MONROVIA – Liberia’s Head of State Dr. George Manneh Weah, continues his international engagements aimed at marketing the national image and attracting worthwhile foreign support to the development of the country. This week, he, along with government delegation, has been in the United States of America meeting various stakeholders, including potential investors. Yesterday, he once again took to the world stage and delivered yet another landmark oration, this time targeting the US audience, mainly diaspora African youthful of varying vocations and statuses. As The Analyst report, the Liberian Chief Executive used the opportunity to rally businesspeople and politicians to take a positive look at Liberia, and Africa as a whole, towards connecting to the largest and potentially rich Continent.
Liberian President George Manneh Weah as a principal speaker at the United States-African Submit Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at which time he urged diaspora Africans, mainly the youth, to take interest in making Africa great by investing on the Continent.
The summit was organized by President Joseph R. Biden and is being attended by nearly 50 African leaders and US officials.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, President Weah accentuated the importance of the role young people and the general African diaspora must play in addressing the needs of the continent, mainly through, innovation, investment and knowledge transfer.
“It is often said in Africa that young people are our future leaders. But I have observed that not much opportunities are created to allow them to reach their full potential,” the President acknowledged the horde of constraints facing the young people of Africa.
“This has made a growing number of them to seek opportunities here in the West, where they have acquired quality education and useful skills in order to contribute to the development and advancement of society.”
He however expressed the belief that young people are capable of conquering the world if given a place to stand.
Recalling his Youthful Contributions
He told the forum of predominantly young people of the United States that from a poor and humble background growing up in the slums of Gibraltar in Liberia, he managed through hard work, discipline and determination to climb to the top of his career as a professional footballer.
“While pursuing my professional career in the diaspora myself,” he said, “I took back many investments to my home country, Liberia, Zanzibar, Cote D’Ivoire and other parts of Africa.
“I invested in many businesses and I invested in human capital by supporting many young people in acquiring education to enable them advance their lives and have a livelihood. And so today I say to the youth of Africa, you can also succeed in your chosen fields of endeavor, if you are prepared to be diligent, disciplined, and determined.”
But he also called African governments to create the enabling environment and the requisite framework that will allow young people in the diaspora contribute, through their education and innovation, to the transformation of the beloved continent of Africa.
He noted: “Our brothers and sisters in the diaspora are indispensable partners in the development aspirations of our various countries. We must welcome them. We must embrace them. We must recognize them. Africans in the diaspora and Africans in Africa are one people. We can succeed if we allow peace to reign. And, we can succeed if we lay the framework for our young people to have a smooth transition in the democratic process.”
Exalting US-Liberia Relations
At the onset of his statement, the Liberian Chief Executive extolled the long and historic relationship Liberian has had with the United States, which he said, “has led us to having common positions on issues such as democracy, human rights, global peace and security.”
He said both countries hold the view that this Summit will strengthen our partnership and increase their commitments to foster stronger cooperation in seeking the broad interest of our respective countries in particular, and the world at large.
Dr. Weah asserted that the Summit should also reinforce the continued true partnership and friendship Liberia has got with the United States and that “this should enable us to re-define and reset our urgent priorities in economic, social, and political engagements that will serve as the reinforcement of our genuine commitment to democracy, human rights, transparency and good governance”.
He assured the United States that Liberia believes that such engagements between Africa and the United States will improve and strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships, foster peace and security on the continent of Africa.
Invest in Africa
Speaking further, President Weah said with millions of African descendants and immigrants in the diaspora, there is no doubt that this is a vast reservoir of talent, training, expertise, and financial capacity which must and should be utilized to enhance the advancement and development of our Continent.
According to him this collaborative effort will serve as the bridge connecting Africans in the diaspora back to their collective roots and cultural identities.
“It is therefore incumbent upon us as leaders to recognize and acknowledge the significance of these many millions of our compatriots living in the diaspora communities, whose contributions are pivotal to the growth and development of our continent,” the Liberian leader said, adding: “Although physically separated from the motherland, they have a major influence on the socio-economic, cultural, and political landscape of their respective countries, which should not be overlooked or under-estimated.”
Connecting Africa to Diaspora Africans
President recounted that it was in recognition of the value of Liberian diaspora community that he, at the inception of my administration nearly five (5) years ago, embarked upon the process of removing restrictive laws to encourage the Liberian diaspora to contribute more to the development of our country.
“Today, I am pleased to inform you that, in July of this year, I signed into law an Act authorizing dual citizenship and allowing women to pass citizenship to their children. By so doing, my administration has now removed all legal barriers which had prevented natural-born Liberians from rightfully resuming citizenship of the land of their ancestors. Once a Liberian, always a Liberian!”
He said this is a demonstration of his Government’s commitment to ensure that its diaspora community is not left out in the national reconstruction and development of Liberia.
“We consider the Liberian diaspora community as a valuable asset to our nation’s growth and development, and their full participation is an important part of the nation-building process,” he said.
He noted that Africa’s future ought to be bright, as “we have the potential to turn around the grim outlook of the continent that is presented in the news daily.”
With more than 60 percent of Africans being young people, President Weah further indicated, “we have the demographic dividend capable of making our region responsive to the needs of its people”.
“So my distinguished African diaspora brothers and sisters,” he declared, “I would like to invite you to join us in helping to build a New Africa where peace, unity, democracy, human rights, comprehensive freedom, tolerance, togetherness, cooperation, reconciliation, equal opportunity for all so that growth and sustainable development will be the cornerstone and foundation for the future of Africa.”