Liberia's power need is huge, and, therefore, driving it into all directions, exploring mains that enable it to bang in expected results. It is perhaps against this backdrop that it had to seek assistance from India, an Asian Economic power. As The New Republic finds out, India has agreed to extend $144 million Line of Credit to Liberia.
Liberia is to benefit from the goodwill of the Indian government and people to cater to its energy sector which requires millions of dollars to resuscitate.
According to reports from India where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is presently visiting, the huge Asian nation has extended $144 million Line of Credit to Liberia to fund a power transmission and distribution project, also inking a key energy pact with the West African country.
The pacts were outcome of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Liberian leader. During the meeting, the two leaders exchanged views on international, regional and bilateral issues, including the India-Africa Forum Summit.
Liberia's energy sector is struggling to overcome the devastation endured during the course of the brutal conflict, when the only hydro and other power-producing facilities were destroyed by marauding rebels on both sides of the conflict.
The then supporting plant on the Bushrod Island still lies in ruins despite commitments from friendly nations to have it salvaged.
The Liberian government is providing minimal power to parts of Monrovia and other suburbs, with much more work to be done to connect the entire city and connect homes and businesses.
Before departing for India, the president toured facilities of the Liberia Electricity Corporation on the Bushrod Island and expressed indignation over management's inability to get electricity to the rest of the city.
During their talks, the Indian Prime Minister said: "We have decided to enhance our cooperation in a number of areas, including agricultural research, health, small and medium enterprises, science and technology, education and skill development."
"I requested President Sirleaf to facilitate Indian investment in agriculture, infrastructure, hydrocarbon, mining and manufacturing in line with Liberia's national development goals and policies," Singh said at a joint press event with the visiting dignitary.
Apart from Line of Credit and energy pacts, the two countries also signed agreement to set up a Joint Commission and an MoU between their foreign services institutes.
Singh also said the two countries have agreed to work together for the promotion of international peace and stability, particularly on the African continent, and to make common cause to ensure that global governance is just and meets the aspirations of the developing world.
There was also exchange of views on regional and global issues, including the urgent need for reform of the United Nations Security Council, Singh said, adding India deeply appreciates Liberia's support for its candidature as a permanent member of a reformed and expanded Security Council.
In the same vein, Liberia has invited Indian COS to invest in various sectors including infra, agriculture and minerals aimed at strengthening commercial ties between both the countries
"Liberia is open for providing a conducive business environment and welcomes you. So, we look forward to a partnership with you in several areas like infrastructure, mining, marine and rubber," the visiting President said here at an event organised jointly by Ficci, CII and Assocham.
"We will ensure that we will create an open and transparent environment which guarantee investors a good return on their investment, while respecting the rights and dignity of our citizens," Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, added.
Tourism is another area which has a huge potential but infrastructure is the major constraint to the sector's growth as there are inadequate number of roads, bridges, water and power distribution, said Sirleaf.
"Therefore, there is an urgent need to attract more investments in infrastructure as well as hospitality sectors to develop the country's tourism industry," she said.
India and Liberia share close and friendly relations. Liberia's rich natural resources and its programme in the areas of infrastructure and industrial development, provide opportunities for enhancement of trade and investment ties between the two countries.
"We have reserves of gold, diamonds, hydrocarbons, besides fertile land. Agriculture is our core strength and rubber is our traditional exports. I think there is a great potential in wood sector and its products and Indian companies can do value addition to this," Sirleaf said.
To attract more investments, she said: "We offer tax incentives and we are harmonising customs duties."
So far, Indian companies have invested about USD 189 million in Liberia.
As far the bilateral trade is concerned, India's major exports to Liberia include engineering items, pharmaceuticals, plastic and steel, while imports to India comprise metals, ore and scrap, gold and diamond.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 148 million in 2012-13.