Special Feature

Thousands of Africans in America are returning to Liberia with the Repatriation of Liberian Diplomat and Consul General

Now that the Republic of Liberia is currently in talks to repatriate Dr. Malachi York a Liberian Diplomat who is languishing in Florence ADX Supermax prison, in the U.S., thousands of his supporters of the United Nuwaupians Worldwide who are particularly Africans in America and Africans in the Caribbean are preparing to return home to the land that they view historically as a land of Liberty, the Republic of Liberia.


This new exodus of Africans in America to Liberia is a continuation of the settling migrations of descendants of African slaves and indigenous peoples of the Americas that have longed wished to return back to their grassroots to escape the racism, discrimination and abuses endured in the U.S. This prepared exodus is not something new, great African American leaders implemented plans to immigrate to Africa known as ‘Back to Africa’ movements during the late 1800 and 1900’s. Marcus Garvey particularly was pivotal in motivating thousands of Africans in America to journey across the Atlantic on the ‘Black Star’ ship line to settle in the great land of Liberty to join the extended families of West Africa in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

This new Exodus has gained momentum in the U.S. as thousands of Africans in America plan in joint ventures to assist in the rapid development of West Africa, Dr. Doosua York Chair of the International Diaspora African Forum and President of the Dr. Malachi York Foundation here in Liberia says that ‘It is imperative that Africans in America encourage the pursuit of the land of Liberty in West Africa, Liberia and like countries has always been our home to pursue real equal opportunities, a place where you will be excepted by your very own kind with open arms.’

Africans in America contribute to billions of dollars annual to the economy of the U.S. yet they still are continuously discriminated against and racism in the country has seemed to become more overt and socially accepted as normal. With the repatriation of Dr. Malachi York a Liberian West African leader of Africans in the Diaspora his 40 year influence of great leadership amongst the people have led to a inspiring conscious awakening of the realization that ‘African is for Africans’ and that in order for the successful rise of Liberia as an economic powerhouse on the continent Nuwaupians Worldwide, Africans in America have to contribute to the economic stimulation needed to secure the future the Republic of Liberia.

On March 31, 2018 President Donald Trump recently lifted the protection of Liberians in the U.S. and ending a program that has allowed immigrants to remain in the United States and work legally since 1999, nearly 800,000 thousand refugees fled Liberia during the war some sought protection in the U.S. This program ending is a reality check for many Liberians that the U.S. is no longer welcoming Africans in America, giving greater meaning this new exodus and repatriation of Africans in America back to Liberia. Along with repatriation of Dr. Malachi Z. York many Liberians feel as though it is time to come together and continue to build where we are welcomed.

This modern day Exodus will do great wonders for the peoples of the Republic as the Africans in America who are preparing to re-settle here are bringing profession skills, and craftsmanship, educators in academics and health, master builders, engineers, architects and other skill sets needed to balance the needs of the peoples of Liberia. Lets welcome our sisters and brothers with open arms as they work with the Republic of Liberia to continuously restore the dignity and pride of our nation.

Return to Active Duty for a Cause

The unfortunate situation I find myself in currently following President George Weah’s unexplained outbursts against me, and the subsequent high-level misrepresentations and misinterpretations of the issue and historical facts compels me to make this clarion call: If you are an older journalist or media practitioner sitting somewhere in self-imposed retirement, please return to active duty. Return because the absence of people like you in the mainstream media ---- leaving journalism solely with the young ones with little experience---- is not doing our country any good.


I appreciate and admire the brilliant work young journalists are doing under difficult conditions; but they need the help of the older, experienced ones for mentorship to excel. I think leaving them alone is unfair.

RECENT LESSON LEARNED FROM THE VETERAN KENNETH Y. BEST

In his BBC interview, played on the evening of Sunday, April 17, the veteran journalist Kenneth Y. Best mentioned that his ability to remember things when he was as young as four years old was one factor that made him a successful journalist. Remembering events, the 79-year-old said, makes media coverage easier. I could not agree with him more.

This is the challenge facing the current generation of media people in the country in trying to accurately present historical facts. As I said, I admire their courage and commitment to the noble profession; in the face of difficulties, they are scoring some successes; but being too young to remember some of the major happenings in our recent past poses a serious challenge to them.
The fact that the vast majority of them are too young to know events and occurrences of the 1990’s, for example, means they have to rely on second hand accounts of things to report; this is an impediment.

When investigating certain happenings, our knowledge of the events means more to us than the accounts of others. This is one shortcoming for young and promising Liberian journalist who are in the majority in the profession today; they have the urge to excel, they are doing a fantastic job; but their lack of knowledge of how, for example, the civil war of the 1990’s started and ended, who were the key players, and who did what at what times leaves them vulnerable to believe people’s selfish accounts of the national upheaval.

A media practitioner who is thirty years old now, for example, was born in 1987; this means he or she was less than three years old when the civil war broke out in 1989; and obviously that journalist has very little or no knowledge at all about the advances of the NPFL forces in the early 1990’s, the formation and roles of rival armed groups, and, moving forward, that journalist cannot speak to who did what, say, during the April 1996 Monrovia crisis because they were just too young to remember things.

What makes this even worse is we are not a country where accurate and unbiased accounts of past events are written; and even if they were written, by nature, we are not fond of reading.


This is one reason why people tell lies and go unquestioned.

If those who are engaged in active media work in Liberia today were largely people who are old enough to remember and write about the rice riot of April 1979, the military coup of April 1980, the rigged presidential and general elections of 1985, the Thomas Quiwonkpa-led failed coup of November 1985, the 1997 election of Charles Taylor and so on, they would be reporting on the civil war from an informed position.

But sadly, instead of older and experienced journalists remaining in the profession to mentor the young ones, they have left the practice squarely with the young ones to fend for themselves.


Because of this gap, there is a likelihood that the young media community would be fed with false official accounts of past happenings without question.

Of course, If we still had in active practice knowledgeable journalists who have gone into self-imposed retirement, the pronouncement by President George Weah that he was in human rights advocacy during the bloody civil war would have been seriously challenged, with no disrespect to the head of state. But because the vast majority of media people in active practice today are too young to know who did what during the civil war, many of them were tempted to believe the president.
People take advantage of others’ lack of awareness to get away with things that are not true. We need to work toward tackling these challenges.

If we had older journalists practising side-by-side with the young ones, they would not be told what roles the current information minister, for example, played in the recent past ---- in the NFPL, in the much-feared police then and then in the offices of former Vice President and President Moses Blah (a former General of the NPFL) before ending up with the CDC just in 2005.

But all that most of the young practitioners know is that Eugene Nagbe was originally with the CDC, crossed over to the Unity Party when the grass there was still greener, and then when the leaves were fast falling on the side of the Unity Party, he returned to the CDC.
And so Eugene can succeed in presenting himself as a perfectly clean gentleman and get away with it because even most of those hosting radio talk shows in Monrovia are too young to know his past affiliations. But I am just using these instances as examples of what happens when old hands are not involved in moulding society.


We often hear people make claims either to vindicate or bring unnecessary glory upon themselves and all they say as a proof is “the records are there.” We have never tried to check whether those records are actually there to see.

That is our national shortcoming. We don’t research, we don’t go beyond what people claim; and so we are very likely to end up placing serious national responsibilities in the hands of the wrong ones. Smooth talking has earned unqualified people top jobs in Liberia in recent times.

The point is, experience matters in everything we do. When my wife and I arrived in the United Kingdom in 2008 to receive the Speaker Award, I was on a tour of the parliament building when my guy showing me around, Colin Brown, an elderly, actively practising journalist, asked me: Jonathan, how old are you? When I responded I am 45 years old, he said back to me: so you are still a young chicken in the profession? Mr. Brown was in his mid-sixties but still feeling he had a long time still in the profession. We retire from journalism in Liberia in our thirties.

So I think in order to help the young community of journalists in Liberia grow, we the older practitioners should place ourselves in the position of a palm tree. For a palm tree to grow, the old fonds (leaves) eventually give way to the young fonds, but the old fonds don’t just fall suddenly; they remain hanging up there, watching the young fonds grow and become strong and capable to carry on before falling at last.

In short, we need back in the filed seasoned journalists who still have the potential to help a crumbling society but who have left the media work in the hands of the young ones --- young ones who are desperately yearning for direction and guidance.

By Jonathan Paye-Layleh
(A practicing Liberian journalist)

Russia strengthens ties with African nations

Russian President Vladimir Putin has assertively reminded 17 newly arrived foreign envoys to make efforts to facilitate the development of multifaceted relations with Russia in every possible way, strengthen political dialogue, boost trade and economic relations, deepen humanitarian and cultural ties.


"The role of diplomacy and diplomats are particularly important," he explained and gave the assurance that Moscow was committed to constructive dialogue with its foreign partners and would unreservedly promote a positive agenda.

"For our part, we are ready to welcome your constructive initiatives, you can count on the support of Russian authorities, state institutions, business circles and the public," Putin said, addressing the foreign ambassadors in a special ceremony held in the Alexander Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace.

The 17 newly appointed ambassadors are from Austria, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Italy, Jordan, Nigeria, Montenegro, Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, The Gambia, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

During the speech, Putin strongly reminded them about the growing challenges and threats confronting the global community and urged them to play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainable development, global peace and stability.

"As for Russia, it will continue to consistently be committed to strengthening global and regional security and stability and fully comply with its international obligations, build constructive cooperation with partners based on respect relying on international legal norms and the United Nations Charter," the Russian leader said.

According to Putin, "diplomats are called upon to facilitate the joint search for answers to large-scale challenges and threats, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and climate change."

In addition to supporting greater security, stability and delivering promptly on its international obligations, Putin also emphasized the readiness of Russia to continue boosting overall ties both at bilateral level and on the world stage with African countries. According to the longstanding tradition, the Russian leader said a few words about the interaction with the individual countries in the welcome speech.

Of particular importance, Putin noted that Russia was interested in broadening ties with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"We very much appreciate our relations with Nigeria, an important partner for us on the African continent. We support the further expansion of mutually beneficial Russian-Nigerian ties, including cooperation on hydrocarbon extraction and aluminum production, as well as in the military-technical field," he told the new Nigerian ambassador, Professor Steve Davies Ugba, who had arrived with an accumulated experience in corporate affairs and several years of academic teaching in the United States.

He went on to inform the gathering that the foundation for the cooperation between Russia and Ghana was laid over 60 years ago. "We have accumulated a great deal of experience in working together in both the trade and economic sphere and in politics. Currently, we are developing promising projects in the nuclear and oil industries, and we are discussing the prospects of supplying Ghana with Russian airplanes, helicopters and automobiles," Putin said.

Oheneba Dr. Akyaa Opoku Ware, Ghana's ambassador to the Russian Federation, was one of those who presented credentials to Putin. By profession, she is a qualified medical doctor from The Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed as an ambassador to the Russian Federation and former Soviet republics by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on September 13, 2017.

With regards to the Arab Republic of Egypt, Putin offered a bit more saying that the strategic partnership with Egypt is being strengthened. In August, Russia and Egypt will mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Cooperation between Russia and Egypt is very active and includes the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Egypt, the establishment of a Russian industrial zone in the Port Said region, and the deepening of military and defense industry cooperation.

