The Analyst (Monrovia)

18 January 2013

Liberia: World Leaders Converge in Monrovia - Pres. Sirleaf Co-Chairs With British, Indonesian Leaders, Others

Liberia has truly risen from the dustbin of international isolation where it wallowed for decades. The country which had been a no-go area and a problem child of the international community is now taking its rightful place, attracting every known world leader and high profile international assemblies in search of global solution to global problems. For the second time in three years, the country is once against playing host to a huge number of distinguished personalities. The Analyst reports.

Information Minister Lewis Brown broke the news during a press conference, indicating that at the end of the month Liberia will be hosting a major international conference. Bringing a high level panel Meeting on Millennium Development Goals (HLP), the forum would be the first of its kind since the International Woman's Colloquium, which took place in 2009.

The High Level Panel was established in July 2012 by the United Nations Secretary General who appointed 27 Eminent Persons to consult and advise on the development goals the world will set itself after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a co-chair of the Panel, along with the British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. The upcoming meeting in Monrovia will be the third of four such meetings.

The main focus of the conference, according to Minister Brown, will be the global development agenda, but there will also be discussions with foreign investors on the opportunities and prospects for investment in Liberia.

"The fact that such a globally significant meeting is being held in Liberia is recognition of the huge progress we have made over the past 10 years," he said. "Liberia is now seen by the international community as a country making progress and a country to invest in."

He noted that as one of the co-chairs of the Panel, President Johnson-Sirleaf is having a direct impact on the development priorities the world sets itself, adding, "She is ensuring that the priorities of Africa and Africans are properly reflected."

The general theme of the conference is "putting in the national building blocks for sustained prosperity so that Africa can stand on its own feet and a key focus is economic transformation," Minster Brown said. "We already focused on economic transformation in Liberia and how we can reduce our dependence on foreign aid. We have launched our Agenda for Transformation for the period 2012-17, which gives us a head start."

According to him, the high level meeting shows that the government's focus on economic transformation is bearing fruit for the people of Liberia.

"We have rehabilitated over 800 km of road in the past two years with a further 800 km planned for the next three. This is bringing communities together, helping farmers get their food to market, students get to school and health workers to rural areas," Mr. Brown asserted.

"We are building a new electricity grid that by 2015 will bring electricity to ten times as many properties in Monrovia as now, as well as homes and business in rural areas. Electricity means businesses can stay open later without having to worry about the costs of fuel for the generators. Electricity will create jobs, allow our children to read and study at night, and make our communities safer."

Minister Brown: "We are rebuilding our ports so as to welcome bigger ships that will load and unload their cargo quickly and efficiently. This will allow us to trade more and encourage foreign investment. We are also restoring the ferry to Harper as part of our commitment to bringing the nation together.

"These developments are among the building blocks of sustained prosperity. They will allow us to grow our economy, attract foreign investment and reduce our dependence on foreign aid. They will help us improve the lives of Liberians."

By selecting Liberia to host the High Level Panel, he said, the international community has recognised this progress.

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