Gd. Kru youths break grounds for US$3,000 intellectual center

A ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an intellectual center value more the US$3,000 has been held in Barclyville, Grand Kru County, southeast Liberia.

Under the banner Grand Kru County Intellectual Forum or “Ageewulu” in the local vernacular, it will be the first forum since the formation of the county in 1984.

Media consultant Mr. James Myking Suah, says in the local dialect, Ageewulu means "Come Let’s Talk", adding that it is intended to promote economic, social, political, sports, education, security and developmental issues concerning Grand Kru, Liberia and the world at large.

Mr. Suah continues that the forum invites relevant actors to discuss or explain their scope of operations in the county and to also speak on variety of issues. He says if completed, the center will have the capacity to host over 150 persons and will contain three offices, situated in Barclayville, Wapleken community.

He calls on well-meaning citizens of the county to provide moral and financial support to buttress the initiative embarked on by cross section of young people in Grand Kru.

Mr. Suah lauds Grand Kru County Superintendent Elizabeth Dempster and others that have identified with the forum financially.

Superintendent Dempster pledges her fullest support to ensure that the forum is erected up to standard.

“I am grateful that young people in my county today are thinking on holding discussions that will promote peace and development to move the county forward” she notes. Editing by Jonathan Browne

AfDB, IsDB sign 2bn deal

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have signed a landmark agreement to strengthen partnership at country level.

Both parties have agreed to jointly pull together the sum of US $2 billion over the next three years to finance projects in agriculture and food security, renewable energy, small and medium enterprises, and human development (health and education).

To realize the shared objective of the agreement, the IsDB and the Bank agreed to each contribute US $1 billion over three years for joint activities focusing on these priority areas and sectors.

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment and interest to build a stronger partnership with the Islamic Development Bank.

The IsDB will also engage with the Bank to implement the High 5s- the five areas in which the AfDB is focusing on to help accelerate Africa's economic transformation.

“Today’s meeting is about collaboration and partnership. AfDB and IsDB share common traits and the agreement we are signing is the highest with any development bank. We are very excited about the range of things we can do together and we are ready to work with you to move this movement,” Adesina said.

“We are going to work on a pipeline of projects in Africa stretching from agriculture to SMES, energy and human development. We need to create jobs for our women and youth.”

IsDB is among the largest contributors of co-financing to the Bank. The Bank and IsDB have co-financed projects valued at over US$ 2.5 billion for the period 2002—2016.

The AfDB has a country presence in 21 out of the 27 common member countries with IsDB. As part of the new agreement, AfDB and IsDB are to complement and make use of each other’s staff expertise at country-level.

The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Bandar Hajjar described the areas of partnership as crucial.“We look forward to working with the AfDB in moving SMEs towards industrialization, renewable energy and agriculture and food security. These areas will create jobs and lead to economic transformation and improve the lives of the people of Africa. SMEs can transform African economies from primary to industrial hubs,” Hajjar said.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is a multilateral development financing institution located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. IsDB was founded in 1973 during the first Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now called the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).-Press release

EU disburses US11.2m to Liberia

The European Union announced here Tuesday July 11, that it has disbursed EUR10 million about USD11.2 million to the Liberian Government to support its budget for 2017.

The EU said it had made the disbursement, which is the third payment under its budget support program to the Liberian government because it (Liberian Government) has made satisfactory progress in improving its public financial management.

The money, which was directly disbursed in to the government’s treasury account according Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, is towards specific targets relating to security and rule of law in line with the Agenda for Transformation, the country’s medium-term development strategy.

This disbursement follows two previous payment under the EU's budget support programme after a first payment of EUR 29.2 million (USD 33 million) in 2015 and EUR 16 million (USD 18 million) in 2016.

"The EU gives this 10 million euro expecting that the Government will use it to provide Liberians with the vital public services they deserve and it has committed to provide: health, education, security and rule of law. I encourage the Government to continue improving the management of public finances and fight against corruption. In particular, I applaud the operationalisation of four pilot county treasuries, the establishment of a Civilian Complaints Board for the police and immigration services and improved access to justice through magistrates' courts and county courts for cases related to sexual and gender based violence. I encourage Government and the Judiciary to continue their efforts to better plan procurement for entities in the security and rule of law sector and to ensure that spending takes place as planned," Ambassador Tiina Intelmann said.

The European Union withheld EUR 2 million due to the Government of Liberia's failure or partial failure to meet indicators related to the timely publication of procurement plans for the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary and spending less money than planned through entities in the security and rule of law sector.

The European Union's budget support programme for Liberia, known as a State-building Contract, was signed in May 2015. It was initially intended to support reforms in the security and rule of law sector in the context of the drawdown of the UNMIL peace-keeping mission. Due to the Ebola crisis, it was agreed with the Government of Liberia to modify the project so as to frontload much of the funds for the first payment in July 2015.

The State-building Contract has a total value of EUR 65 000 000 (USD 73 million) over three years. The EU contribution is allocated as follows:
EUR 62,000,000 – General budget support;
EUR 2,690,000 – EU contribution to Integrated Public Financial Management Reforms Programme, implemented through the World Bank;
EUR 300,000 – Technical assistance to build capacities within the Ministry of Finance in the implementation of the State Building Contract, implemented by the Overseas Development Institute.

