Since the inception of this government, Liberia has successfully played host to throngs of US government officials either from the Executive or Legislative Branches who engaged the government on lots of issues including governance and the state of US-Liberia ties which date back to hundred years plus. At the end of such visits, the questions that propped up concerned the next course of actions, and at the end of the marathon visit by high-powered Congressional Delegation the same question of "what next" resonates.
Following two days of hectic interactions with Liberian government officials including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf coupled with few field trips and discussions with locals, two US Congressional Delegations have concluded visit to Liberia.
The delegation which comprised seven senators and headed by Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Senator Christopher Coons (Delaware) arrived in Liberia on August 26 2013.
During these discussions, they reviewed U.S. foreign policy priorities in Africa, including good governance, regional security, health, food security, trade and economic development, including ensuring Liberia has policies that support increased energy generation and distribution.
During his trip to Africa two months ago, President Barack Obama announced a new energy imitative to Africa of which Liberia is listed as one of the beneficiaries.
Importantly perhaps to the significance America attaches to Liberia, the delegations were joined by the leadership from the Board and other executives of the ONE Campaign, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, and former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. ONE is an international, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group which fights extreme poverty and preventable disease globally, and especially in Africa.
ONE was co-founded by Bono, Jamie Drummond, and others, as well as eleven charity organizations, and to date, there are several corporate sponsors and leaders from the private and entertainment sectors who support ONE's efforts.
America has made significant contributions to Liberia's post-conflict development drives, and as such the group visited U.S. government-funded institutions and projects that are experiencing challenges.
One of those areas is the foremost referral John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital where they held talks with Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Gwenigale and Hospital Medical Director Dr. Wvannie Scott-McDonald.
During the discussions which was attended by other senior health professionals and visiting doctors, the group highlighted Liberia's progress, with the assistance of the Global Fund and USAID in combating malaria, reducing infant mortality rates, and lowering morbidity and mortality due to HIV.
Not only that, they visited the LEC Bushrod Island Power Generation Facility the Minister of Lands, Mines, Energy Mr. Patrick Sendolo and LEC senior staff presented an energy sector overview, underscoring USAID's contributions.
They also outlined key challenges, including the need for a world-class investment framework to attract additional investment in the energy sector to boost economic growth, a prerequisite for pursuing President Obama's "Power Africa" Initiative, in which Liberia has been identified as a target country for the initial round;
In Bensonville, one of the areas they stopped, the senators and the ONE delegation were impressed by the enterprising agricultural initiatives demonstrated by young leaders, single mothers and other workers who were victims of Liberia's civil war.
Members have formed the CYNP - Community Youth Network Program, founded by ex-combatant Junior Toe to benefit the Bensonville community and with potential for replication on a wider national level.
They also visited the New Generation Women's Project in Clay-Ashland, Montserrado County where Senator Coons lauded the achievements of 75 women who formed a cooperative farming enterprise for cassava, peanuts and corn, given technical support by USAID's Feed the Future and Food and Enterprise Development Program and US corporate funding.
Senator Graham's Delegation included five other Senators: Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Mike Johanns of Nebraska, as well as their spouses, and Mrs. Cindy McCain, the spouse of Senator John McCain of Arizona. The Graham delegation and ONE departed Liberia on August 27 and the Coons Delegation left two days later.
Liberia-America enjoys traditionally bonded ties of friendship and solidarity and Liberians regard America as their mentor in the political administration of their country.
What have delegations found out and are likely to report back to the US Congress is the question as tension continues to rise amongst Liberians over the government's handling of the state of affairs where hardship reigns., poverty seems to be taking control of everyone and where corruption has once again regained its lost strength.
Liberians believe that America and its leadership can stand up to the Liberian government, prevail on them to change course on a number of issues that threaten the stability of the state and the welfare of all Liberians.