“Cape Mount, Your Time is Now!”-Sando Wayne Unveils County Development Agenda

For anyone who doubted that Grand Cape Mount senatorial aspirant Sando Wayne is dead serious about using the Liberian senate as a launching pad to better the lives of his people, the man who participated and lost in the 2019 senatorial by-election and the 2020 senatorial election in Grand Cape Mount County, is telling naysayers that it now the time for the people of Cape Mount to get the right leadership.

Speaking with The Analyst over the weekend in a lengthy telephone conversation, the seasoned politician and public policy development specialist who is currently in the United States on a sabbatical, provided a detailed rendition of his well-laid out plans for the people of Grand Cape Mount County, saying that his people should look no further because he is the man who will deliver the much-needed strategies and programs that will change their lives.

“Cape Mount, look no further. We are about the future. And the future is about Cape Mount. It is about you. It is about your neighbors and your children. We need Cape Mount and Cape Mount needs us. If we cannot do it for Cape Mount now, then when? If not us then who? Grand Cape Mount County, this is our journey. Let’s take it together,” Sando Wayne said.

Unveiling his “County Development Agenda” Wayne said that by 2027, the People of Cape Mount County should have access to improved infrastructure and access to basic services including good health care, quality education, good road network, and electricity; an industrialized agricultural economy; and a peaceful and secured environment for all.

“In our effort to achieve these objectives, we offer you a set of policy prescriptions to start the ‘change we can begin at home’, while assuring everyone a minimum income opportunity from the jobs our policies would create.

“Grand Cape Mount County – I am seeking a new social contract with you, to position our county, so that together, we can open it up to investment and ensure its tourism potential is maximized to be the engine of social and economic transformation, moving lives from poverty to prosperity,” Mr. Wayne said.

Robust Tourism

Acknowledging that the tourism industry has traditionally proven to be a strong pillar of socio-economic development and is the second largest employer to agriculture, mainly because of the economic linkages and diversification the sector promotes within the broader economy, Wayne said immediate focus as Senator of Grand Cape Mount will develop the sector as a means of providing sustainable livelihood for the county.

“We are presenting a tourism policy that promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social inclusiveness. The tourism value chain incorporates several sectors; it would create income generating jobs from the construction and operation of hotels, restaurants, conference centers, jet ski and boat riding, mountain climbing, surfing games, and other tourism-related activities through backwards linkages; and from the development of basic infrastructure services, such as roads, energy, telecommunications and environmental services; agriculture, manufacturing and other support services. Collectively or separately, these services promote job creation for our local communities and assure income generation.

“Undoubtedly, a tourism agenda which establishes Robertsport as a Tourism hub will create a wide range of forward linkages with sectors supplying services consumed by tourists. These include financial, telecommunications, retail, and recreational, cultural, personal, hospitality, security, and health services. In particular, the strengthening of Cape Mount’s tourism industry would benefit from the historical Airfield locations at Tallah Township, which Pan American and the US Army, NZ Squadrons used during WW II; and could be developed to contribute to the establishment of Tallah as a Tourism Airport City, supporting the sector.

“Similarly, other specific tourism-supporting infrastructure such as the pavement of the Madina-Robertsport road; Daniel’s Town-Tallah Township road; and establishment of a beltway road network: Sawelor – Mano River Congo – Weaju – Lofa Bridge, and connecting Sinje are also critical links for stimulating safe social commute, and agriculture production, while ports, hospitals and banks, which are powerful assets for accessing high-quality services, would add to creating Robertsport City and its Lake Piso communities as competitive tourism destinations in Africa. Combined, these assets would promote a mutually beneficial and increased cross-border trade with our Mano River Union (MRU) neighbors, becoming the forward linkages for self-employment, community development and a reduction of inequalities.

“Our Integrated Tourism Policy initiative is based on the participation of the local communities and all key stakeholders in its development. Because Tourism can contribute to Grand Cape Mount County’s urban renewal and rural development, and reduce economic imbalances experienced by giving our people the opportunity to prosper in their place of origin, as catalyst, it has the potential of producing positive spillover effects that can stimulate economic activities for everyone.

