Setting Liberia’s Economic Recovery Agenda -Cummings Meets with Topnotch Experts at Harvard Forum

MONROVIA: Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, a leading Liberian Presidential contender running on the ticket of the opposition Collaboration Political Parties (CPP) as its Standard Bearer, who has repeatedly based his quest for the highest office in the land on the overriding need to fix the country’s perennial socioeconomic and governance malaise, met with several top notch international consultants at a Policy Forum at the Harvard University campus on Thursday, June 29, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to discuss the Rwanda recovery model that sought to find “enterprise solutions to poverty” in Africa, as a means of leveraging the Rwandan experience into his own economic modules for Liberia’s recovery when he becomes President after the October 10, 2023 Presidential and General Elections.

At a special Policy Forum on the theme “Liberia’s Path to Recovery, As Aligned with Rwanda’s,” held at Harvard University, Mr. Cummings engaged with several key experts, who were involved in Rwanda’s recovery.

Presentations focused on Liberia as an inspiring opportunity for African Americans and Diaspora Africans to re-engage with their heritage. Finding means to make this a reality was a major part of the discussions.

Liberia’s 14 years of devastating civil war is a shared story with Rwanda’s own experience and many barriers to recovery. Cummings, Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), spoke on the daunting path to Liberia’s economic recovery, with references also to challenges caused by Liberia’s 14 years civil war, the Ebola epidemic, Covid pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to a dispatch from Boston, Mr. Cummings emphasized the critical need for new leadership and mindset, political stability, infrastructure development, economic growth, and social reconciliation. He stressed the imperative need for competent and qualified leadership with renewed mindset to foster unity, combat corruption, and ensure accountability and transparency in Liberia’s governance system.

Political stability and restoration of the rule of law, with a strong and independent judiciary, are crucial for economic recovery and growth, Mr. Cummings averred.

The CPP Standard Bearer, who is visiting the U.S., said infrastructure development, including roads, energy, technology, and sanitation, are critical to attract direct foreign investment and trade opportunities needed for job creation, and improved access to basic social services.

Mr. Cummings said economic diversification, private sector development, and value addition were critical to reduce dependency on the extractive sector.

He cited social reconciliation, inspired by Rwanda’s post-genocide experience, as a vehicle to engage hearts and minds, promote dialogue, justice, forgiveness, and national unity.

The Liberian Presidential aspirant told the forum that lessons from Rwanda’s enterprise solutions, such as a private sector focus, technology and innovation, agriculture and rural development, and social protection programs, as highlighted by participants, were valuable for Liberia’s recovery.

Mr. Cummings emphasized the importance of tailoring the solutions to Liberia’s specific needs and seeking international collaboration for sustainable development and recovery.

He expressed the readiness of Liberians for real change and hoped for cooperation from friends and partners in achieving this goal.

Participants at the special Liberia Policy Forum were senior advisor to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Mr. Michael Fairbanks; and Dale Dawson, founder of Bridge2Rwanda, who also serves as Presidential Advisor. Dawson helped launch a bank in Kigali in addition to other business and social enterprises, and is a former Partner at KPMG and Head of Investment Banking at Stephens Inc.

Other participants at the top billing entrepreneur enterprise included Gina Sheets, former official, US Department of Agriculture official and former state agriculture director for the then Indiana Governor Mike Pence; and Kaia Miller, founder of Aslan Global, a Boston-based consulting firm that is helping to advise developing economies on competitiveness and economic development was present. She serves on the President Kagame Advisory Council and is also former leader in Monitor Group’s Country Competitiveness Practice and Associate at Harvard University’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. She chairs the New England Board for the US Fund/UNICEF.

Others include Dano Jukanovich, co-founder and managing partner of Karisimbi Business Partners, a leading social impact consulting and private equity firms in East Africa, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger and senior intelligence officer; as well as Jennifer Jukanovich, who recently published her doctoral dissertation on Rwanda at Pepperdine University. She plays multiple leadership roles in Rwanda including communications director for a USAID project, founded a women’s business and a preschool, and served as a champion for orphan care. She is also a former Gordon College VP for Student Life.

The high-profile listing of topnotch entrepreneurs also included Dan Vogel, Director, North America, Boston Consulting Group’s Centre for Public Impact, who previously served as advisor to the founding CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, and worked at the White House as a policy/private sector specialist; Manny Ohonme, a Nigerian, founder and CEO of Samaritan’s Feet which has fulfilled its goal of distributing 10 million shoes to needy children and families. Manny is also the founder and CEO of World Shoe Inc.

Courtney Cash, president of the World Shoe Fund; social entrepreneurship professor at Berry College; founder of Simply Strategic and experience establishing sports programs to build hope and healthy relationships in more than 100 countries; and Emil Ekiyor, also a Nigerian, founder and CEO of InnoPower, providing services to build black entrepreneurial talent in the US and Africa, who played in the NFL for six seasons and formerly operated an import-export business between US and Sub-Saharan Africa were among the participants.

Other participants included Chuck Bentley, founder and CEO of Christian Economic Forum and CEO of Crown Financial Ministries; board member of Foundations for Farming providing leadership to expand the model across Africa; and Jay Hein, CEO of Sagamore Institute and Commonwealth Impact Investing; former director of White House Faith-Based and Community Initiatives where he began work in Rwanda; board member, Bridge2Rwanda.

Attending the forum with Mr. Cummings were: Cllr. Moriah Yeakula, Chief of Staff to Mr. Cummings and Mr. Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr., Head of the Policy Team.

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