14 January 2013

Liberia: As World Leaders Converge On Monrovia

Liberia's growing prominence in international affairs is once again illustrated by the country hosting the High Level Panel (HLP) Meeting on the Post Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will take place in Monrovia from January 30th to February 1, 2013. The Liberian leader President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has already began receiving eminent guests on behalf of government.

The head of Liberia's HLP Secretariat, Dr. Abdulai Dukule has told journalists that the theme of the meeting is National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity, and discussions will also focus on how economic growth can improve livelihood and well-being.

The HLP meeting in Monrovia is part of the ongoing discussions between members of the high level panel of eminent persons appointed by the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon to make recommendations on what global development framework should succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. The Three appointed eminent world leaders to co-chair the HLP during the UN General Assembly meeting last July are: President Ellen John Sirleaf of Liberia, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. These eminent persons will lead the charge to develop an achievable development framework to continue the poverty reduction process after 2015.

Indeed like the MDGs, the projected replacement document would address the issue of poverty reduction especially in developing countries most of whom in Africa South of the Sahara in the Southern hemisphere. Many economists view that the MDGs which centered around the achievement of eight key areas, namely agriculture and food security, universal primary education, gender equality and female empowerment, the reduction of infant and maternal mortality, eradication of deadly diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids pandemic, environmental sustainability, global partnership for development are all targeted towards poverty reduction with a view to bridge the wide poverty gap between developed and industrialized nation in the Northern hemisphere and developing countries in the Southern hemisphere.

What is interesting also is that discussions are already well underway on what will constitute the best framework in the interest of sustainable development. There are those who argue that the way forward will be to strengthen mechanisms for accountability and social equality. There are others who state that an effective way to reduce poverty and improve the quality of living standards that was not part of the MDGs is to develop the electricity and pipe-borne water potentials of a country, focus on road construction, to attract more foreign investment as well as to prioritize the development of communications.

The Monrovia HLP meeting is therefore very important as it puts this country in the spotlight as a successful post conflict fragile nation. Liberia gained several accolades last year for the positive pace of development, to the extent that this country improved its position on the indexes of Transparency International, MO Ibrahim Good Governance Index, strides made in the MDGs and accomplishments obtained from the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) Process especially improvements in the security and judiciary sector etc.

We hope that the positive development trend on which government has set this country will continue to yield fruits in the years ahead. Indeed billions of U.S dollars have been invested into the country especially in the mining and agricultural sectors since 2003. Liberia has equally benefitted from debts cancellations especially from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and some friendly western donor countries to the tune of nearly four billion dollars and the discovery of oil and gas is apt to accelerate economic growth. But such can only occur in an atmosphere of democracy, good governance and financial accountability.

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