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Create Economic Zone for Diaspora Liberians

-Eminent Wettee urges, as he was honored “father of dual citizenship” by European Federation of Liberian Association

The Eminent Chairman of the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), Mr. Emmanuel S. Wettee, is proposing an economic zone for Liberians, who live outside their country.

Eminent Wettee: “According to the Central Bank of Liberia, World Bank Report and President [George Manneh] Weah’s State of Nation Address in January 2023, the remittance of Diaspora Liberians to Liberia is in fearless competitions with direct investments in Liberia. Thus, an Economic Free Zone for Diaspora Liberians has the potential to generate about One Billion US Dollars for the Liberian Economy according to preliminary research after interviewing some Liberian entrepreneurs in the diaspora.”

He made the call when he served as the keynote speaker at a Liberia 176th Independence Day program organized by the European Federation of Liberian Association (EFLA) and Liberian Association of the Netherlands (LAN) in Bijlmerpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands.   

According to Eminent Wettee, the dual citizenship bill that was signed into law by President George Weah on July 22, 2022, and printed into handbill by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 25, 2022, provides legal protections for Liberian entrepreneurs, who are based in the diaspora. “Just as diaspora Liberians created an institution to advocate for dual citizenship, they can do the same to advocate for an Economic Free Zone for Diaspora Liberians. A well-structured and discipline advocate team, collaborating with the President of Liberia and lawmakers can make this happen,” he assured his audience.

He indicated to his audience that the creation of the economic zone was something that “deeply resonates with diaspora Liberians living in the North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and other parts of Africa.” He spoke on the theme, “The Benefits of an Economic Free Zone for Diaspora Liberians and the Significance of Dual Citizenship.”

According to Mr. Wettie, the concept of an economic free zone dedicated to diaspora Liberians holds immense potential. “Picture a land or place in Liberia allocated by the government, exclusively reserved for the investments of our diaspora community when they choose to return home. This zone would provide an ideal environment for entrepreneurship, innovation, and help to replace brain drain with brain gain and economic empowerment. Such an economic free zone would be a catalyst for progress, providing diaspora Liberians a platform to contribute their skills, expertise, and resources to revitalize key sectors of our economy. It would create opportunities for job creation, skill transfer, and technological advancement, fostering sustainable development and uplifting entire communities.”

Eminent Wettee further stated that diaspora Liberians have played a pivotal role in providing substantial financial contributions to Liberia’s development: through remittances and investments, they have injected much-needed capital into the country’s economy, supporting local businesses, families, and communities.

“In Liberia, the diaspora has been a vital source of support through the remittances they send back home. From 2013-2015 the remittance flow to Liberia was between $414 million and $645 million, while in 2021 it was $338.07 million (a notable drop as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic),” this is according to Norrestad F (2023) Value of Remittance Inflow to Liberia from 2010 to 2019, Statista (online).

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Speaking further, Wettee said, “By the end of 2022, our diaspora community’s contributions had reached an estimated US$418 million, further improving livelihoods, access to education, healthcare, infrastructure, and driving economic growth in Liberia. This financial support demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the well-being and progress of our homeland.

“Furthermore, an economic free zone would encourage a sense of belonging and a reconnection with our cultural heritage. It would empower diaspora Liberians to actively shape Liberia’s future, fostering a shared vision of prosperity and progress. By harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge accumulated abroad, we can forge a stronger bond between the diaspora and the native country.”

Urging Diaspora Liberians to Make Use of the New Dual Citizenship Law

Eminent Wettee, who was honored as “Father of Dual Citizenship” during the program, urged his fellow Liberians, to make maximum use of the dual citizenship law that he and others had aimed at for decades. “In addition to the economic benefits, the opportunity for dual citizenship holds significant value for diaspora Liberians. Dual citizenship enables us to fully participate in the affairs of our homeland while maintaining our ties with our adopted countries. It grants us the rights and privileges of citizenship, allowing us to engage actively in shaping Liberia’s political, social, and economic landscape.

“I urge each one of us to embrace and make use of the dual citizenship law that was recently passed by the Liberian Legislature. By embracing dual citizenship, we can bridge the gap between the diaspora and local communities, fostering collaboration, and promoting a greater understanding of our diverse perspectives.

“To make this vision a reality, it requires the commitment and collaboration of all stakeholders irrespective of political affiliation. The government and diaspora Liberians must demonstrate their dedication by providing the necessary infrastructure, policies, and regulatory frameworks to facilitate investment and ensure the success of the economic free zone.”

He concluded his speech by hoping that the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac can lead them (diaspora Liberians) to the ‘Promised Land’ of having an Economic Free Zone for diaspora Liberians.

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