"I would also like to point out that regular flights between the capitals of the two countries have been resumed. We continue to work on resuming the rest of the flights," he pointed out.

Last December, fruitful talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi were held in Cairo, he noted, and added that they both maintained regular dialogue on a range of topics, including relevant international and regional issues because both countries have had close or similar positions. Quite recently, Putin heartily congratulated the President of Egypt on his resounding victory at the recent elections.

According to diplomatic sources, Mr. Ihab Talaat Nasr, the new Egyptian ambassador to Russia, has replaced Mr. Mohammed al-Badri who completed his mission late October 2017. Previously, Ihab Nasr was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt responsible for European affairs.

The Gambia was in the Kremlin for the first time in the country's history with the official opening of an embassy in Moscow. Madam Jainaba Bah, a Senior Member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), became the first resident ambassador of The Gambia in the Russian Federation.

"Our ties with the Republic of The Gambia are traditionally constructive. The Russian side is interested in expanding economic cooperation, including by increasing the supply of machinery and agricultural products to the republic. We will continue to expand the practice of training Gambian specialists at Russian universities," the Russian leader explained.

Significantly, Putin underscores the fact that friendly cooperation is maintained with the Republic of the Congo. Bilateral cooperation covers a number of major projects, including the construction of a 1,334 km oil pipeline. In February, Rosatom and the Science Ministry of the Congo signed a memorandum of understanding. Over 7,000 citizens of the Congo have received higher education at Soviet and Russian universities.

Talking about Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, he said that Russia's relations with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire would continue to develop in traditionally constructive spirit.

"We mainly interact with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in the trade and economic sphere. Russia supplies to this country chemical and food products and imports cocoa and its derivatives. As part of our humanitarian efforts, medicine and medical equipment from Russia are regularly sent to the Republic," Putin told the new ambassador, Mr. Roger Gnanga, who had served in diplomatic post in Washington.

Currently, Côte d'Ivoire is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Russia also stands ready to work with the Ivorian side at the UN.

Interestingly, Benin has frequently changed its ambassadors. Mr. Noukpo Clement Kiki, the newly appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the Russian Federation, is a professional teacher and administrator for over 20 years. Quite recently, he had a short diplomatic stint in Canada and now transferred to Moscow.

Relations with Benin are developing in a constructive spirit. Russia cooperates on energy and transport. Russia exports food and chemical products. Over 2,500 citizens of Benin have graduated from Russian universities, according to Putin.

Whatever the possible shortfalls, Putin optimistically expects that, with active participation of the 17 newly arrived ambassadors, these relations will develop dynamically for the mutual benefit of the peoples of their individual countries and Russia, and in the interests of international stability and security.

"I am confident that your time in Russia will allow you to better know our country and its rich history and culture, and will leave you with new unforgettable impressions," Putin, elected for another six-year presidential term and will be inaugurated into office on May 7, told the gathering.

In conclusion, Putin congratulated the new foreign envoys with the official beginning of an important and honorable diplomatic mission, and with the hope that their activities in the Russian Federation will be productive and promote the development of relations between the countries they represent and the Russian Federation. *This article by Kester Kenn Klomegah, an independent researcher writer on African affairs in the Russian Federation.

By Kester Kenn Klomegah in Moscow

WHO ARE THE SHAREHOLDERS OF PAN AFRICAN REAL ESTATE CORPORATION (PAREC)

With an annual income of US $2.8 million and total income of US $34.5 million in the 12 years ending December, 2018 from the UN Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, there appears to be shocking mystery regarding “ownership, in terms of the identities of Shareholders and corporate activities of Pan African Real Estate Corporation” during this digital, computerized age of information technology.


The corporation is, or was, state-owned enterprise that replaced the dissolved, state-owned Libyan-Liberian Holding Company (LLHC) as owner/manager of the Pan African Plaza, in which the Governments of Libya and Liberia hold 50-50 interests.

The Libyan African Investment Company (LAICO) was established in 1990 under the provision No. 660 of the Libyan government, and was later acquired by the Libya Africa Portfolio (LAP) in 2006, with a share capital of 992,912,800 Libyan Dinars.

In accordance with its articles of association, LAICO is a holding company, acting as one of the arms of the Libyan sovereign wealth through investing Libyan funds in Africa, mainly in hospitality, hotels and real estate sectors, as well as other multipurpose sub-holding companies, with a long-term, pragmatic vision of developing and diversifying national wealth and revenue streams of the Libyan economy. Therefore, the Libyan-Liberian Holding Company represented Libyan African Investment Company (LAICO) in Liberia.

The Pan African Plaza is owned/managed by
The Libyan-Liberian Holding Company (LLHC)
Replaced by Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC)


ASSETS: 8-storey Building in the City of Monrovia, Liberia

Investment sector: Real estate Sector

Shareholders:
• 50% LAICO Libyan Government
• 50% Liberian Government
Libyan-Liberian Holding Company (LLHC)
The “Liberian-Libyan Holding Company (LLHC) was established in the early 80s out of a treaty between the two government (Libya and Liberia) which was signed in 1974. Prior to the (civil) war the partnership was on a 50-50 level and the company was involved in real estate and related economic development” (www.winne.com/lr/interviews/mr. Eugene Peabody).

“On the basis of . . . agreement, the Liberian-Libyan Holding Company was formally established in 1978, remained in existence in 1983 and apparently stood at the centre of relations between the two countries. The purpose of the company is ‘to develop and execute financial, commercial, industrial, maritime transportation’” (https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1461659310).

LLHC & Others Dissolved
The Libyan-Liberian Holding Company and six other state-owned enterprises were dissolved by Legislations upon request dated June 5, 2015 by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on the grounds that “they are no more viable and significant to the (economy of) country”. But LLHC was replaced by the Pan African Real Estate Corporation.

Information Blackout
According to the newspaper New Democrat (New Democrat, April 5, 2018), there is complete blackout on the activities of the Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC), identity of its shareholders, payment of their individual annual return on investment, Corporate income and withholding tax liability under law. Much of that which is known includes the struggles by the warlords (of the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia, ACDL), human rights violators and killers began, that:

1) In 2004, the late Harry Greaves, the Treasurer of the ACDL, and the late Willie Knuckles claimed that former President Taylor had granted them ownership of Pan African Plaza through lease agreement. So, Mr. Jacques Klein, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Liberia in 2002 and head of UNMIL seeking offices for the Peace Keepers, sent a Miss Linda Fawaz to the exiled President Charles Taylor in Calabar, Nigeria. Mr. Taylor’s response was that there was no such agreement.

2) UNMIL, then, negotiated a lease agreement with “owners” of Pan African Plaza and paid US $2.8 million per year would paid a total of US $34.5 million ending 2018. But who are the shareholders of this state-owned enterprise? The answer has become a mystery. But the issue of corporate income and withholding tax, and shareholders’ payment of annual return on investment (including the Government of Liberia) were critical to the tax authorities of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

3) In an email statement, LRA’s Communication & Public Affairs Manager, Mr. D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh wrote, “This property (Pan African Plaza) is not in compliance with its real estate tax liability nor withholding on rent. The building is currently occupied by UNMIL and it is difficult to access the premises by enforcers to enforce the tax laws. This challenge/impediment is attributed to the reference to Geneva Convention of 1946 on the work of the UN and their diplomatic immunity”.

4) Furthermore, Ms. Leigh Robinson, Head of UNMIL Public Information Office wrote in a response that “UNMIL rents the Pan African Plaza (PAP) from the Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC), a company registered under the laws of Liberia. Amongst others, the Government of Liberia is significant shareholder in PAREC . . . UNMIL has rented PAP since 2006. The rent that UNMIL pays to PAREC is governed by contractual confidentiality. However, UNMIL has no objection if PAREC releases this information to the public”.

5) According to the New Democrat newspaper, “from the accounts between UNMIL and LRA there is one company with ownership of the building, the Pan African Plaza: That is the Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC) which replaced the dissolved Libyan-Liberian Holding Company. The offices of PAREC are at N/N 7th Street, Sinkor”. And

6) At “PAREC’s 7th Street office, it is forbidden to talk about the company’s activities and its shareholders. Contacted on April 2, 2018, the un-identified manger said, ‘this is top secret, why do you want me to give you my secret? Go and ask your government’”.

Our Conclusions
From the foregoing we conclude, reasonably, that:

a) Ownership of Pan African Plaza is known to be the Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC) located on 7th Street, Sinkor, Monrovia; that UNMIL contracted to pay annual rent to the Pan African Real Estate Corporation in the amount of US $2.8 million per year since 2006 and that it is known that the LRA is aware of tax delinquency of the Corporation (PAREC) and UNMIL but refuses, neglects or ignores enforcement of the law, citing Geneva Convention regarding UN diplomatic immunity;

b) But diplomatic immunity as provided by the Geneva Convention does not apply to “for-profit” entities or corporations such as PAREC from income, withholding tax liabilities, including employees of diplomatic missions;

c) Disclosure of the identities of the shareholders is a legal requirement, although governed by imposed “contractual confidentiality” for non-disclosure of such identities. Such a contract is in clear violation of Freedom of information Act, especially, in this case in which the Liberian Government is major shareholder in PAREC; and

d) UNMIL says, clearly, that it entertains no objection for PAREC to release the contracted non-disclosure information to the public.

e) That the illegal non-disclosure contract was designed to protect the identities of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf & company who have been pocketing public resources to the tune of US $34.5 million, including loss of income, withholding and real estate taxes.

The Liberian-Libyan Diplomatic/Economic Connection
The Libyan-Liberian Holding Company (LLHC) in which the two governments hold 50% share each, was financed 100% by the Libyan Government of Colonel Mumar Khadaffi.

In fact, the Libyan Leader was one of the major supporters of the ACDL civil war of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleeaf. ACDL delegations, including the late Harry Greaves as special representative of Mrs. Sirleaf, travelled to the Libyan Capital, Tripoli, for audience with Colonel Khadaffi. He provided military training in Libya for the NPFL/INPFL fighting forces, arms and ammunitions for the War. But . . .

But (a), After former President Taylor was convicted of war crimes against Humanity and given a prison term of 50 years (an event aided & abetted by the President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s manipulative efforts) and (b), after the Western states’ “no-fly-zone” over territorial Libya with the murder of the Libyan President who financed the Libyan-Liberian Holding Company, the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf & company saw and availed itself an excellent opportunity to kill and did “kill several birds with one stone”:

1) Announced public support of the Western States’ war, political/economic isolation of and against Colonel Khadaffi and the Libyan nation;

2) Dissolved the 100% Libyan-financed Libyan-Liberian Holding Company (LLHC) and took complete control of its assets, the Pan African Plaza, the 8-stoey building at 1st Street, Sinkor, Monrovia; and
3) Formed the Pan African Real Estate Corporation (PAREC), apparently, owned by Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf & company but governed by non-disclosure (of identities of shareholders) contract, an illegal gag order in violation of the Freedom of information Act

Infrastructural Development: Panacea to Poverty Reduction in Post-Conflict States

By: Thomas Kaydor, Jr.
I. Introduction
This case study is on the Republic of Liberia, Africa’s first independent republic, located on the west coast of Africa. The country maintained an aristocratic republican democracy for 133 unbroken years (Sawyer 1991), but later slipped into a devastating 14 years civil war, which ended in August 2003. The war killed about 250,000 people of the country’s four million population, and damaged key infrastructure and basic social services including homes, electricity, education, health and water facilities, bridges, roads, air and sea ports, and telecommunication (UN in Liberia 2013). Peace and security have been restored to Liberia, following a transitional government instituted by the Accra Peace Accord, and the holding of free, fair and transparent elections in 2005 (CPA 2003). The first post war elections brought Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first African female head of state and government, to power (UNSG Report 2006).


