29 January 2013

Liberia: UN High Level Panel Meeting Opens in Monrovia

A UN High Level Panel (HLP) meeting on the Millennium Development Challenges officially opens today, Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in Monrovia, the Liberian Capital. Liberia is hosting this major international conference, the first of its kind since the International Woman's Colloquium, which took place in 2009.

The High Level Panel Meeting, which brings senior world figures to Liberia, is the third of four such meetings. The High Level Panel was established in July 2012 by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He appointed 27 eminent persons to consult and advise on the development goals the world will set itself after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a co-chair of the panel, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. The main focus of the conference, according a Liberian government statement, 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. Liberia is now seen by the international community as a country making progress and a country to invest in," the statement pointed out.

As one of the co-chairs of the panel, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is having a direct impact on the development priorities the world sets itself. She is ensuring that the priorities of Africa and Africans are reflected. The general theme is putting in the national building blocks for sustained prosperity so that Africa can stand on its feet. A key focus is economic transformation.

"We already focused on economic transformation in Liberia and how we can reduce dependence on foreign aid. We have launched our Agenda for Transformation for the period 2012-2017, which gives us a head start," the statement further pointed out. The government's focus on economic transformation, the statement asserted, is bearing fruit for the people of Liberia.

"We have rehabilitated over 800km of road in the past two years with a further 800km 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," the statement further 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 of 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".

"We are building 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," the statement disclosed.

These developments, the statement averred, are among the building blocks to 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 nation together. By selecting Liberia to host the High Level Panel, the international community has recognized the progress," the statement added.

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