Recent comments by Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai towards Golden Veroleum Liberia’s Liberianization policy have been welcomed by the oil palm company.
In a press release, GVL notes that despite challenges in infrastructure conditions coupled with the Ebola outbreak effects on its operation, as well as currently still evolving national regulations, it will continue to work closely with government and local communities to achieve its oil palm objective by providing benefits to communities through employment, small business opportunities and sustained rural development.
“We do very much agree with the Vice President that there is a need to employ more Liberians in management and professional roles, which we are committed achieving,” GVL Spokesman Stephen Binda said in a statement. “GVL takes seriously its management training and career development programs through which several hundred Liberians have benefited, with many having been elevated to also senior management levels.”
As the largest employer in the Liberian Southeast, GVL says it has already employed approximately 3,700 Liberians with 64 in the management cadre and a further large number in supervisory and technical positions. They include positions in agronomy, factory engineering, finance and accounting, procurement, logistics, training, environmental, communications, community affairs and RSPO specializations.
Approximately 420 GVL agricultural scholarship recipients study in five universities and colleges and are eligible upon graduation to apply for the company’s management training program. In the past several months’ eight Liberian engineers returned from a 18-month training program in Indonesia and are earmarked to helping to lead the company’s project in building its first oil palm mill in Sinoe.
A release from the company quotes the spokesman as saying that GVL greatly appreciates the positive advice from the Vice President, and the company challenges all professional Liberians to rise to the occasion in taking up careers in or towards key management roles that may requires years of managerial experience at ensuring GVL achieves its objectives. The Liberian Government is a foremost stakeholder and partner to GVL, together with Liberian communities and the people.
“This is a process, not an event,” said Mr. Binda. “It requires committed, hardworking Liberians within and those coming on board. This will also depend on our investment climate as well.” Additionally, the company has also announced that plans have been finalized for the construction of a multimillion dollars oil palm processing plant in the country, starting this year, which will employ more than 100 manufacturing personnel.
The plant when completed would be one of the largest and most advanced in Africa, providing manufacturing jobs. GVL has completed its first batch of overseas oil palm engineering training of more than a year for Liberian graduate engineers, whose career tracks are hoped to take them into manufacturing management.
Mr. Binda mentioned that currently the company has open positions and is recruiting for finance & accounting, materials management, agronomy, sustainability, heavy-duty equipment specialists and mechanics. “We want as many Liberians as possible to apply for these positions and for future positions that are advertised. We are a Liberian company and as such we want to ultimately in the future have something that is made in Liberia by Liberians, which will help reduce rural poverty and ultimately help uplift the nation. Our Liberian managers are the first step in reaching that goal,” said Binda.
Current Liberian senior leaders in the company include department heads for human resources, government affairs, career and education programs, compliance, logistics and procurement, administration, community affairs, environmental and social sustainability, legal affairs, as well as even my role, Binda mentioned.
Binda added that the company is working with government and external stakeholders to build its smallholder program, which will provide direct economic and development benefits to local communities. Currently, the company has made its proposals to the government and stakeholders, and decisions on this need to be taken jointly.
While being one of the few Liberian companies in expansion mode, GVL anticipates approximately 35,000 to 40,000 Liberians will be directly or indirectly employed when the company is fully operational.