Although, with the support of the international community and bilateral partners, the government endeavors to restore Liberia to its pre-war status, efforts to reconstruct the country, create access to basic services, and reduce poverty are challenged by the huge infrastructure deficit caused by the civil war (UN in Liberia 2013). Liberia’s current poverty rate is 74.6 per cent in rural areas, 47.7 per cent in urban sectors, and 61.5 per cent average at the national level (LISGIS 2008). The estimated cost of reviving the country’s damaged transport, water and energy infrastructure is about 2.5b USD, at a time the country’s current national budget is 557m (MOF 2014). The Country has transitioned from President Sirleaf to President Weah who took office in January 2018.

This case study argues that governments strive to reduce poverty is stagnated by poor infrastructure, which creates limited access to basic social services, and impedes economic growth and development. It is assumed that if the country’s damaged infrastructure-transport, electricity and water systems-is restored, it will increase access to basic services like water, health and education, spur economic growth and might ultimately reduce poverty. The Problem-Oriented Method (Monash University Library nd.) is used to identify and analyze existing infrastructural problems, and suggests plausible solutions to resolve them. This case study is limited to the impact of poor transportation, and the lack of electricity and pipe born water on poverty reduction in Liberia. It concludes that the government needs to either use one or a combination of three options: the unbalanced growth and big push concepts or borrow low interest rate loans to address its infrastructural deficit. However, the government of Liberia needs to explain more to its citizens on the terms and conditions of whatever option it would prefer.

II. Problem definition
Moteff et al. (2004) define infrastructure as ‘basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a society’ (p. 1). Without the basic infrastructure, a given society will not function properly. All developed countries have basic infrastructure in place. Most developing countries that have made significant gains in growth and development have also invested in basic infrastructure as a fulcrum for growth and development. Prior to the civil war, Liberia experienced economic growth. Majority of the population had access to good transport system, electricity, pipe born water, and quality health and education systems. These facilities and services were destroyed by the war. Therefore, Liberia is amongst the 104 states categorized under the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), where about 1.56b people live in multidimensional poverty (HDR 2013). It is part of the states with the highest percentages of MPI, ranking 84 per cent behind Ethiopia with 87 per cent, and leading Mozambique and Sierra Leone with 79 per cent, and 77 per cent respectively (HDI 2013). Despite this alarming poverty picture, the HDI (2013) labels Liberia as one of fourteen countries that have recorded human development gains of more than two per cent annually since 2000. Most of the low HDI states fall in Africa, where many are emerging from long periods of civil conflicts. Despite this steady progress towards recovery, poverty is widespread and majority of the citizens lack access to basic services in these countries.

III. Poor infrastructure as a challenge to poverty reduction
a. Poor transport system
Good transport system is the lynchpin in all developed countries. Developing countries need to therefore improve their transport systems to increase access to basic services, and spur economic growth and development, thereby reducing poverty (Moteff et al. 2004). However, Liberia’s transport system is poor. Major roads linking rural parts of the country are in a deplorable state. About 51.3 per cent of rural inhabitants are gravely affected by the lack of roads (MPW 2013). According to the Liberia Prioritized Infrastructure Development Programme (2012), about USD 1.2b is required to connect Liberia’s 15 counties capitals (p. 14). The poor transport system hinders access to basic services like schools and health. For instance, health indicators show that mortality rate in rural areas is 84 per every 1000 births compared to urban areas where mortality stands at 68 per every 1000 births. Also, maternal mortality is estimated at 994 per 100,000, and under age five mortality is 110 per 1000 births (LDHS 2007; UN One Programme 2013). Most of these maternal and under five mortality rates occur in the rural communities where health facilities and personnel are scarce due to limited access.

Like the health sector, access to quality education is hampered by poor transport system. For example, the Liberia Education Sector Plan (2009) calls for compulsory nine-year basic education, comprising six years of government funded free primary, and three years of junior secondary education completion. Despite this laudable education initiative, majority of rural residents and the urban poor cannot send their children to school due to limited public schools, and the lack of adequate trained teachers in the few existing facilities (UNICEF Liberia 2013). Most Liberian schools are operated by religious institutions or private individuals whose objective is to maximize profit. The current net enrolment in primary school stands at 34 per cent, and grade six completion rate in the entire country is 35 per cent (UN in Liberia 2013). This implies that about 65 per cent of the children in the country are out of school. Amongst these are children who enroll, but dropout due to lack of uniforms, fees, tuition and other basic education materials.

Besides road transport, sea transport is also affected by the war. The Liberian port industry is administered and operated by the National Port Authority (NPA) in keeping with its statutory responsibilities to plan, manage and develop public seaports in Liberia. The Authority manages four ports, namely, the Freeport of Monrovia, the Port of Buchanan, the Port of Greenville, and the Port of Harper (NPA Master Plan 2014). All these ports were destroyed during the civil conflict. The Freeport of Monrovia is the largest and most important of Liberia’s four ports. It currently services more than 65 per cent of international trade, followed by the Port of Buchanan, which presently handles 30 per cent of trade (NPA Annual Report 2013). The ports’ infrastructure are being rehabilitated, but this requires significant capital investment. A total of USD 99m is required to rehabilitate all four ports (NPA 2013). Limited operation of these sea ports undermines sea transport and international trade.
Poor transport system does not only impeded access to health and education services. It also undermines economic recovery, growth and development in post conflict Liberia by placing constraints on the movement of goods and services (Ministry of Commerce and Industry 2014). The rural residents in the country live mostly on subsistence farming, and some produce cash crops for trade and commerce. Farmers, 75 per cent of the total population, produce goods for consumption and trade their surplus to get necessities unavailable locally (Ministry of Agriculture 2013). Due to the absence of farm to market roads, these rural farmers cannot easily transport goods and services from villages and towns to markets. Most of the goods therefore get spoilt due to the lack of preservation facilities. This hinders increased productivity. The urban poor, for their part, live in slum communities where they are entrapped in hunger, poverty and disease as cheaper food products cannot be found on the local markets. Presently, Liberians living below one USD a day are about 63 per cent, and the population living in extreme poverty stands at 47.9 per cent (LISGIS 2007). Rice, Liberia’s staple food, is mainly imported from Asia, and costs USD 50 for 50kg on the local market. Majority of the poor therefore cannot afford to feed themselves and families.
b. Lack of safe drinking water
The limited access to safe drinking water is the second problem faced by residents in Liberia (LWSC 2014). Access to piped water fell from 15 per cent of the population in 1986 to less than three per cent in 2008 (LISGIS 2008). Project Liberia (2013) indicates that one in four Liberians has access to safe drinking water. Despite the low record of water and sanitation deliverables under Liberia’s reconstruction process, there are some positive outcomes showing improvement. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW 2011, p. 6-7 citied in IMF 2012 Liberia Country Report) indicates that the share of households with access to clean water increased from 67 to 75 per cent between 2007 and 2009. However, wide disparities exist between urban and rural households. Clean and safe drinking water is mostly obtained from hand pumps and bold holds. Access to sanitary toilet facilities rose from 39 per cent to 50 per cent nationwide, with improvement in rural as well as urban areas (CWIQ 2010, p.120-1 cited in IMF 2012 Country Report). Despite these improvements, the WHO Country Office in Liberia (2013) reports that half of all Liberians lack access to toilet facilities; hence they either defecate up streams and in open areas. It further informs that outbreaks of water borne diseases, like cholera, occur regularly, and that as many as one in five deaths in Liberia are blamed on water and sanitation problems.

c. Lack of Electricity
The lack of electricity is the third challenge that undermines government’s effort to reduce poverty (GOL 2013). Liberia has limited energy output. For example, the prewar 170-megawatt power generation capacity and national grid were destroyed during the civil war; hence a little over 0.1 per cent of households has access to public electricity (LISGIS 2008). This power generation capacity is obtained from diesel generators that produce a little more than two megawatts per million people. It costs USD 0.77 to generate one per kilowatt hour electricity (LEC 2012). This cost is exceptionally high (AICD Diagnostic Report 2010). Power tariff of 0.63 per kilowatt hour is about three times the average for Africa, which is very high by global standards (MLME 2013). Rehabilitation of the country’s singular dam, the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, is estimated at USD 207m (MOF 2012). However, due to the lack of resources, government has been unable to refurbish the dam since the cessation of the civil conflict. Notwithstanding, the European Central Bank (ECB), Germany and Norway have provided grants of USD 65m, 32m and 75m respectively in 2013. The government has committed USD 45m to compliment the grants, and carry out the reconstruction of the dam, which is expected to be completed by December 2015 (MOF 2014).

The lack of electricity affects the operation of concessionaires and the overall national productive capacity of Liberia. The country has attracted over 16 billion USD in foreign direct investment (Liberia NIC 2014). The FDI is intended to restore Liberia’s economy to its pre-war status, and set the stage for economic growth and development. The investment attempts to also increase employment directly and indirectly. The anticipated employment will boost households’ income, and foster other economic opportunities through private sector development. Unfortunately, due to the lack of electricity, majority of the concessionaires have not begun full scale operations to yield the needed resources and employment envisaged in the concession agreements. Concessions that are currently operational in the country face enormous transaction costs due to lack of electricity. Delayed operation retard anticipated employment of some part of the labor force (see annex 1 for expected employment), and the resulting unemployment, mainly amongst the country’s growing young population, increases socio-political tensions (UNSRSG Report 2013). These tensions have become a key security concern because demonstrations, riots and political agitation amongst young people could undermine the fragile peace and relapse the country into another round of civil conflict (President Sirleaf State of Nation Address 2014).

