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U.S. investment delegation in Liberia

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The CEO and President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and head of the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, Elizabeth Littlefield, is in Liberia with a delegation of business executives to meet with Liberian Government officials and business leaders to identify commercially viable investments to bring “leap-ahead” technology to Liberia’s economy.

The OPIC role is to provide long-term loans and risk mitigation to support such investments. According to a statement issued in Monrovia, the institution’s portfolio in Sub-Saharan Africa has grown by more than $6 billion in recent years – it feels is still too small, and aims to change.

CEO Elizabeth Littlefield and delegation are here, foremost, to listen and learn, as those who live within an economy invariably have the greatest insight into its needs and potential, and into what needs to be done to attract and keep the private investment that is so essential to job creation. They are in the country to stand in solidarity with Liberians along with the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S.

Agency for International Development and the Power Africa interagency coalition to underscore that the future of the two nations will continue to be intertwined. The statement said with every step toward further

electrification, the foundation for diversifying Liberia’s economy  grows stronger – that holds promise for both nations.

According to the statement, they are also here to offer Liberian companies face-to-face access to investors and to provide information about the resources those OPIC and interested investors may be able to share.
“Perhaps most important, we are here to help send a message to other investors around the world: Liberia is open for business.
This message is especially critical now, as Liberia is in the midst of
transitions on so many fronts: shifting Ebola investments from crisis
management to long-term improvements to the nation’s healthcare
system, joining the World Trade Organization, drawing down UNMIL and
working to ensure a peaceful, democratic presidential election,” the
statement quoted the delegation as saying, further noting that after
the election, Liberia will have to continue improving
the strength of government institutions, though some inherent
challenges will persist or be slow to resolve. The statement indicated
that other countries will continue to compete for many of the same
foreign
investors Liberia would want, saying such challenges are part of the
Liberia’s story, but they should not obscure the broader case for
optimism.
It said the global population grew by some 500 million over the past seven
years. Yet prices for a wide swath of commodities actually decreased.
According to the statement, this runs against the fundamentals of
supply and demand, indicating that as commodity
prices rebound, Liberia has the potential to benefit markedly.
“Liberia’s political leadership continues to recognize the importance
of diversifying the nation’s economy and improving its investment
climate. This recognition and long-term direction alone is critical,”
said the statement, noting that far too many African nations have
relied on natural resources for too much of their economic activity.
“Liberia can and, I believe, will begin to see progress in sectors
such as agro processing,
manufacturing and eco-tourism in the years ahead.
One of Liberia’s greatest assets, of course, is its human capital—the
capital realized, and the capital unrealized,” the statement quoted
the head of the delegation as saying.
“Women have achieved
progress in government, the judiciary and other positions of political
authority. Yet their economic participation has lagged. Liberia is now
finding ways, through vocational and technical instruction, to bring
them into sectors such as health care and education. As this happens
with small businesses and entrepreneurship, Liberia will thrive all
the more.
None of these factors alone will assure Liberia’s economic
renaissance,” she is further quoted as indicating. However, the
statement said, aligned together they create a powerful economic
ecosystem – of particular importance being infrastructure ranging from power and
transportation to water and telecommunications.

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