“Notwithstanding, we are aware of the perception that the tourism sector only benefits hotel owners and large businesses. This is a perception that our policy will change! We will pay close attention to the sector’s capacity to expand economic benefits to the local population and generate prosperity and wealth for all who live and wish to invest in the industry.

“A Cape Mount tourism industry will support deeper cross-sectorial linkages; attract more local investors; stimulate small-scale entrepreneurial activities, and promote broader participation of the local population in the sector.

“We are especially committed to a vibrant and invigorated community tourism model that enriches the quality of life in all the surrounding towns of Lake Piso and returns economic, cultural, social and environmental benefits to the communities in which tourism enterprises operate.

“We strongly believe that greater emphasis on local participation in the tourism sector will help us to deal with the perennial problem of leakage (capita flight), which is the unwanted leaving of money from the country as a result of taxes, wages, imports, and profits that are paid outside the country. Leakage prevents money from flowing back into our economy and stimulating local economic development.

“To address the problem of leakage and ensure that the tourism sector delivers on its promise of inclusive growth, we will identify areas where strong opportunities exist for increased consumption of local goods and services in the sector. And we will implement strategies for linking it to local industries for the overall benefit of the domestic economy. This approach forms the crux of our strategy, which aims to strengthen linkages with other sectors of the economy, particularly the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; strengthen the benefits derived from the industry by local residents and communities,’ promote broader participation by all in Cape Mount; and ensure the safety, security and sustainability of the natural and built environments.

“We will develop artisanal capacities in the local communities surrounding the lake to provide an avenue for the Lake Piso artists and craftsmen to expose and market their creativity while limiting the volume of imported craft items that will be sold in the industry.

“A Craft Development School (CDS) at the Starz Technical & Vocational College – University of Liberia and international partnership in the industry will be leveraged under a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen local capacities in the arts and crafts. This will be complemented by a Lake Piso Community Tourism Portal, which will be a web-based platform to promote licensed community-based tourism enterprises in the country and beyond. The portal will provide the local community tourism subsector with an online presence and online marketing strategies to create growth,” Mr. Wayne stated.

Food Security and Cross-border trade

The Grand Cape Mount County senatorial aspirant said, a second step in changing the lives of his people is to share with them improved farming techniques in all districts to increase their agricultural output, so as to be able to feed Cape Mount, and generate income from selling their excess crops on the local and global markets through cross-border trade at Bo Water side. “This way, the residents of our towns lining the Mano River boundary with Sierra Leone will be better positioned to create their own jobs and enter the global markets”.

Education and Socialization

Cognizant of the fact that education is the bedrock for national development, and that Grand Cape Mount County, specifically Robertsport, served for eons as the development hotbed for the education of the country’s leading professionals – be they lawyers, politicians, medical doctors, engineers, geologists, economists, priests, agriculturalists, dentists, nurses, financial analysts and civil servants, Mr. Wayne informed The Analyst that his Agenda will ensure the strengthening of the Starz Technical & Vocational College of the University of Liberia in Sinje, Garwular District.

“We will decisively forge a public-private partnership with concessions in the county for the enrichment of the college and school curriculum with the skill-set concessions would hire for, so that when our children graduate from school, they can find a job that pays a living wage, while reducing the cost to concessions in our domestic economy. In other words, we envisioned a development partnership with concessions in the county that supports a whole county approach to education and infrastructure development for all, and not just the communities that hold the title deeds of the operational area of the concession. And as we restore the vitality of our schools, we will propose that the Vai dialect and writing script be taught in our schools to enrich our culture heritage, which has received worldwide acclaim, but is at risk of extinction.

“Additionally, we will reach out to our brothers and sisters of Grand Cape Mount County in the diasporas to support and enrich these policy interventions with resources at their disposal for the development of our county. Not too long ago, Dr. Robert G. Sherman of Arizona, a son of Grand Cape Mount County, contributed immensely to development efforts back home. And we had the opportunity of collaborating on the development of numerous Memorandum of Understandings with capacity building and developmental overture between various academic and social institutions of the State of Arizona and Liberia. While these MoUs remain dormant, we are committed to working with Dr. Sherman to reactivate them with a view of redirecting benefits to be had to the social and economic development of Grand Cape Mount County. We need every one of the benefits assured by them. Because we have planned to take a whole Cape Mount approach to the transformation of our county, we will leverage the support of both individual citizens of the county at home and abroad, including the National Association of Cape Mountainians in the Americas to realize our policy objectives,” Mr. Wayne disclosed.