IV. The way forward
Even though the challenges discussed above persist, the government is committed to rebuilding the country, grow its economy and ultimately reduce poverty. It has implemented poverty reduction strategy (PRS) one and two between 2006 and 2012 (IMF Country Report 2013), and aspires to make Liberia a middle-income country by 2030 (Liberia Rising Vision 2030 2013). This vision was set to be achieved in the 1980s, when the country was one of the highest income countries in Africa. In the 1960s, Liberia was on par with Japan’s GDP, though the country grew without development (Clower 1966). The country is presently one of 35 low-income countries (LICs) in the world, and one of 26 Sub-Saharan African poor countries (World Bank Report 2010). One key factor challenging this ambitious aspiration of becoming a middle-income country is the huge infrastructure deficit. Hence, the government needs to use either the unbalanced growth concept, the big push philosophy (Hirschman 1958, Kirschna et al. 2005, & Rosenstein-Roden 1943) or low interest loan option to invest in infrastructural development. This might salvage the poor infrastructural challenge, restore basic services, and eventually reduce poverty.

a. The unbalanced growth concept
Due to the lack of resources in the less developed countries, there is need for the government of Liberia to use the unbalanced growth theory, whereby it could create imbalances in the system as the best strategy for growth (Hirschman 1958). This means that the little available funding should be used efficiently in strategic sectors (transport, electricity and water) that might lead to a rippling effect in the economy. Investment should be made in these projects because they have the greatest total number of linkages to induce growth and industrialization, and lead to poverty reduction (Krishna et al 2005). Although the strategic investment of resources in infrastructure seem the best model, substantive investment in this sector is difficult to achieve due to the lack of financial resources. For instance, Liberia’s real GDP is USD 1233; its GDP per capital is USD 328, and the present growth rate is 8.5 per cent (MOF 2014). Despite this impressive growth rate, the country has consecutively experienced budget deficits in three years. Therefore, reliance on this option as the singular approach to addressing the infrastructural deficit might not yield the desired results.

b. The big push concept
Giving the lack of adequate national resources to mitigate Liberia’s infrastructural deficit, the government should consider the ‘big push’ option (Rosenstein-Roden’s 1957). The idea behind the big push theory is that a country cannot do anything until it can do everything. Outlined by Paul Rosenstein-Rodan (1957), this theory argues that even the simplest activity requires a network of other activities and that individual firms cannot organize such a large network, so the state or some other giant agency must step in. With this background, it might be impossible for the government alone, given its current financial status, to restore the country’s damaged infrastructure. Also, private investors will not maximize the desired profits amidst the infrastructure challenge, yet they do not want to risk their capital in public infrastructural. That infrastructure and social services are considered public goods (Gans et al. 2013), private consider investment in such public facilities a government’s responsibility. However, as some ground speed is required for the aircraft to airborne, certain critical amount of resources need to be allocated for development activities in Liberia. Therefore, the government, private investor and donors’ need to invest in the restoration of transportation, water and energy resources. Concessions could invest some of part of their expected royalties to government in the infrastructural sector. Because no piecemeal allocation in an economy can move on the path of economic development, investment in social overhead capitol is necessary for economic development. With economic growth and development, government can allocate more resources to basic social services, and reduce poverty (Haynes 2008).

c. Low interest loans
Borrowing of loans is the third option available to the government to mitigate its infrastructural shortfall. Loans could be taken from the World Bank and IMF, and friendly governments to undertake the needed infrastructural projects in the transport, water and electricity sectors. However, the WB and IMF may not be disposed to giving loans to Liberia because they and other partners waived USD 4b debt in 2010 (IMF 2010), and placed a moratorium on the country’s borrowing. However, other bilateral partners could lend Liberia interest free loan that might enable the government to develop its national infrastructure, which is very critical to the overall economic growth and the improvement of the people’s lives. One of such avenues for interest free or low interest loans is the China-Africa loan facility (FOCAC 2012). In 2006, China’s grant assistance, interest free and preferential loans to Africa increased astronomically. In addition, since 2009, China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner. In 2013, trade between China and Africa reached USD 210b, unmatched by previous times (Xinhua Global Times 2014). China has expanded cooperation in investment and financing by providing USD 20b of credit line to African countries (FOCAC 2012). Specifically, the China Union has invested USD 2.6b in the Iron Ore mining sector in Liberia (NIC 2012). Liberia supports the ‘One China Policy’. The government should therefore take advantage of the cordial bilateral relationship and get Chinese low interest rate loan to fund part of its infrastructural projects.

Additionally, the Liberian government could utilize the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) process to fund part of its infrastructural projects. The TICAD underscores South-South cooperation, and promotes the development of trade and investment between Asia and Africa (TICAD V Report 2013). It recognizes that infrastructure development, including road networks, energy, and access to safe drinking water, is critical to economic integration, trade and investment promotion, and poverty reduction in Africa. Therefore, the Medium to Long Term Strategic Framework (MLTSF) of the TICAD process forms the basis for a coherent strategic approach to the development of infrastructure in Africa. Giving the strong bilateral relationship between Liberia and Japan, the government could also lobby for more funding to complement other funding modalities, and address its infrastructural challenges.

d. President Weah’s Asian Deal
President George Weah was inaugurated as Liberia’s President in January 2018. IN less than three months, his first move to salvage the bad road situation in Southeastern Liberia landed his government delegation in Asia where a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed for a loan amounting to $536m US. This is not a gift as it is being insinuated by some loyalist of the government. This is a loan to be ratified by the Liberian Legislature. What are the terms and conditions of this loan? Who will manage it and how will it be managed? That the government is ‘broke’, how certain are we that the loan will be used for its intended purpose if ratified? By taking over half billion USD loan, are we not compromising standard operating procedures of our traditional partners, the World Bank, IMF, IFC, the African Development Bank, et al.?
Given the foregoing concerns, it is important to do due diligence so that what appears to be a very good move would not pull Liberia into a debt trap that could deny the country future grants and interest-free or low interest loan schemes. While the improvement of Liberia’s infrastructure is significant to economic growth and development, borrowing must be done to directly address the infrastructural challenges, not to fill the pockets of public officials and leave future generations in perpetual national and global indebtedness.
V. Conclusion
This paper argues that poor infrastructure inhibits economic growth, hinders access to basic social services, and undermines government efforts to reduce poverty in post-conflict Liberia. It points out that prior to the 14 years civil war, Liberia experienced economic growth, and the residents had increased access to basic services. It is therefore plausible that if the country restores good infrastructure (transport, electricity and water systems), it might experience economic growth and development as was in the pre-war status. This might increase access to social services and ultimately reduce poverty.

To achieve this, the Liberian government needs to either use one or a combination of three options to address its infrastructural deficit. First, it could utilize the unbalanced growth concept by investing its limited resources in the infrastructural sector as a driver to spur economic growth and development. Second, the government could engage in a joint government, private sector and donor partnership to address the infrastructure challenge and restore basic social services through a ‘big push’ option. Last, it could borrow interest free or low interest rate loans under the China Africa Partnership loan facility, and from the TICAD arrangement to fund some of the country’s infrastructural projects.

To better coordinate this process and ensure implementation success, the government needs to constitute an inter-ministerial or inter-agency coordinating task force that will adopt the appropriate methodology, and coordinate stake holders in addressing the country’s protracted infrastructure dearth. However, these options must be taken with extreme caution so that loans and grants are not accepted and corrupted by public officials thereby leaving the intended development projects unattended, and plunging the country into expanded debt.

About the Author
Thomas Kaydor served as Liberia’s Lead Negotiator at the Eight Rounds of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda at the UN in New York. Tom is a Professor at the IBB Graduate School of International Studies where he lectures Public Policy, Quantitative Political Analysis, Political Theory, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, et al. He holds Master of Public Policy (Distinction) specialized in Development Policy from the Australian National University; Master of Arts (Highest Distinction) in International Relations, and Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science, University of Liberia. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomacy and Negotiation from the Islamabad Foreign Service Academy, Pakistan; and several professional certificates including PRINCE II and other awards. He is a published author, a Development Specialist, Diplomat and Political Scientist. He formerly served as Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Integration, and Assistant Foreign Minister for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Republic of Liberia. He served the UN as UN Coordination Analyst, UNDP Liberia, and UN Common Services Adviser, Ethiopia. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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PRO-POOR AGENDA: NEW TASKS OF RURAL ECONOMIC REFORM IN LIBERIA

Just as it is necessary to revise ideas about Liberians so also is it necessary to reappraise the duties which the government performs. The panorama of Liberia is moving fast. The aspirations of the Liberian people have changed. Economically, the reformers among the CDC Leadership want more enlightenment, better health, good education, higher levels of living and uncompromised justice for the poor families.


The meaning of all this is that ordinary Liberians are becoming more and more concerned about their material welfare. Regrettably, a majority of politicians in our country enter public service for the primary goal of getting rich at the detriment and expense of the poor. This poses significant challenges for rural economic reform in Liberia. What the CDC Government does therefore must reflect, and be in keeping with this new trend otherwise time, effort and money will be sunk in schemes which poor families won’t look at.

Among the fundamental and, or basic things which government can do to that end are the following: The training and promotion of subsistence farmers and entrepreneurial activities among the less privileged sections of the community; launching community development projects for women and youth empowerment; Raising living standards so that majority of rural families can enjoy a better intellectual and cultural life; reduction of inequalities in incomes, wealth and economic power between the “have and have-not”. Enforcement of better conditions of work in the public and private sectors and the principle of equal pay for equal work for both Liberians and non-Liberians, men as well as women; maintenance of stable prices throughout the entire country; promotion of a sense of purpose and participation among grass root communities; and among other most important economic objectives of rural economic reform.
The need to train subsistence farmers and businessmen arises from the realization that the key to higher standards of living in the initial stages of economic development is greater productivity in the agricultural sector and that lasting and sustainable economic development requires that Liberian farmers should be brought into the orbit of an exchange economy not only as laborers, but also as entrepreneurs. Past governments emphases have been on the training of field Assistants to take up jobs in the agricultural sectors. As for businessmen, there have not been any national facilities and equipped institution(s) at all for their training in entrepreneurship. What is most required now, if national incomes are to increase, it is the training of farmers and entrepreneurs as both employees and employers.

The objective should be to train men, youth and women who will go in the rural areas and establish themselves as independent modern farmers and retails businessmen, participate in commerce and trade, and establish small-scale industries. In this task, religious organizations can play a vital role in the training process. Most of them have educational institutions which could be expanded or reorganized to include such training facilities. And it is most probably that government would subsidize such schemes.
The idea of community development grew from the somber observation that contemporary scientific and technological advances which had done much to improve the material welfare of urban population, had scarcely affected the lives of rural population. Community development is a challenging, exciting new concept in Liberia. This concept should capture the imagination of the youths, nurses, teachers, social workers, agriculturists, architects carpenters, engineers, and whatever their professional field or career. Community development as a concept is a process designed to create conditions of economic and social program for the whole community with its active participation and the fullest possible reliance upon the community’s initiative. However, those organizations and institutions who feel strongly on community development and take keen interest in this kind of work must expect to work in co-operation with the government. This co-operation must be welcomed as it might prove to be one of the most effective means of building mutual confidence between the stakeholders and the less privileged sections of the community.
Rising living standards in effect means raising the incomes of those people who are already in employment and bringing employment to the under-employed and under paid. These in turn mean building a modern economic infrastructure, modernizing agriculture, industrializing the economy and developing mineral resources with value addition. Economic infrastructure entails the underlying amount of physical and financial capital embodied in roads, railways, waterways, airways and other forms of transportation and communication plus water supplies, financial institutions, electricity and public services such as health and education. We are all quite aware that the level of infrastructural development in a country is a crucial factor determining the peace, reconciliation and diversity of economic development.

