in the USA, UK, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and South Africa, among other countries. In Zambia and Tunisia, he was the African Development Bank’s lead resource person on the introduction of ‘a preferred health insurance model for the African Region’.
In Geneva, Switzerland, Sylvester Mensah was honoured with a UN/WHO award for leadership and excellence in 2010. He also received numerous honours, such as the West African Regional Magazine Achievers award in 2012, the African Prize for Excellence, and leadership in corporate governance from the Global Centre for Transformational Leadership in 2013. He was inducted into the West African Nobles Forum in 2011 as an eminent West African. He received the 2014 Best Chief Executive in Ghana Award from Imani Ghana, and the NHIA was recognized as the top public institution for the year. He received the West African Regional Magazine 2014 Business and Leadership honours award, which were presented in Brussels, Belgium, in the same year. These honours were given for his innovation and creativity, excellent performance, and transformational leadership. The La Abese Quarter of the La Traditional Council also honored him with the “Favorite Son of the Land” award.
Sylvester Mensah cut his teeth on the Ghanaian political stage in the early 1980s, as a grassroots actor and political foot soldier during the revolutionary period and joined the ranks of trained cadres in 1989. Beginning as a volunteer with the Students and Youth Task Force in 1982 as the Greater Accra Regional Logistics Coordinator, he rose from the ranks to become the Greater Accra Regional Liaison Officer of the National Mobilisation Programme (NMP) which has now become the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO).
Sylvester Mensah is a foundation member of the National Democratic Congress and was a member of the first regional executive committee that created the various party constituencies in the Greater Accra Region. In 1992, he became the NDC’s first Greater Accra Regional Youth Organiser. From 1994 until 2001, he was the Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the party. He contested in the 1996 Ghanaian Parliamentary Elections and won, becoming the Member of Parliament for the La Dade-Kotopon Constituency from 1997 to 2001. In 2005, he ran for the position of party general secretary but was defeated by the current Chairman of the party, Hon. Asiedu Nketia.
Sylvester Mensah also served as the chairman of the Finance Committee of the party in the Greater Accra Region. He is currently a member of the Council of Elders of the NDC in the Greater Accra Region. He was the Greater Accra Regional Campaign Coordinator during the 2016 general elections.
From 2015 to 2016, he was appointed to the Office of the President as a Presidential Staffer. He served as Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority, from 2009 to 2015. As Chief Executive of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Authority, he is credited with extensive organizational restructuring, systems building, change management, and for successfully initiating numerous policies, innovation, and creativity. He took charge of the National Health Insurance Scheme at a time when it had form and content challenges; at a time when the entire headquarters and regional offices operated from rented premises. Sylvester Mensah injected permanency into the scheme by relocating it into its own headquarters complex and regional offices and reducing future cost of rentals.
Significantly, he transformed the scheme from a mutual scheme where a subscriber could access healthcare only from his or her district to a unitary scheme where a registered member can now access healthcare everywhere in the country. Under his watch the scheme became more efficient with the introduction of such policies as Clinical Audit, Electronic Claims Management, Instant Biometrics ID Cards, among many others. He changed the enabling Act or law and introduced systems, structures and strategies to the management of Ghana’s NHIS, and he is considered the “father of the NHIS” in Ghana and the longest serving Chief Executive (6 years).
Sylvester Mensah ran for the position of National Democratic Congress flagbearer in 2019 but was unsuccessful.
Reporter: Dr. S. Amiteye, DFS Research Desk