Healthcare delivery

As regards to healthcare delivery, Mr. Wayne said his County Development Agenda will prioritize improvement of healthcare delivery in the county, beginning with improvement in service delivery at the Saint Timothy Health Center in Robersport and all other Health Centers, in Garwular, Tewor, Porkpa, and Gola Konneh Districts, including increased support for healthcare providers at these facilities, sustained provision of medicine and medical supplies to all secondary health facilities to ensure a healthy population that is able to stimulate the growth of our domestic and national economies.

“In this context, we will seek support for funds from our County Development Fund to recruit and train health care providers at AM Diglioti, Cuttington University, etc., who will return to the County upon graduation and serve our community. In the same vein, we will also train teachers who would teach pupils in our rural areas,” he intoned.

Roads construction

Realizing that rural transport infrastructure in Grand Cape Mount County is still in an appalling state, aspirant Wayne said his County Development Agenda for Cape Mount will equally prioritize roads construction.

“Many agricultural commodities are either bulky or perishable (or both), and costs of transporting products can account for a high share in the value of final products where infrastructure and physical market access conditions are inadequate. Moreover, insufficient attention to the condition of secondary roads, which could serve as alternative and complementary routes of transit, have made travels impassable all year round, especially, the rainy season.

“We cannot overemphasize that good quality transport infrastructure is an important contributor to competitiveness and growth in tourism and agriculture. But, most secondary roads do not currently connect to the highway. As a result, the county’s main road, the Babangida Highway receives heavy traffic and is gradually deteriorating. Additionally, the condition of roads affects the integration of local markets and the social integration of the county as a coherent unit. Better secondary roads that connect to the major highway would reduce early deterioration, connect markets within the county, ensure students commute to school, and integrate the county’s economy with neighboring economies.

“Therefore, a concerted approach, based on public-private partnership under existing concession agreements and county development initiatives offers the best solution for overcoming problems of developing our secondary and primary transport network for safe commute, agriculture production and increased return from cross-border trade. Accordingly, we will work in partnership with the private sector, especially potential investors to our county to realize the development of our roads infrastructure,” he stated emphatically.

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) policy legislation

Grand Cape Mount County is one of the regions in Liberia that produces quality diamonds and gold. Artisanal and small-scale mining contribute to the revenues generated through the Ministry of Mines from this region.

Mr. Wayne says one of his development agenda priorities will on upgrading the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector as a livelihood strategy to promote poverty reduction in resource communities in Grand Cape Mount County, and to generate income for low income families and for the unemployed to help themselves to cross the poverty line.

“We are aware that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) employs ten times more people than large-scale mining. Rather than supporting small-scale mining, governments’ policies are often repressive on these miners. We have to reverse this trend in Liberia and share resources available to the state, also to ordinary people who hardly see, feel, or experience the benefits of these resources.

“We believe the only time ordinary citizens ever enjoy the benefit of their resources is when they engage in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining for precious stones. The benefits from commercialized mining, which comes in the form of taxes and royalties hardly ever reach the household level. In our Constitution, Government, rather than the communities where the resource come from is the owner and major consumer of resources. Because of this legal burden we as a people, imposed on ourselves and the consequences of neglect in communities, the Kimberly Process adopted in 2012 an “ASM for Development” framework, to be implemented by its member states. Similarly, the African Union recognized ASM formalization as one of its six areas of engagement under its 2011 Africa Mining Vision.

“Our policy is aimed at organizing and positioning small-scale miners into cooperatives to improve their lives and take better care of our local environments. It will connect stakeholders, including miners and their communities, and ensuring that better quality information is generated and used effectively by ASM, so that small-scale miners are not prevented from contributing to sustainable development. Our long-term goal is to add-value (process) to the minerals, and develop finished products for local and cross-border trade. For example, we can process our iron ore into cutlasses, axes, diggers, hoes, rakes, nails, hammers, steel rods, etc., for local, national, regional and international consumers.

