Weah Highlights Development Setbacks -Seeks End to Russia-Ukraine Crisis at IDA Summit

MONROVIA – The last three years have witnessed intense socioeconomic and political turmoil around the world, disrupting normal way of life, causing untold death, hardship, including hunger and worsening poverty, particularly in development countries. Concurrently, the sane segment of the human race have preoccupied themselves with ways and means to end the turmoil and develop resilience against the impacts. It is against this apparent backdrop that the World Bank and the Government of Senegal on Thursday assembled stakeholders, including world leaders and civil society in the capital Dakar, under the banner of the International Development Association (IDA) to share notes and perspectives. Liberia’s George Manneh Weah was at the summit and contributed his honest counsel on how to tackle the biting global challenges. The Analyst reports. 

President George Manneh Weah has highlighted a chain of setbacks to the developmental aspirations of the African continent. He named the lingering impact of the Ebola Crisis in the Mano River Union Sub-region and the unprecedented and brutal negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the current compounding ripple effects of the Russia–Ukraine war as the unfortunate linchpin disrupting economic activities, peace and development.

Given the podium to share his thoughts on the ongoing global crises, President Weah urged his fellow African leaders meeting in Dakar, Senegal to focus on finding solution to bring to an end otherwise their presence will be undermined and rendered meaningless.

President Weah said African leaders have learned that every such crisis brings in its wake immediate losses that must be addressed through appropriate policy interventions, with focus being the mitigation of the long-term costs of disruptions on the individual economies of African countries.

He warned that “during our deliberations at this forum, we should take into consideration the situation in Ukraine, or our efforts here will be undermined and rendered meaningless in the face of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.”

It is no secret, he added, that this war is having devastating effects on the global economy. If stronger economies are being affected, there will be no guarantee for weaker economies like ours that are already under stress.

“It means that in order to achieve our target, we must join efforts in finding a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis,” President Weah stressed. “As long as there is war in Ukraine, with the associated socio-economic and political implications, our peace, growth, and development will be negatively impacted, because instability and insecurity are not partners of development.”

He noted that in addition to the lingering impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease, COVID-19 Pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, the Mano River Union sub-region is facing a complex situation of providing commodities that are imported, adding that challenge of the sub-region is to identify the appropriate policy nexus to deal with this erupting situation.

He told the summit that Liberia has an economy that is dependent upon food and oil imports, and is currently faced with rising prices of commodities as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“The rise in the cost of oil will have a severe adverse impact on the environment, as people will seek alternative means for energy. The longer the war in Ukraine persists, the more the environment will be affected,” he said.

While pledging Liberia’s commitment to the ideas and programs inscribed in the Abidjan Declaration of the IDA for Africa 2021 Summit and assuring of being fully supportive of its implementation between now and 2025, the President hailed the important works being done by the World Bank Group’s International Development Action in supporting the country’s efforts to combat Ebola, COVID-19, and other pandemics that have afflicted African countries and negatively impacted their economies.

He asserted that Liberia’s transformational policy during the replenishment period which will focus on health, education, agriculture, digital economy, youth and women empowerment, roads and ports, energy and gender, saying that these sectors are cardinal to the national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, which is a phased 5-year national program that runs from 2018 to 2023.

Making specific references to the various sectors of the economy, he said with respect to the health sector, his government efficiently utilized the experience gained in combating Ebola in the fight to control and eliminate COVID-19, and are improving on a number of programs in readiness for future pandemics; as well as improving the healthcare delivery system.

“We have also increased access to school-based services, by the provision of nutritional packages for students and building the capacity of teachers, as well as by the establishment of centers to enhance research,” the Liberian leader said further at the summit. “Creating the environment for the implementation of the Food Safety Act, the Fertilizer Act, and validating the Rice Development Act are some of the measures that my Government is implementing to ensure food production and security.”

On the economic front, President Weah indicated that the promotion of electronic payments and digitization of the Liberian economy, in collaboration with some of our key development partners, is an urgent and paramount imperative. Also, increasing credit to the private sector, and ensuring the stability of the financial system, are necessary initiatives that are well underway.

He said being mindful that infrastructure is the bedrock for national development, his administration is  keen on road connectivity throughout the country, which will facilitate easy movement and access to commodities and services; as well as the development and upgrading of seaports and airports. “We are also focused on increasing electricity generation, transmission, and distribution both in the urban and rural areas.

“Liberia is on record for respecting and promoting gender equality. Our women are being given equal opportunity to participate in all sectors of society; ranging from politics, religion, medical, education, military, para-military, entrepreneurship,, and other technical sectors. Increasing the number of women in employment and services is at the core of our gender and development program”, he said.

Concluding his speech the Liberian leader said it is hoped that the IDA’s objective will place Africa in a place of honor and that the plan should aim at pulling Africa out of the current dependency syndrome. “Together with you, our development partners, we should aspire for sustainable development and robust capacity-building.  Our economies should be diversified to promote genuine people-centered policies that are based on the principles of good governance, transparency, and equality”, he said.

This year’s summit is being held against the backdrop of after advocating for an ambitious 20th replenishment of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA20) at their Heads of State Summit in Abidjan in July 2021 and it is expected that call for a strong start to the implementation of IDA20 focused on a robust and resilient recovery for Africa will be emphasized.

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