The current disbursement of EUR 10 million is made up of two parts:

EUR 5 million is linked to four general conditions:
(i) satisfactory progress in the implementation the Agenda for Transformation;
(ii) implementation of a credible stability-oriented macro-economic policy;
(iii) satisfactory progress in the implementation of the Public Finance Management Reform Strategy; and
(iv) satisfactory progress with regard to the public availability of timely, comprehensive and sound budgetary information.
Payment of an additional EUR 5 million was triggered by the Government meeting the following performance indicators fully:
a) fiscal decentralisation implemented in four county treasuries;
b) Civilian Complaints Board established to strengthen the accountability and integrity of the Liberian security sector actors after UNMIL drawdown;
c) strengthened adjudication of sexual/gender-based violence as measured by an increased number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases tried in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe;
d) magistrate courts in Bong, Nimba and Lofa increased the share of cases disposed of leading to more timely justice in the region; and partially meeting indicators related to:
e) disbursement according to spending plans by spending entities in the security and rule of law sector as expression of the financial commitment of Government to Security and Rule of law sector reforms;
f) Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization, Drug Enforcement Agency, Liberia National Fire Service, Liberia National Police and Liberia National Police Training Academy published procurement plans in a timely manner for FY2015/2016 as an element to improved budget execution.

CSA official seeks support for early childhood education

The Director for Public Relations at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Moses Owen Browne, is calling on government to provide more support for early childhood education in Liberia. Serving as guest speaker at the formal closing of the Excellent Learning Foundation Academy (ELFA) in Monrovia over the weekend, Mr. Browne emphasizes that literacy for every child is a must in the country and needs urgent attention from government.

“It is proven that 90 percent f brain development happens before the age of five. Thousands of the children in Liberia today below age 5 and or above should be in school and learning. Sadly, this is notthe case for Liberia as over half of millions of our children are out of school”, he notes.

“I call on the Government of Liberia, the President; H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, national and international organizations to support with budgetary increment and join us raise awareness on early  childhood education and development. Liberia is going nowhere without quality education for its young population,” he continues.

Moses further stresses, “We have to double-up. We are in a major crisis and this emergency is education. We have limited time on our side. But, I believe we can make the difference through faith.”

He says it is disturbing to know that the country still has a large number of out-of-school children with an estimated 10-20 percent of children between the ages of 6-14 not enrolled in school, quoting statistics from the Ministry ofEducation.

Speaking on the topic: “Early Literacy: How Vital It Is To Our Recovery Process”, he says Liberia’s educational system is gradually improving after decades of uncivil conflict which led to the destruction of the  Country’s entire education sector.

“As a country, we are beginning to see wonderful improvements especially, with enrollment, retention and education infrastructure development however; funding for the sector has been very low something which has resulted to a weak system over the last decade.”

He urges parents to continue to support their children’s education, because education is the key to a world of possibility, saying, “With Education, you can open any closed door and overcome many challenges”, while encouraging students to take their learning very seriously.

World Bank Group seeks over $1 billion for women entrepreneurship

On the occasion of the G20 leaders’ summit, the World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that aims to enable more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship and help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets, and networks necessary to start and grow a business.

According to a dispatch, the United States initiated the idea for the facility and will serve as a founding member along with other donor countries.“This incredible facility will have a significant impact on women's economic development around the world,” United States President Donald Trump said. “It will help increase opportunities and economic growth while addressing unique barriers women entrepreneurs face. I am proud the United States is helping to lead support of this unprecedented initiative."

“Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieve the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it has been such a longstanding priority for us,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “This new facility offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness both the public and private sectors to open new doors of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms in developing countries around the globe.”

"‎Everyone benefits when women have the resources they need to participate fully in our economies and societies,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Our Government is determined to help women gain the tools they need to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders. This important investment will help women in developing countries to create jobs, build economies that work for everyone, and have a real and fair chance at success.”

“I am happy that this initiative for women presents real added value. I want to sincerely thank everyone who worked on it especially the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and Ivanka Trump and others. We can see from the example of this Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative that the G20 is not just a two-day Summit, but that the G20 is a process”, Chancellor Merkel of Germany said. “And I don’t have the slightest doubt that under the leadership of Jim Kim that these will be truly valuable and productive investments.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “Women’s active participation in society is one of the pillars of Abenomics. Women’s empowerment and leadership will diversify and revitalize organization and societies. This facility embodies such belief in developing countries, and is promising initiative to achieve society where women shine.”

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the first World Bank-led facility to advance women’s entrepreneurship at this scale, will work to enable more than $1 billion of financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries. The goal of the facility is to leverage donor grant funding – currently over US$325 million – to unlock more than $1 billion in IFI and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds, and other market actors.

The dispatch says the World Bank Group was invited by the United States and Germany to create the facility, given the Bank Group’s deep experience, track record, and strong learning and innovation agenda. The initiative received strong donor support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States, enabling the Bank Group to take the facility from concept to Board endorsement within the year of the German G20 presidency.

