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BusinessGeneralInvestmentLiberia newsON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thoughts: What Liberians expect from the just ended US-Africa Business Summit?

By Othello B. Garblah

From May 6-9, 2024, over 1500 delegates, including eight African presidents and 16 ministerial delegations, joined their United States counterparts and seven international officials in the US city of Dallas, Texas, for a high-level business summit expected to unlock doors for US investments on the continent.

The event was the 16th edition of the US-Africa Business Summit, organized by the leading US business association, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), solely focused on connecting business interests in Africa.

Established in 1993, CCA has been key in promoting business and investment between the United States and African countries. An array of Government officials led by President Joseph N. Boakai strongly represented Liberia at this year’s summit.

The summit comes barely four months into the presidency of Amb. Boakai, who assumed the authority of the tiny West African nation on January 18, 2024.

With the country currently in dire need of serious investments to spur economic growth, this summit presents a clear opportunity for President Boakai and his team to woo American investors.

Held under the theme ‘U.S.-Africa Business: Partnering for Sustainable Success, ‘ the four days of strategic dialogues and networking, with many side events, including private meetings, provided President Boakai and team of officials with a perfect opportunity to market Liberia.

So what Liberians expect after the Summit?

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To reap any dividend from this summit, President Boakai should immediately appoint a committee that will continue to engage potential investors encountered at the summit as a follow-up to ensure that the nation reaps a tangible result in the form of investments because this is what Liberians expect.

Liberia’s problem has been following up on engagements and/or agreements. This special committee would be tasked with marketing the investment opportunities here and following up with potential investors, reassuring them of the investment opportunities Liberia has to offer and the government’s protection of their investments.

Arguably, this might not be Liberia’s first participation at the US-Africa Business Summit, especially since the end of the country’s three decades of civil war-an end that ushered in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration in which President Boakai served twelve years as her vice.

Negotiations may have led to gentlemanly agreements by investors to explore investment opportunities here during the Sirleaf regime. Certainly, there could have been. However, the dividends in investments from the summit during the Ellen and Weah regimes remain to be seen.

This is where the Boakai administration must be seen as doing things differently. The summit’s organizers have done their part by creating space for President Boakai and his team of officials to discuss critical issues or trends that affect investments in Liberia. They have enabled them to share and debate ideas with experts, and they may have also developed solutions and action plans to address the country’s investment gaps.

However, that is what the organizers can do; the rest is left with President Boakai and the team to work on domestic legislation and put in place the institutional measures that would make doing business here easier.

The event, no doubt, provided a vital platform for President Boakai and team of officials to showcase Liberia’s business potential and to explore opportunities for increased investment in key sectors such as energy, agriculture, and technology.

Nonetheless, it is one thing to showcase the investment opportunities here, but getting investors to commit is another reason President Boakai must act quickly to seize the opportunity.

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