Reduction of inequalities in incomes, wealth and economic power between the have and have ¬¬¬- not requires various measures. Inequalities in incomes can be reduced by effective fiscal measures, especially accountability of government spending, fighting unemployment and inflation and access to credit for subsistence farm families (without reducing the incentive to work and save) to level off the income scale and economic development efforts designed to increase the income of those persons who are at the lower end of the scale. Disparities in wealth and economic power can be reduced by the co-operative form of ownership.
Enforcement of equitable conditions of work involves passing humane factory laws that will prevent bad labor practices; strengthening the trade union movements by appropriate legislation (without prejudicing economic development objectives); requiring employers to provide better living conditions for their employees; legislating against industrial color-bar; and enforcing the principle of equal pay for equal work for all regardless of socio-economic class.
Maintenance of stable prices demands that government should take the necessary measures to prevent and to check current inflationary pressure so that the rise in the real incomes of the low-income families is not swallowed up in rising prices.
Furthermore, promotion of a sense of purpose and participation among the poor families requires: Popular nationalistic leadership dedicated to economic and social modernization; a mass nationalist community development programs in each of the fifteen counties; and initiation of youth-based community development projects in which the rural-poor families can participate. To this end, an efficient network of dialectal media of mass communication through which to pass pro-poor information, messages, and news to the grass root families is absolutely essential.
In addition to the above economic objectives, the pro-poor agenda must also address itself to some basic social challenges. There are two types of social challenges; those which relate to rural populations and those which follow in the wake of industrialization and urbanization. The latter type includes prostitution and concubine, the instability of most marriages, juvenile delinquency, and appalling living conditions. The former type refers mainly to the negative effect of introducing an exchange economy in subsistence economy and challenges brought about by the migration of rural poor families to industrial areas. Here again, those who feel strongly on rural development and take keen interest in pro-poor rural economic reform must co-operate with government. Indeed, the new tasks of rural economic reform are such that collaboration of all stakeholders is inevitable. Remember, no challenge can be solved unless its causes are known. So, one of the first tasks of those who would tackle the above socio –economic challenges is to analyze the challenges carefully in order to determine their causes in more precise terms.

Once the causes and effects are known, the task of removing and dealing with them in the reform process is not only relatively easy but also quite engaging. Co-operation with the government, as pointed out earlier, is absolutely essential, as a matter of fact, there are causes such as the un-necessary imbalance and disparity between low-income and high-income families, which can be gradually removed only by government policy actions. In the face of Liberia’s continue poverty and decades of wasted potential for progress, it should be one of the duties of civil society organizations, the media and the general public to call upon the government to take necessary and practical action and remain committed for the attainment of the pro-poor agenda, economically. Hopefully, such commitment will take greater root in our current politics than concern for the success of our leaders’ wallets.


TOM NIMELY CHIE is Associate Professor at the Cuttington University & Professional Studies, Monrovia-Liberia. He can be reached at
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile Contact: +231-886-569-200

“IMF SUPPORTS ROAD EXPANSION, OTHERS GOVERNMENT NEEDS MORE BORROWING”

But, the recent meeting held in Monrovia, by finance/economic professional officials of our Government and officials of the US International Monetary Fund (IMF), revealed the critical nature of the Liberian economy already gone to the great beyond, but transmits negative impact through the foreign exchange rate felt by unaffordable prices of food and healthcare drugs.


Apparently, the crux of the matter Economy Liberia is or has been the lack and/or willful disregard of the application of traditional micro/macroeconomic analysis for robust fiscal & monetary policy.

While President George Weah is seeking external financing (by loans or borrowing) in the tone of half billion US dollars for his “pro-poor road expansion agenda” with press reports for Liberian public information that the great “IMF supports Road Expansion”, the President’s Minister of Finance & Development Planning is rejoicing, preaching economic justification that “Government needs more borrowing”, although the IMF advised “care, caution” and “pay your debts” (High lights mine).

At the end of the assessment of the nation’s economy and discussions, according to the New Democrat newspaper (New Democrat, March 23, 2018), the IMF, through its team leader, Mr. Mika Saita, told the Liberian People through the Press that:

a) “Liberia’s debt level is on the increase and that resource mobilization from external borrowing, domestic revenue generation and Aid are declining simultaneously. Borrowing space has clearly been reduced”;

b) “Looking forward, future obligations will need to be undertaken with caution, especially, with respect to securing terms and conditions; the IMF advised the Weah Administration ‘to pay all its domestic arears’ which the government owes various businesses, institutions and vendors”;

c) “Utilizing realistic revenue estimates for budget formulation and improving the monitoring of all expenditures, including grant- and loan-financed projects, government could, in addition, usefully consider adopting a comprehensive program to clear domestic arears and prevent the emergence of new ones”;
d) “In recent years, government has done little in relation to settling financial obligations to local businesses and institutions, thus contributing to decline in economic activities; for example, the Sirleaf Government departed without paying an estimated US $20 million owed local companies, Prestige & Alliance Motors, despite reaching settlement agreement in June, 2017. The companies represent American and German car dealers in Liberia”.

The assessment of the nation’s economy revealed, also, that Liberia’s domestic and external debt stock has been increased, alarmingly, during the past 12-year administration. In a letter dated March 2016, the-then President Sirleaf informed the Liberian Senate about the alarming domestic and international debts which have accrued under her administration, “pleading for immediate action that would rescue the country’s economy”.

In that March, 2016 letter, President Sirleaf wrote and told the Senate that, “On September 16, 2010, Liberia (Republic of Liberia) reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) completion point which facilitated the cancellation of 96% of the US $4.9 billion external debt accumulated by Liberia . . . over two decades. Nevertheless, certain loans on the debt schedule did not qualify for cancellation. This comprised sixteen (16) loans valued at US $415 million of which US $156 million represented . . . external debt and US $259.3 million . . . for validated . . . domestic debt . . . owed to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) as Government of Liberia’s capitalization of the Bank”.

“As of December, 2015, a total of (32) thirty-two (new) loans amounting to US $802 million have been contracted of which twenty-six (26) represented loans . . . from external creditors with a value of US $792 million and six (6) . . . from domestic creditors at a value of US $10 million”.

“To date, a total of US $315 million of the external debt and the US $10 million domestic debt have been disbursed, leaving the balance of US $ 477 million in external debt”.

Accordingly, the Republic’s external and domestic debt portfolio stands as follows:

Debt Amount Total

Local CBL Capitalization US $259. 3 Million
Alliance & Prestige Motors 20. 0 Million US $279.3 Million

External US $477. 0 Million US $756.3 Million

(Three quarters of a billion US dollars)

In the light of the daunting conditions of our economy, President Weah will do well to look inward for capital to invest in national roads/highways construction, the assured, guaranteed enormous return-on-investment with zero risk of loss.

Rather than contract debt of about US half billion dollars at enormous, astronomical cost, where such contract is available, we suggest/recommend local capital formation approach as follows:

Reductions

a) Salaries of Public officials
The salary levels of government officials, including the President, Vice President, Members of the Legislature, the Judiciary and of managements and sub-management ranks are inflated, not consistent with nor related to a poor, developing nation that Liberia is and, therefore, must be reduced by more than 45%.

b) Allowances
Have been and are profoundly abused and the major source of corruption in government.

1. Vehicle purchase and assignment must be at lowest cost levels; no more top-of-the-line purchases and no depreciation sale of government vehicles to officials.

2. Electricity power Generators assignment must be discontinued.

3. LEC, named as such, must provide electricity for all government offices, the city of Monrovia and environs with payment for service or corporate management will be removed.

4. The same condition applies to the LWSC. These organizations are extremely none-productive.

5. Travel allowances for domestic and foreign travels will be made available only for proven official business and budgeted to the concerned agency’s budget.

c) Telephone scratch cards
This is one of the biggest corruption schemes in government. There is no information or telephone directory for government offices (police, etc.), emergency medical, commercial and industrial services desired by the public. There is need for efficient landline services at this time in Liberia!!

d) Pay Roll Padding
This has become an established, public dishonest practice in government. Almost all agencies of government are involved in the practice.

e) Ministry of Finance & Development Planning
Makes contributions to none-existent educational entities and, also, to none-existent private entrepreneurs through LBDI Bank and many more. The Ministry is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who work and earn money here, but do not live in Liberia and with families in foreign countries permanently. The Liberia Revenue Authority is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens.

To reduce the cost of government, there is urgent need for comprehensive over-haul of government operations. Money from this policy decision can be used as investment capital for national transport/communications (roads/highways).

National Transport/Communications
Necessary Public investment
This investment assures/guarantees multiple economic development projects (the returns-on-investment).

Indeed, according to Planning/Development Experts, construction of modern, safe, and efficient/effective all-weather roads/highways is the Premier Multiplier Effect for national economic and political development. In fact, it is said to “seek ye first the kingdom of national transport/communications and all others of your development projects shall be added unto you”.

For example, to locate schools, colleges, universities, clinics, hospitals, agricultural and industrial enterprises in remote towns and villages for production of goods & services for local consumption and the export trade, one must, first, get there, expeditiously and safely.

Research information shows that all-weather, modern roads/highways built and established between points A & B attract citizens and businesses who relocate along the new roads/highways. They buy land and build homes, motels, hotels, restaurants, service stations and rest stops for motorists and travelers.

Thus, effective/efficient, modern transport/communication facilitates not only convenient, affordable mass movement of people, but also, the production, exchange and distribution of goods and services, international trade and commerce and provides enormous opportunities for additional investment and employment of citizens. It is in this respect that Transport/Communications, particularly all-weather roads/highways, constitute the “Premier multiplier effect” in national economic development. Add this condition to the developing, modern information technology (IT), then one has the recipe for success that will drive Liberia into the 21st Century economy.

Modern, twenty-first century systems of transport/communication drive business, which, in turn, drives the economy, which, also, in turn, drives the nation. Therefore, Liberia’s incoming political administration should and must plan and build a national system of all-weather roads and highways - from east to west and north to south - linking all county capitals to each other and all county productive, trade and commerce centers to each other, the county capitals and nation’s political, commercial capital city of Monrovia.

Finally, since the Liberian Government is the largest employer-business, it must seek to generate income (revenue) from operations. Therefore, it is about time that government invests 50% in revenue-generating enterprises, not only to pay salaries!!

Looking back at President Sirleaf’s Legacy (2006-2012)

Besides the peace and stability Liberians enjoyed under the 12 years of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, one of the major gains that Liberians and the country’s bilateral partners will continue to remember is the speed with which she was able to secure the country’s debt relief under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.


Before her ascendency to power in January, 2006, Liberia was indebted to creditors both bilateral and multilateral to the tune of US$4.6 billion. 

The HIPC Initiative was launched in 1996, by the World Bank and IMF to create a framework in which all creditors, including multilateral creditors, can provide debt relief to the world's poorest and most heavily indebted countries to ensure debt sustainability, and thereby reduce the constraints on economic growth and poverty reduction imposed by the unsustainable debt-service burdens in these countries, Liberia included.

By June 29, 2010, the same date Liberia reached its decision point; about 36 countries including Liberia had reached the completion point. In addition to the World Bank and IMF’s move to launch the HIPC initiative in 1996, Multilaterals in 2005 also created the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).

The move is to reduce further the debt of eligible low-income countries and provide additional resources to help them reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Under the MDRI, three multilateral institutions—the World Bank’s IDA, the IMF and the African Development Fund—provide 100 percent debt relief on eligible debts to qualifying countries normally at the time they reach the HIPC Initiative completion point.

So it is un-debatable that former President Sirleaf did not only inherit a broken economy, but she also inherited a huge pile of debt accrued under previous administrations to the tune of US$4.6 billion.

By the third year of her Presidency, President Sirleaf had moved swiftly and Liberia became the 29th country to reach the completion point under the HIPC Initiative. The completion point marked the end of the HIPC process, which started in 2008 when the Executive Boards of the IMF and the World Bank agreed that Liberia had met requirements for reaching the decision point, when countries start receiving debt relief on an interim basis.