“The policy will ensure that miners have access to the right financial services, market information and technology they need to make ASM a prosperous economic activity with reduced environmental impacts,” Wayne said.

Who is Sando Wayne?

Growing up Sando Wayne was renowned as the student activist groomed from Tienii in Grand Cape Mount County to Crown Hill at Professor Roland Tombekai Dempster’s compound where he reared by his late mother Bertha Konae Sherman in the early 70s.

Bertha would send him to Slip Way School, then G. W. Gibson School, later on to Tubman High School and onward to University of Liberia. Not only did young Sando Wayne excel in the image of Professor Dempster and Ambassador H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr, but he remained an active student leader in every classroom and school he entered, inspiring his own ideas of student-led and students-empowering idealogue. He was captain of the Tubman High and the University of Liberia quiz and debate teams and brought laurels to both institutions. He provided leadership for the formation of student groups: the student Uhuru Movement at GW Gibson School, the Student Ujama Brigade at William VS Tubman High School and the Student Integration Movement at the University of Liberia. He also served as Secretary General of LINSU before becoming Assistant Minister of State for Presidential Affairs (Dr. Sawyer); Senior Policy Advisor to Vice President Boakai; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Economic Integration, as well as World Bank Consultant

The Grand Cape Mount County senatorial aspirant is a career diplomat, development specialist, educator and politician. Over the years he served the University of Liberia as Adjunct Lecturer of Diplomacy and Negotiation at The Ibrahim B. Babangida Graduate School of International Studies – University of Liberia, from 2010 to present.

From 2017 to 2019, Wayne served as Manager of Community & Government Relations at the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation, Grand Cape Mount County; and was a Consultant & Research Analyst at the World Bank Liberia Office from 2013 to 2015. He also served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation & Economic Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia from 2012 to 2013; Senior Policy Advisor to the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, from 2010 to 2012; and Program Support Assistant for 72 United States Peace Corps Missions around the world, from 2006 to 2009.

He is an International Educator who taught at various institutions in the USA and Liberia. He also served as Assistant Minister of State for Administration, and later Public Affairs, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, from 1990 to 1994.

Sando Wayne holds a BA (cum laude) History and International Relations, from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Liberia (1989); M Ed – Curriculum & Instruction – Social Studies Education, University of Minnesota (2000); M A – International Relations, Webster University, St.  Louise, MO (2005); MPA – Master of Public Affairs & Administration, American University, Washington, DC (2009). He had also obtained a Certificate of Leadership from the United States Peace Corps Academy, US Peace Corps, Washington, DC (2008).As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Economic Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, Sando Wayne developed and implemented the Development and Public Diplomacy program, which mobilized Foreign Direct Capital for capacity building in the public sector and assured funding for rural infrastructural projects. As a result, nearly US$2 Million was secured for the construction of three rural bridges in Grand Cape Mount County, namely: The Dei Community Bridge in Tewor District; the Kaylia Community Bridge in Porkpa District, and the Tallah Community Bridge in Garwula District.

Summing up his plans for the people of Grand Cape Mount County, aspirant Wayne appealed to the hearts and minds of his people.

“We only have the citizens of Grand Cape Mount County’s best interests at heart. We bring to this race over 30 years of experience developing the skill-set of learners internationally, and more than 10 years of international public services. As Senior Policy Advisor to former Vice President Boakai, we developed firsthand workings knowledge of the Liberian Legislative processes.

“Additionally, our International experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the World Bank and the US Peace Corps are sufficient humbling experiences, which make us your best choice to begin the change at home; source bilateral cooperation and attract international investment of the scope and magnitude, Cape Mount can be assured of from partners in the international community. At the grassroots level, you have your proof in Kinjor! At the international level, you have your proof in 3 rural bridges in Cape Mount: Dei, Tallah, and Porkpa, and several bilateral cooperation agreements that have improved the infrastructure in Monrovia and its surroundings, when we diligently served our country and people.

“So Cape Mount, look no further. We are about the future. And the future is about Cape Mount. It is about you. It is about your neighbors and your children. We need Cape Mount and Cape Mount needs us. If we cannot do it for Cape Mount now, then when? If not us then who? Grand Cape Mount County, this is our journey. Let’s take it together.”

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