Boakai Making Impactful Rounds -Assures Uncle Sam: “Our Resources Will Benefit Us”

MONROVIA: In his first-ever major foreign trip since his inauguration nearly four months ago, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has been having restless times in the United States where he, along with top other officials of his government, is attending the US-Africa Business Summit. There is criticism that the United States, despite being Liberia’s biggest funder, have no meaningful trade link with Liberia—something others attribute to the United States’ skepticism about good governance in Liberia. Towards this, the Liberian leader has been intentionally coining his messaging as to reassure his American hosts that business as usual is on the exit in Liberia and that all Liberians, irrespective of social and political backgrounds, will benefit from the country’s enormous resources. He reaffirmed the assurance again when he took the podium to address foreign investors at a business roundtable in Texas, as The Analyst reports.

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai is on fire with hypnotizing speeches in the United States where he is attending the US-Africa Business Summit that has brought together a swarm of foreign dignitaries, specifically entrepreneurs, from Africa, the United States and other regions of the world.

The Liberian leader has been using the opportunity of the summit to market Liberia’s rich investment climate and assuring well-meaning foreign investors that his country is open to fair and mutually rewarding trade.

He has particularly been convincing those who might be skeptical of the political and social environment in Liberia, against the backdrop of how the country has not been given its fair share of investment opportunities to its citizens, that Liberia is no more the same under his stewardship.

Speaking yesterday in Dallas, Texas, USA, during a Liberian Business RoundTable event which was attended by a large audience from the US business community, President Boakai said, under his administration, there will be a paradigm shift of how business will be conducted between foreign investors and the country.

He expressed optimism that the resources of the country will benefit the citizens and not just the investors and a few in government as it has been in the past, thus wooing investors to “take advantage of the enormous opportunities Liberia has that have remained untapped over the years”.

US-Africa Business Summit is the second biggest forum in the United States and, according to media dispatches, the Liberian leader is not leaving anything entrepreneurially possible unsaid as to tap in the huge investor vault created by the summit.

He reflected on his upbringing, saying he has spent all his life in the country and “have seen what has happened to Liberia”, and wondered how an investor that once had a business in the country, made profit and paid taxes would feel returning to the same country and finding it in a very poor and backward state.

“So, this time when we say Liberia is open to business, we are saying Liberia is open to business in a different way,” he rapped the investors-dominated roundtable.

“I lived Liberia and I saw Mining in Mano River; I saw the Liberia Mining Company (LMC) in Tubmanburg; I saw Yekepa, the Bong Mines in Bong county, and today when you go where these companies operated, they are all ghost cities with absolutely no life, no opportunities for people, nothing to show.”

“I intend not to blame the investors,” he continued. “I blame Liberians. But I want to say that this time, investment in Liberia will be investment that will benefit investors and leave something on the ground that we can remember. I want to signal that to all potential investors, that the resources not replaceable; that these are resources we need for our children’s children; these are resources that we need for the development of our infrastructures; and for all purposes, if you look at Liberia, we are not anywhere.”

Boakai said Liberia will have to insist on making sure that “we can benefit from our resources that leave the country and they must leave a mark and prosperity for our country”.

He said as much as the country will appreciate its citizens being employed by investors, the country will not just sit and commend the companies but will also ensure that the citizens get the best offer from the companies to develop its infrastructure and widen opportunities for growth and prosperity.

President Boakai frowned on companies building infrastructure only to satisfy their needs with little or no direct benefit to the country. He made reference to the railways built by companies in the country such as ArcelorMittal Mining Liberia.

The President added: “You build a railway just to serve your purpose, and when you leave what do we do with it? We want to make sure that the railway will benefit the country. The multi-users must have the final responsibility in governing principle that we will all agree for the benefit of the country.  If it must be a multiuser, then it must be multi-used for the purpose that benefit all because the reason for our involvement is to create the enabling environment that will enable all the participants to benefit.”

In discussing the poor state of infrastructure in the country, President Boakai solicited a sister airport relationship between the Roberts International Airport and the Dallas International Airport, something he said was previously discussed in the past but nothing has come to fruition.

He said under the new arrangement, he wants to see RIA not just living on old glory but with state-of-the-art facilities, expressing the wish that Delta Airline will be able to resume flights to RIA.

He said urged investors to make Liberia their destination to do business in diverse areas because “everything you want to invest in is there in Liberia”.

The Liberian Chief Executive further encouraged investors with the promise that he will continue to pursue a total fight against corruption in the country by sending out a warning against government officials and investors alike who will want to go the route of short cuts to short change the system.

“For those who want to take short cut at this time, they are doing it at their own risk with their jobs because this time around, the Liberian people spoke out to make sure that things work for all and that people who live in Liberia can enjoy a beautiful country,” he asserted.

President Boakai bemoaned the bad state of Liberia, Africa’s first republic, despite being enormously blessed by providence.

“Liberia is a blessed country except that we have not made good use of the blessing,” he said. “We have a 350 miles coast line; we have one of the oldest airports and we have everything you need in terms of green, vegetation; more than 6 percent of West Africa rainforest, we got some of the best species of fishes. Yet all of these have not benefited our people.”

He stressed his determination to invest in the young people whom he said constitute about 60% of the entire population of the country through vocational and technical education and training as a way to combat youth unemployment in the country.

He indicated that no investor will be willing to go to a country without trained manpower, soliciting assistance for investment in the young people. He called attention to facilities at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) which he said has links to the United States of America.

President Boakai said his purpose of contesting the presidency was not to make name for himself but “to produce a legacy for our young people and let them to know that they have a responsibility to play in this country.”

“For me, I am not like other politicians that will talk about the next elections. I am concerned about the next generation,” he said. “We will do everything possible to leave a legacy for the next generation, we have what it takes and we will ensure that we will not disappoint them.”

During the program, several investors expressed their interests to invest in Liberia in various sectors. They expressed optimism that the Boakai administration will set the country on the path of prosperity.

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