Thus on June 29, 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) announced that they have decided to support US$4.6 billion of debt relief for Liberia, of which US$1.5 billion was delivered by multilateral creditors and the remainder by bilateral and commercial creditors

After reaching the HIPC completion point, Liberia also became eligible for further nominal debt reduction from IDA (US$66.9 million) and the African Development Bank (US$17.2 million) under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and beyond-HIPC assistance from the IMF (SDR117.4 million or US$173 million) and the EU Special Debt Relief Initiative (US$0.9 million).

The completion of the HIPC initiative and subsequent announcement by the Briton Woods institutions to support Liberia’s debt relief program and the eligibility of Liberia for normal debts saw the constructions of several road networks and bridges.

The collapse of the old bridge and its reconstruction by the Chinese Company Chico, saw how resilient the former President was in ensuring that Liberia was once again ready to do business with its international partners this time in a more responsible way. To be continued next Wednesday.

By Othello B. Garblah

Can President Weah defeat corruption in Liberia?

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in the country either the African continent or its huge populations, it has been eating up every sphere of the Liberian society especially corruption prone sectors of government including the private sector.


But how can President George Weah's administration approach the new fight againat corruption to bring the perpetrators to book? Will the government institute strong actions and severely punished the brains behind the practice?

Nowadays the fight against widespread corruption must not be a mere policy; it require a decisive action by President Weah in order to signal to all state officials and others that the CDC led-government is not taking the fight against corruption as a mere joke. President Weah without fears or favor must set an example on public officials caught in corrupt practics.

This unethical practice has grown even larger to the extent it is not only hampering development and growth in Liberia but it is also hunting men and women of honesty and integrity who have made it their lifetime duty to blow loud whistles against it.
In most instances they are often fall victims in the hands of political bureaucracies, foreign capitalists and authoritarian officials whose usually benefit from the tumultuous and rigid system, thus leaving the bulk of the impoverished Liberian population to survive on diurnal hopes.

Presently Africa has come to be a major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving an attention that Africa receives from state actors on the global stage in the context of international politics, the idea of an African rebirth seems to be finding more and more acceptance within the contemporary global politics due to its rich oil but had this new love for Africa developed by Beijing and Washington nowadays produces any benefits for the continent’s larger impoverished inhabitants and eliminate the curse of rampant corruption and bad governance?

Liberia is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but widespread corruption and abuse of resources and bad governance are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings, deaths and the vicious circle of an endlessness hardship from one county to the another in the country.

The nation's riches high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to use; but most Liberians are seeing little benefit from this influx of investment; in fact they are often hurt by poor policy nowadays.

Nowadays, bad leadership and rampant corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than United States One dollar a day. The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power.

“This might sound ridiculous”, but it is a glimpsing fact that resources curse can be avoidable and turn into fruitful and praiseworthy blessings; but the saddest nightmare always plagues dozen of rich African states including Liberia that mismanaged their resources that generate most needed wealth; since resource often in many instances fostered corruption, benefits and profoundly serves foreign capitalists and corrupt leaders’ deep-seated interests to the displeasure of the largest society, thereby restricting bulk of the population to abject poor and inhumane sufferings.

For instance, in many of Africa’s most oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Southern Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, oil, instead of being a blessing for the population, it becomes curse and produces corruption as an endemic debacle. Oil discovery in Africa automatically leads to corruption menace which gives birth to doom and gloom-driven poverty.

Unlike other continents, in Africa corruption is being fought or dealt with through rhetoric-with judges and law enforcement personnel being opened to bribery to compromise cases, even when there is a strong and visible evidence and fact; this fight on the continent doesn’t come with sincerity, commitment and loyalty.

Corruption appears to be the daily practice across majority of the African countries as it widely carry out and visible in the system, it is also eating up the fabric of other sectors including political institutions, schools, civil society organizations, Banks, the media, police, national and international NGOs, commercial drivers, business sector, sporting groups, churches and mosques, and banking institutions.

In some continents the situation is to the contrary, oil is a blessing and not a curse, it removes the people from poverty to better their livelihoods; let’s look at the case of North America that produces more oil than Africa, has the lowest resource rents as a share of GDP and has good governance ratings.

According to US Department of Energy, Canada as one of the top ten world oil producers, has one of the least corrupt governments in the world, on the other hand, Norway is one of the top ten exporters of crude oil in the world, while maintaining its stature as a perennial leader of the United Nations Human Development Index.

From the 1950s to 2000s, Africa has experienced lots of assassinations either by coups d’etat or by civil naughty including political detentions, thus depriving Africa of the men and women who would perhaps have built a better future. Each assassination, each coup d’etat, each civil disobedient and each political exile dealt a blow to Africa. All these ugly activities are direct results of bad governances perhaps under the influences of foreign capitalists to plunge the continent into perpetual crises to enable the foreign powers indirectly loot Africa rich oil and other riches.

Africa is perceived mainly by the West as insignificance, but the continent’s oil and gas are among the few outstanding exceptions to the perceived insignificance of Africa by the West and other foreign capitalists. The United States will soon depend on Africa for a quarter of its total crude oil imports, and Africa already accounts for more than a quarter of China’s oil imports today.

In the words of the former chief executive of BP John Browne, unless geologists succeed in finding new and so far unidentified provinces, as consumers, we will all be dependent on supplies from just three areas — West Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

Dozens of research findings point to the fast that the People’s Republic of China and United States’ interests in Africa are complex, and many issues such as terrorism are high on the agenda. Africa is littered with fragile states. Upcoming and existing oil-producing countries in Africa have been marred by coup attempts and poverty.

In addition, the failure to share the revenues generated by natural resources such as oil in an equitable manner has created disenchanted and disillusioned within the young populations, which have provided a fertile ground for crisis and a haven for rebellions as evident of the ‘Arab Spring’, which rapidly propelled the destruction and demised of many leaders.
Accordingly, crude oil is one of the world’s most important strategic resources, and Africa has attracted a lot of attention among corporate and political decision-makers because of growing global oil demand.

Indeed, it has been suggested that Africa is experiencing a ‘New diplomatic race; thanks primarily to its oil and gas wealth, with the United States and the People’s Republic of China actively competing for access to Africa’s resources. China is currently Africa’s third most important trading partner, ahead of the United Kingdom and behind the United States and France.

In a world where both developed and developing countries require huge quantities of oil resources, Africa has once again become strategic for major actors in the international system. Strategic considerations related to Africa are, of course, influenced by global processes and rivalries, with China’s great power status having recently received particular attention.

China’s new style of diplomacy and its foreign policy principle of “non-interference” but one China policy have been characterized as sensitive to local conditions in Africa rather than imposing standards, as the case of the United States which imposes conditions such as human right, political and economic performance criteria for its foreign investment, aid assistance and support towards projects in Africa.

Unlike in other region like Latin America and Europe where the United States maintains political influence, China on the other hand maintains robust economic influence in Africa. The United States finds it difficult to outweigh China in its financial aid to African due to Beijing new “checkbook diplomacy” and aid to African governments and institutions, although the U.S. militarily out-spent China

In contrast and comparison, this subject looks at Washington and Beijing growing impact on the African continent in the context of influence and support to the continent. While it is difficult to draw out a definite conclusion, empirically China is posing greater threat to the U.S. influence in Africa, except for other regions such as the Latin America, Asia and Middle East where U.S. commends greater respect.
China and the United States use tools of soft power in different ways and with varying effects. Since the mid-1990s, the PRC has adopted an increasingly active and pragmatic diplomatic approach in Africa that emphasizes complementary economic interests.

China’s influence and image have been bolstered through its increasingly open and sophisticated diplomatic corps as well as through prominent PRC-funded infrastructure, public works, and economic investment projects in many African countries; Beijing have diplomatic mission in 49 African countries.
The U.S. international public image is gradually declining on the continent perhaps due to its foreign policies that remain unpopular abroad. The U.S. government has persistently criticized U.S. state diplomacy as being neglectful of smaller countries or of countries and regional issues that are not related to the global war on terrorism.

The United States continues to exert global foreign aid leadership and maintain a major, and much appreciated, aid presence in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. U.S. foreign assistance to Southeast Asia has increased markedly since 2001, although most new funding has been directed at counter-terrorism.

The regions with the largest U.S. public diplomacy efforts in terms of funding are Europe/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Carribean). Likewise, the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program seeks to promote democratic values, mutual understanding, and professional and personal relationships in addition to military capacity.

Many aspects of U.S. social, economic, cultural, academic, technological, and other forms of influence, much of which emanate from the private sector or outside the scope of government, remain unmatched in the world. Many American ideals have long-term, universal appeal, while the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants and foreign students.

Despite a perceived lack of attention among elites, the United States has maintained favorable public image ratings in many African and Latin American countries as well as in the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
The United States and China share the same vital national interests of security and prosperity, although each has a particular additional interest and each defines its interests somewhat differently. Each seeks freedom from fear and want and to preserve its territorial integrity. For the United States, its particular interest lies in value preservation and projection of those values.

China has thus made in-roads into the oil sectors in Nigeria (Africa’s largest oil producer) and Angola (Africa’s second largest producer), which accounts for “13 per cent of China’s crude oil imports”. Other African countries with Chinese oil interests include Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Liberia, Ghana, Southern Sudan and Chad.

US oil interests are locked into major oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, and the “new oil boom states” Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Since most of the oil being discovered is off-shore, it also has the added advantage of being beyond the reach of protesting oil communities on land that are capable of disrupting the oil flow, as had been the case in the restive Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta since the 1990’s (Obi 2006a: 93-94).

It is fair to argue that the African continent has not traditionally been at the centre of United States of America (USA) foreign policy. Historical links between the U.S. and African countries date back centuries, but significant change in both relations has been the growing concern about the hunt for resources and terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

The United States recent re-engaging with the continent indicates that Africa does occupy a central place in US global foreign policy strategy. The US is the world’s largest development aid donor and has programs dedicated to Africa with billions of dollars being spent in various sectors on the continent.

The Sino-African oil relationship can become complex due to other linked areas of concern. Oil, as part of China’s desire to acquire more natural resources, has brought criticism of China’s “neo-colonialist” presence in Africa, and questions whether China’s presence benefits governance and the African people.

China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-four countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011 while most western analysts believe that the main driving force behind China’s investment in Africa is for natural resources and thus focuses on a few resource rich countries.

China is currently the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, and more than half of its crude oil is imported and by 2020, official sources estimate that China will import about 65 percent of its crude oil China’s presence in Africa, According to Shelly Zhao briefing paper April 2011, to secure oil resources has been increasing.

The study of international relations has historically focused on the activities of large, powerful states, dismissing the smaller entities of the international system as unimportant or merely objects of policy for the larger entities. This truism extends especially to those entities that exist in a partially recognized limbo, neither a full part of the international system nor an ungoverned space.

Yet in the post-Cold War world, following the dissolution of large multi-national states such as the USSR, these entities have begun to proliferate, such is the case of Moscow in Ukraine and Syrian’s brutal civil crises.
This proliferation provides a significant challenge to an international system in which the primary participants are states, and to the institutions created to oversee their interaction for world peace. As such the study of these entities and their interaction with the world outside their borders is a study important for a systemic understanding of contemporary international relations.