Women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges to financing, owning, and growing a business, including limited access to capital and technology, a lack of networks and knowledge resources, and legal and policy obstacles to business ownership and development.

One of the major constraints limiting female-led enterprises is access to financial services. Nearly 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out by financial institutions or are unable to receive financial services on adequate terms to meet their needs.


AfDB focuses on fashion industry in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is focusing on creating jobs for millions of women and youth in Africa. The AfDB has called for the empowerment of small and medium operators in the textiles, apparel and accessories sectors as a deliberate job creation strategy.

Recently, at the Small Business Indaba in Gauteng, South Africa, the AfDB main objective of the Small Business Indaba was to provide small, medium and micro- enterprises (SMMEs) with the tools and network to grow their manufacturing operations to the next level of innovation and job creation.

“Textile and clothing is the second largest sector in the developing world after agriculture. This sector is dominated by SMEs and holds the potential to create jobs for millions of women and youth across Africa,” Emanuela Gregorio, Gender Specialist at AfDB, said at the conference.

“The foundation of any long-lasting venture in Africa depends on the continuous empowerment of regional SMEs and young entrepreneurs. Governments, the private sector and international investors must consider Africa’s young people and SMEs central to the stability of their economies”, the AfDB official adds.

A large percentage of workers in the textile and clothing industry is made up of women. Because it is labor-intensive, it has great scope to offer employment and to transform the lives of many women and youth across Africa.

“In this context, we have developed a flagship initiative named Fashionomics to enable African women and youth operating in the textiles, apparel and accessories sector to develop and grow their businesses,” she noted.

The AfDB launched Fashionomics (the economics of fashion) initiative to increase Africa’s participation in the global textile industry supply chain. Fashionomics is an initiative to support the development of micro, small and medium- sized businesses (MSMEs) operating in the textile, apparel and accessories industry in Africa, with a focus on women and youth empowerment.

SMEs have the great potential of fuelling growth and spur job creation. Today, these small and growing businesses create around 80% of the region’s employment, establishing a new middle class and fuelling demand for new goods and services.

The Bank runs an SME programme designed to support micro, small and medium enterprises. The Bank is closely tracking its role in the continent’s inclusive development through its High-5 agenda (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa).--Press release

Cummings Foundation donates to J.J. Dossen

Cummings Africa Foundation or CAF has donated medical supplies worth US$100,000 to the J.J. Dossen Memorial referral hospital in Harper City, Maryland County - southeast Liberia.

The Foundation is owned by presidential hopeful and Standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings. The consignment includes gauzes, bandages, surgery beds, pampers, and respiratory tanks, among others.CAF country director Ms. Fatu Gbedema says the donation is in response to a request from the hospital authorities to Mr. Alexander B. Cummings during a recent visit to the county.

Receiving the consignment on behalf of the hospital, chief administrator Ms. Julian Natt Doe, lauded the Cummings Africa Foundation for the gesture and promised that they will be used for the intended purpose. She says the medical materials would serve the hospital for long period, because their expiry date is 2021.

Madam Doe continues that the hospital looks forward to more donations from CAF and other humanitarian organizations to enable the hospital adequately meet the health needs of patients.

CAF implemented 24 quick impact projects with 25 implementing partners in eighteen months, benefiting about 30,097 persons in the areas of Agriculture, Health, and Education at a cost of US$289,386.00.

The Foundation paid WAEC fees and provided tutorial support for 2,322 pupils from 21 schools across Maryland Country. It also established the Alexander B. Cummings, Jr. modern computer lab at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, among others.

For her part, Miss Maryland 2017 and Miss Liberia 2nd runner up Goretti L. Itoka, on behalf of young people in the county lauds CAF for the level of support brought to the county health system by the Cummings Africa Foundation, adding that it will enable the hospital to cater to more patients. However, she calls on the hospital authorities at the hospital to ensure that the donations are used for their intended purpose.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Global economic prospects to improve in 2015, but...

The World Bank Group’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) says following another disappointing year in 2014, developing countries should see an uptick in growth this year, boosted in part by soft oil prices, a stronger U.S. economy, continued low global interest rates, and receding domestic headwinds in several large emerging markets.

After growing by an estimated 2.6 percent in 2014, the global economy is projected to expand by 3 percent this year, 3.3 percent in 2016 and 3.2 percent in 2017, predicts the Bank’s twice-yearly flagship. 

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NPA generates US$26.5 Million

The Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Madam Matilda Parker, has disclosed here that in the midst of the Ebola outbreak, the National Port Authority generated US$26.9 Million in 2014.

Madam Parker has also projected that the nation’s four major ports will receive increase vessels by 2035. 

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Liberia, Guinean company sign $1.3bn deal

The National Investment Commission of Liberia along with the inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC) will today, Friday, January 23, 2015 sign a 25-year Infrastructure Development Agreement with the West Africa Exploration SA (WAE) Sable Mining for the transshipment of Guinean-based ore through Liberia.

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