– Linda Thomas Greenfield
U.S Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas Greenfield has commended the Government and people of Liberia for the level of progress made thus far. Secretary of State Greenfield said though Liberia has moved one step from tragedy to trial, there was more to be done in order for the country to find its place.
Speaking on the topic Securing a Peaceful, and Prosperous Future for Liberia at the African Methodist Episcopal University or AMEU down town Monrovia on Monday, Secretary of State Greenfield indicated that the fifteen years of civil war in which Liberia was engulfed in 2003
evastated the country and every aspect of development. The former U.S Ambassador to Liberia, quoting the World Bank’s Human Development Index, said the country’s average Gross Domestic Progress or GDP is 10% – meaning people are unable to feed themselves, but thirteen years later Liberia has become a champion of democracy in peace by taking some important footsteps in its development agenda.
Addressing students, and staff of the AME University, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as heads of political institutions on Monday, May 16, 2016, the US Diplomat noted that rebuilding the economy, while strengthening the delivery of healthcare must be a first priority of the government.
According to her, Liberia made progress by joining the open government partnership – a signal that the country was on the right path. He said after thirteen years of civil conflict, Liberia has held three successful nationwide elections leading to the decisions accepted by politicians and the citizens at large. Ambassador Greenfield further pointed out that Liberia has shown tremendous resilience in the aftermath of the deadly Ebola crisis, emphasizing that the task ahead is to ensure that Liberia faces the right trajectory, owing to the fact that the country has moved up the democracy ladder toward success.
According to her, despite the tremendous progress, Liberia continues to face daunting challenges and a back sliding. “We all saw the devastation that Ebola brought to this country; and we cannot continue on that same journey of back-sliding, because over 50% of Liberia’s population is under 18.
This presents great opportunities, but it also has significant challenges as well,” she noted, saying to accommodate this population voge, there was a need for Liberia to create more jobs, develop infrastructure and diversify the economy, as well as build the education system that will remain stable.
She said in the World Bank 2016 development index, Liberia ranks 179 out of 189 – something she noted was not good enough for the country. The former U.S Ambassador to Liberia added that one of the greatest challenge that Liberia would face is from the private sector.
“We got to fight corruption if you want to see this progress; there is a need for everybody to work and stop corruption at all levels, and stop people from using their political connections to fill their bank accounts to build their mansions,” she warned, further saying Liberia must also stay focus to maintain peace, enforce the rule of law, as well as provide security for the safety of its people.
She expressed confidence that the country was ready for such job, but would require results. “It’s going to require ingenuity; it going to require many challenges,” she added. Meanwhile, the U.S State Department Official has assured that as Liberia moves forward, the United States will continue to be a dedicated partner, noting that the US-Liberia relations began some 200 years ago.
She said since 2004, the U.S. has contributed over US$1bn and some assistance to Liberia. “We have truly invested in Liberia as we promised, and we want to see that promise realized because Liberia has one of the lowest electricity rates in the world; in Monrovia only 6.7% of the population has access to electricity, and by 2030 Liberia is to connect 70% will provide access to the rest of the country,” she said, indicating:.
“We are also working with Liberia to build resilient health care system and many other things to beef up the development agenda of this country.”
She noted that U.S’ commitment to Liberia was peace and security, saying “we have supported the development of the Arm forces of Liberia; as we enter into a new face of collaboration with the Arm forces, we look forward to working with you as you stand prepared to handle security matters”.
by Lewis S. Teh-Edited by George Barpeen