This new race for Africa’s resources is already engendering conflicts across the region. By analyzing the likely impact on the economies of oil-producing states, it considers whether we should dismay or rejoice over the ‘New Scramble for Africa’. It concludes that the existence of a New Scramble or a US–Chinese race for Africa should be treated with some caution, while the economic impact of oil investments is likely to be bleak.

Both the American and the Chinese Governments were important in paving the way for American and Chinese oil interests in expanding in Africa. The US Government used diplomatic instruments such economic incentives and military aid. China has proven more supportive and has provided loans, debt relief, scholarships, training, and provision of military hardware without political or economic pre-conditions, in exchange for a foothold in the oil business.

In turn, incumbent African leaders have identified Chinese unconditional financial resources, cheap products, and know-how as an important tool to fend off pressure for political and economic reforms from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Western governments. China is the new superstar on the African continent when it comes to new diplomatic ties, trade expansion and investments in large-scale development projects.

This was emphasized at the recent China-Africa summit in Beijing (5th Forum on China and Africa Cooperation held in Beijing in July 2012). While most hailed the new Chinese drive, some fear a new scramble for Africa’s vast natural resources. Widely believed to become the world’s largest economy, China is successfully seeking its place under the African sun. Starting out with pariah nations such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, excellent relations are now held with almost all of Africa’s 54 states.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where copper and diamonds have inspired wars and mayhem, there is currently intense competition and militia rivalries over the mining and sale, a critical raw material used in mobile phones and electronic devices.
The battle over uranium, used in feeding nuclear reactors, continues to be at the root of conflicts in Niger. The connection between conflict and foreign exploitation of mineral resources can be drawn with respect to other countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy, subject to Cold War rivalries, their path to development largely blocked by their debilitating colonial past. More recently, the West has choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) than on health care, education, infrastructure, and other vital services combined.

For African governments, China’s new interest mostly has been a blessing. Diplomatically, their dependence on Western countries is eased, allowing new diplomatic competition as in the Cold War era, and giving pariah leaders an alternative backing. Chinese aid funds are also popular, because Beijing asks no questions on good governance and is fond of prestigious grand projects.

Economically, however, the Chinese advance has come with mixed blessings for Africa. With China’s admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has boomed into an economic superpower of cheap mass produced exports, giving no room for African competition. But Beijing is not only interested in gaining African export markets. The economic superpower is not endowed with many natural resources, making Beijing dependent on mass imports of crude materials.

Most importantly, there is evidence of greater involvement of the United States and China in Africa, in terms of both commercial interests and political engagement. “China’s bilateralism in relation to Africa” could undermine regional and continental institutions as “it replays the colonialist divide and conquer tactics.” Wars need money.

From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Angola to Cambodia, natural resources such as timber, diamonds and minerals have helped fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians. Currently, there is an amazing infrastructure race taking place within East Africa, helping to reduce investment risk within the region. We see East Asian powers providing infrastructure in order to gain a competitive advantage in these regions.
China is taking a very broad approach and accessing the region whole heartily. We are also seeing Japan’s involvement, and the US through Anadarko’s involvement in Mozambique. Infrastructure is being built for mining and mineral interests, and hydrocarbons are taking a secondary spot. This will provide energy companies with an opportunity to wait for infrastructure to develop. This fact increases a company’s incentive to be a little less aggressive in terms of entering and building infrastructure specifically for energy.

Battling to overcome its own created problems such as bad governance, Africa throughout the Cold War until the mid-2000s, played only an insignificant role on the world’s stage in the context of international relations and diplomacy. This is not to say that Africa was irrelevant but the developments of the Cold War somewhat overshadowed the continent on the global stage.

During the Cold War period, most of Africa remained within the spheres of influence of the former colonial powers, which made use of the relative freedom they were given by the Great Powers to materialize their interests in Africa, but with the end of the Cold War, things somehow turned the other way in the interest of the continent.

Africa’s recent advancement on the world’s stage has sparked out neurons calls for the continent to occupy a seat on the Security Council with an equal veto, but the question that arises is which of the three African countries to occupy the dedicated seat ? Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco are all vying and not ready to allow either one of the three to represent Africa if the occasion arises.

The continent in recent time has been re-positioning in the international system as far as international relations and politics are concerned, but greed for power and wealth, and bad governances, are some of the major problems that are affecting the continent.
In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy; most recently, the West and East have choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts. The legacy of Western domination has left Africa devastated with crippling rates of poverty, hunger, and disease. The continent today has a gross national per-capita yearly below that of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in most African countries, and an average life expectancy of only fifty years.

According to UN’s report, eighty-five percent of Africans have no access to standard pipe borne water, good healthcare delivery system, electricity, social security benefits, sanitation facilities and good meals a day. The report further indicates that 25.8 million people of the two-thirds of the total world population suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Africa. Africa remains a continent abundant in human and natural resources, but are managed to enrich only a handful of African leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, certain individuals and foreign capitalists who continue to exploit the continent.
However, this ‘new scramble’ differs in at least two regards from its colonial predecessor.

First, the pool of actors has widened and Europeans are no longer the dominant outside actors in Africa. China, for instance, has emerged as one of the most active players in Second, while African governmental elites currently are key players with considerable bargaining leverage.

More cautionary thinkers who read international politics point to the prevailing poverty and corruption, civil disobedience, bad governance and the weak political parties and institutions in Africa, while other analysts predict the continent will have a promising future. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in between with a 50-50 reality.

Evaluating the continent’s key actors performances on the global stage, many observers see Africa steadily moving towards Beijing, while others regard tales of a successful Sino-African future with suspicion and point to the robustness of US–African ties.

Nowadays more than ever, as Jean-François Bayart wrote rather provocatively a decade ago, the ‘discourse on Africa’s marginality is baloney. The economic, demographic, and political developments on the African continent suggest that Africa is moving away from the periphery of the international system, not without consequences for the traditional international actors in the region.

But farsighted political figures, also agreed that Africa has entered a new phase of history, which is characterized by increased African actors on the world stage, with greater influences.
For instance, a good marker of this change is the greater interest that the continent has received from Asian and other emerging countries and the resulting competition between well-established and new actors on the African continent.
By: Josephus Moses Gray
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The Fight Against Corruption In Liberia Must Be Decisive Not Mere Policy

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in the country either the African continent and its huge populations, it has been eating up every sphere of the Liberian society especially corruption prone sectors of government including the private sector.


But how can President George Weah's administration approach the new fight againat corruption to bring the perpetrators to book? Will the government institute strong actions and severely punished the brains behind the practice?

Nowadays the fight against widespread corruption must not be a mere policy; it require a decisive action by President Weah in order to signal to all state officials and others that the CDC led-government is not taking the fight against corruption as a mere joke. President Weah without fears or favor must set an example on public officials caught in corrupt practics.

This unethical practice has grown even larger to the extent it is not only hampering development and growth in Liberia but it is also hunting men and women of honesty and integrity who have made it their lifetime duty to blow loud whistles against it; in most instances they are often fall victims in the hands of political bureaucracies, foreign capitalists and authoritarian officials whose usually benefit from the tumultuous and rigid system, thus leaving the bulk of the impoverished Liberian population to survive on diurnal hopes.

Presently Africa has come to be a major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving an attention that Africa receives from state actors on the global stage in the context of international politics, the idea of an African rebirth seems to be finding more and more acceptance within the contemporary global politics due to its rich oil but had this new love for Africa developed by Beijing and Washington nowadays produces any benefits for the continent’s larger impoverished inhabitants and eliminate the curse of rampant corruption and bad governance?

Liberia is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but widespread corruption and abuse of resources and bad governance are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings, deaths and the vicious circle of an endlessness hardship from one county to the another in the country.

The nation's riches high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to use; but most Liberians are seeing little benefit from this influx of investment; in fact they are often hurt by poor policy nowadays.

Nowadays, bad leadership and rampant corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than United States One dollar a day. The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power.

“This might sound ridiculous”, but it is a glimpsing fact that resources curse can be avoidable and turn into fruitful and praiseworthy blessings; but the saddest nightmare always plagues dozen of rich African states including Liberia that mismanaged their resources that generate most needed wealth; since resource often in many instances fostered corruption, benefits and profoundly serves foreign capitalists and corrupt leaders’ deep-seated interests to the displeasure of the largest society, thereby restricting bulk of the population to abject poor and inhumane sufferings.

For instance, in many of Africa’s most oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Southern Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, oil, instead of being a blessing for the population, it becomes curse and produces corruption as an endemic debacle. Oil discovery in Africa automatically leads to corruption menace which gives birth to doom and gloom-driven poverty.

Unlike other continents, in Africa corruption is being fought or dealt with through rhetoric-with judges and law enforcement personnel being opened to bribery to compromise cases, even when there is a strong and visible evidence and fact; this fight on the continent doesn’t come with sincerity, commitment and loyalty.

Corruption appears to be the daily practice across majority of the African countries as it widely carry out and visible in the system, it is also eating up the fabric of other sectors including political institutions, schools, civil society organizations, Banks, the media, police, national and international NGOs, commercial drivers, business sector, sporting groups, churches and mosques, and banking institutions.

In some continents the situation is to the contrary, oil is a blessing and not a curse, it removes the people from poverty to better their livelihoods; let’s look at the case of North America that produces more oil than Africa, has the lowest resource rents as a share of GDP and has good governance ratings.

According to US Department of Energy, Canada as one of the top ten world oil producers, has one of the least corrupt governments in the world, on the other hand, Norway is one of the top ten exporters of crude oil in the world, while maintaining its stature as a perennial leader of the United Nations Human Development Index.

From the 1950s to 2000s, Africa has experienced lots of assassinations either by coups d’etat or by civil naughty including political detentions, thus depriving Africa of the men and women who would perhaps have built a better future. Each assassination, each coup d’etat, each civil disobedient and each political exile dealt a blow to Africa. All these ugly activities are direct results of bad governances perhaps under the influences of foreign capitalists to plunge the continent into perpetual crises to enable the foreign powers indirectly loot Africa rich oil and other riches.

Africa is perceived mainly by the West as insignificance, but the continent’s oil and gas are among the few outstanding exceptions to the perceived insignificance of Africa by the West and other foreign capitalists. The United States will soon depend on Africa for a quarter of its total crude oil imports, and Africa already accounts for more than a quarter of China’s oil imports today.

In the words of the former chief executive of BP John Browne, unless geologists succeed in finding new and so far unidentified provinces, as consumers, we will all be dependent on supplies from just three areas — West Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

Dozens of research findings point to the fast that the People’s Republic of China and United States’ interests in Africa are complex, and many issues such as terrorism are high on the agenda. Africa is littered with fragile states. Upcoming and existing oil-producing countries in Africa have been marred by coup attempts and poverty.

In addition, the failure to share the revenues generated by natural resources such as oil in an equitable manner has created disenchanted and disillusioned within the young populations, which have provided a fertile ground for crisis and a haven for rebellions as evident of the ‘Arab Spring’, which rapidly propelled the destruction and demised of many leaders.
Accordingly, crude oil is one of the world’s most important strategic resources, and Africa has attracted a lot of attention among corporate and political decision-makers because of growing global oil demand.

Indeed, it has been suggested that Africa is experiencing a ‘New diplomatic race; thanks primarily to its oil and gas wealth, with the United States and the People’s Republic of China actively competing for access to Africa’s resources. China is currently Africa’s third most important trading partner, ahead of the United Kingdom and behind the United States and France.

In a world where both developed and developing countries require huge quantities of oil resources, Africa has once again become strategic for major actors in the international system. Strategic considerations related to Africa are, of course, influenced by global processes and rivalries, with China’s great power status having recently received particular attention.

China’s new style of diplomacy and its foreign policy principle of “non-interference” but one China policy have been characterized as sensitive to local conditions in Africa rather than imposing standards, as the case of the United States which imposes conditions such as human right, political and economic performance criteria for its foreign investment, aid assistance and support towards projects in Africa.

Unlike in other region like Latin America and Europe where the United States maintains political influence, China on the other hand maintains robust economic influence in Africa. The United States finds it difficult to outweigh China in its financial aid to African due to Beijing new “checkbook diplomacy” and aid to African governments and institutions, although the U.S. militarily out-spent China

In contrast and comparison, this subject looks at Washington and Beijing growing impact on the African continent in the context of influence and support to the continent. While it is difficult to draw out a definite conclusion, empirically China is posing greater threat to the U.S. influence in Africa, except for other regions such as the Latin America, Asia and Middle East where U.S. commends greater respect.
China and the United States use tools of soft power in different ways and with varying effects. Since the mid-1990s, the PRC has adopted an increasingly active and pragmatic diplomatic approach in Africa that emphasizes complementary economic interests.

China’s influence and image have been bolstered through its increasingly open and sophisticated diplomatic corps as well as through prominent PRC-funded infrastructure, public works, and economic investment projects in many African countries; Beijing have diplomatic mission in 49 African countries.
The U.S. international public image is gradually declining on the continent perhaps due to its foreign policies that remain unpopular abroad. The U.S. government has persistently criticized U.S. state diplomacy as being neglectful of smaller countries or of countries and regional issues that are not related to the global war on terrorism.

The United States continues to exert global foreign aid leadership and maintain a major, and much appreciated, aid presence in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. U.S. foreign assistance to Southeast Asia has increased markedly since 2001, although most new funding has been directed at counter-terrorism.

The regions with the largest U.S. public diplomacy efforts in terms of funding are Europe/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Carribean). Likewise, the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program seeks to promote democratic values, mutual understanding, and professional and personal relationships in addition to military capacity.

Many aspects of U.S. social, economic, cultural, academic, technological, and other forms of influence, much of which emanate from the private sector or outside the scope of government, remain unmatched in the world. Many American ideals have long-term, universal appeal, while the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants and foreign students.

Despite a perceived lack of attention among elites, the United States has maintained favorable public image ratings in many African and Latin American countries as well as in the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
The United States and China share the same vital national interests of security and prosperity, although each has a particular additional interest and each defines its interests somewhat differently. Each seeks freedom from fear and want and to preserve its territorial integrity. For the United States, its particular interest lies in value preservation and projection of those values.

China has thus made in-roads into the oil sectors in Nigeria (Africa’s largest oil producer) and Angola (Africa’s second largest producer), which accounts for “13 per cent of China’s crude oil imports”. Other African countries with Chinese oil interests include Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Liberia, Ghana, Southern Sudan and Chad.

US oil interests are locked into major oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, and the “new oil boom states” Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Since most of the oil being discovered is off-shore, it also has the added advantage of being beyond the reach of protesting oil communities on land that are capable of disrupting the oil flow, as had been the case in the restive Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta since the 1990’s (Obi 2006a: 93-94).

It is fair to argue that the African continent has not traditionally been at the centre of United States of America (USA) foreign policy. Historical links between the U.S. and African countries date back centuries, but significant change in both relations has been the growing concern about the hunt for resources and terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

The United States recent re-engaging with the continent indicates that Africa does occupy a central place in US global foreign policy strategy. The US is the world’s largest development aid donor and has programs dedicated to Africa with billions of dollars being spent in various sectors on the continent.

The Sino-African oil relationship can become complex due to other linked areas of concern. Oil, as part of China’s desire to acquire more natural resources, has brought criticism of China’s “neo-colonialist” presence in Africa, and questions whether China’s presence benefits governance and the African people.

China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-four countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011 while most western analysts believe that the main driving force behind China’s investment in Africa is for natural resources and thus focuses on a few resource rich countries.

China is currently the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, and more than half of its crude oil is imported and by 2020, official sources estimate that China will import about 65 percent of its crude oil China’s presence in Africa, According to Shelly Zhao briefing paper April 2011, to secure oil resources has been increasing.

The study of international relations has historically focused on the activities of large, powerful states, dismissing the smaller entities of the international system as unimportant or merely objects of policy for the larger entities. This truism extends especially to those entities that exist in a partially recognized limbo, neither a full part of the international system nor an ungoverned space.

Yet in the post-Cold War world, following the dissolution of large multi-national states such as the USSR, these entities have begun to proliferate, such is the case of Moscow in Ukraine and Syrian’s brutal civil crises.
This proliferation provides a significant challenge to an international system in which the primary participants are states, and to the institutions created to oversee their interaction for world peace. As such the study of these entities and their interaction with the world outside their borders is a study important for a systemic understanding of contemporary international relations.

This new race for Africa’s resources is already engendering conflicts across the region. By analyzing the likely impact on the economies of oil-producing states, it considers whether we should dismay or rejoice over the ‘New Scramble for Africa’. It concludes that the existence of a New Scramble or a US–Chinese race for Africa should be treated with some caution, while the economic impact of oil investments is likely to be bleak.

Both the American and the Chinese Governments were important in paving the way for American and Chinese oil interests in expanding in Africa. The US Government used diplomatic instruments such economic incentives and military aid. China has proven more supportive and has provided loans, debt relief, scholarships, training, and provision of military hardware without political or economic pre-conditions, in exchange for a foothold in the oil business.

In turn, incumbent African leaders have identified Chinese unconditional financial resources, cheap products, and know-how as an important tool to fend off pressure for political and economic reforms from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Western governments. China is the new superstar on the African continent when it comes to new diplomatic ties, trade expansion and investments in large-scale development projects.

This was emphasized at the recent China-Africa summit in Beijing (5th Forum on China and Africa Cooperation held in Beijing in July 2012). While most hailed the new Chinese drive, some fear a new scramble for Africa’s vast natural resources. Widely believed to become the world’s largest economy, China is successfully seeking its place under the African sun. Starting out with pariah nations such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, excellent relations are now held with almost all of Africa’s 54 states.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where copper and diamonds have inspired wars and mayhem, there is currently intense competition and militia rivalries over the mining and sale, a critical raw material used in mobile phones and electronic devices.
The battle over uranium, used in feeding nuclear reactors, continues to be at the root of conflicts in Niger. The connection between conflict and foreign exploitation of mineral resources can be drawn with respect to other countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy, subject to Cold War rivalries, their path to development largely blocked by their debilitating colonial past. More recently, the West has choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) than on health care, education, infrastructure, and other vital services combined.

For African governments, China’s new interest mostly has been a blessing. Diplomatically, their dependence on Western countries is eased, allowing new diplomatic competition as in the Cold War era, and giving pariah leaders an alternative backing. Chinese aid funds are also popular, because Beijing asks no questions on good governance and is fond of prestigious grand projects.

Economically, however, the Chinese advance has come with mixed blessings for Africa. With China’s admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has boomed into an economic superpower of cheap mass produced exports, giving no room for African competition. But Beijing is not only interested in gaining African export markets. The economic superpower is not endowed with many natural resources, making Beijing dependent on mass imports of crude materials.

Most importantly, there is evidence of greater involvement of the United States and China in Africa, in terms of both commercial interests and political engagement. “China’s bilateralism in relation to Africa” could undermine regional and continental institutions as “it replays the colonialist divide and conquer tactics.” Wars need money.

From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Angola to Cambodia, natural resources such as timber, diamonds and minerals have helped fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians. Currently, there is an amazing infrastructure race taking place within East Africa, helping to reduce investment risk within the region. We see East Asian powers providing infrastructure in order to gain a competitive advantage in these regions.
China is taking a very broad approach and accessing the region whole heartily. We are also seeing Japan’s involvement, and the US through Anadarko’s involvement in Mozambique. Infrastructure is being built for mining and mineral interests, and hydrocarbons are taking a secondary spot. This will provide energy companies with an opportunity to wait for infrastructure to develop. This fact increases a company’s incentive to be a little less aggressive in terms of entering and building infrastructure specifically for energy.

Battling to overcome its own created problems such as bad governance, Africa throughout the Cold War until the mid-2000s, played only an insignificant role on the world’s stage in the context of international relations and diplomacy. This is not to say that Africa was irrelevant but the developments of the Cold War somewhat overshadowed the continent on the global stage.

During the Cold War period, most of Africa remained within the spheres of influence of the former colonial powers, which made use of the relative freedom they were given by the Great Powers to materialize their interests in Africa, but with the end of the Cold War, things somehow turned the other way in the interest of the continent.

Africa’s recent advancement on the world’s stage has sparked out neurons calls for the continent to occupy a seat on the Security Council with an equal veto, but the question that arises is which of the three African countries to occupy the dedicated seat ? Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco are all vying and not ready to allow either one of the three to represent Africa if the occasion arises.

The continent in recent time has been re-positioning in the international system as far as international relations and politics are concerned, but greed for power and wealth, and bad governances, are some of the major problems that are affecting the continent.
In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy; most recently, the West and East have choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts. The legacy of Western domination has left Africa devastated with crippling rates of poverty, hunger, and disease. The continent today has a gross national per-capita yearly below that of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in most African countries, and an average life expectancy of only fifty years.

According to UN’s report, eighty-five percent of Africans have no access to standard pipe borne water, good healthcare delivery system, electricity, social security benefits, sanitation facilities and good meals a day. The report further indicates that 25.8 million people of the two-thirds of the total world population suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Africa. Africa remains a continent abundant in human and natural resources, but are managed to enrich only a handful of African leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, certain individuals and foreign capitalists who continue to exploit the continent.
However, this ‘new scramble’ differs in at least two regards from its colonial predecessor.

First, the pool of actors has widened and Europeans are no longer the dominant outside actors in Africa. China, for instance, has emerged as one of the most active players in Second, while African governmental elites currently are key players with considerable bargaining leverage.

More cautionary thinkers who read international politics point to the prevailing poverty and corruption, civil disobedience, bad governance and the weak political parties and institutions in Africa, while other analysts predict the continent will have a promising future. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in between with a 50-50 reality.

Evaluating the continent’s key actors performances on the global stage, many observers see Africa steadily moving towards Beijing, while others regard tales of a successful Sino-African future with suspicion and point to the robustness of US–African ties.

Nowadays more than ever, as Jean-François Bayart wrote rather provocatively a decade ago, the ‘discourse on Africa’s marginality is baloney. The economic, demographic, and political developments on the African continent suggest that Africa is moving away from the periphery of the international system, not without consequences for the traditional international actors in the region.

But farsighted political figures, also agreed that Africa has entered a new phase of history, which is characterized by increased African actors on the world stage, with greater influences.
For instance, a good marker of this change is the greater interest that the continent has received from Asian and other emerging countries and the resulting competition between well-established and new actors on the African continent.
By: Josephus Moses Gray
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By: Josephus Moses Gray

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