Liberia: AfDB President Adesina Visits Liberia Today

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, will visit Liberia from Wednesday, July 24-26, 2019 at the invitation of President George Weah, a release issued on Tuesday said.

According to the itinerary of Dr. Adesina's visit, he will hold bilateral talks and join statesmen and other high-level dignitaries in celebrations to mark Liberia's 172nd Independence Day on July 26. He will also attend the official opening of new airport facilities at Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Harbel, Margibi County and the new government Ministerial complex in Monrovia.

"The Bank has been a strong and strategic partner for Liberia in the transport, energy and agriculture sectors, with a primary focus on road construction, electricity generation and distribution and improving food and nutrition security," Adesina said.

The AFDB said it recognizes the need for continued support to Liberia and is committed to assisting the nation work through its challenges. In particular, it will assist the government in economic policy initiatives and in providing technical advice to the leadership.

In Liberia, for example, the Bank is currently financing three energy operations, and a fourth project scheduled for board presentation in September this year, all aimed at addressing the severe power shortage and the high cost of electricity in the country. An additional operation is in the pipeline for 2021, the Bank's statement said.

The West Africa Power Pool (Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- CLSG) interconnection is to provide a 1,360 km of high voltage transmission line to enable Cote d'Ivoire to export 400MW of power to the other three Mano River Union (MRU) member states (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea). The CLSG Rural Electrification is intended to electrify about 130 communities located along the CLSG interconnection power line, and supply electric power to schools, health centers, small handicrafts, commercial and industrial businesses.

The Liberia Energy Efficiency and Access Project (LEEAP) project is for the construction of 46.1 km transmission line and 280 km of distribution lines in the corridors of the RIA and Pleebo-Fish Town in River Gee County, respectively. About 200,000 persons living in communities along the project area, including schools, and health centers are expected to benefit from the connection.

Accordingly, the bank is currently financing three operations in the road transport sector and indicatively would consider two more, AfDB says. Of the three operations ongoing, the first is the project to pave the Fish Town to Harper Road, upgrading a total of 50km of road from gravel to bitumen standard between the towns of Harper to Karloken, and an additional 80km section of road maintained from Karloken to Fish Town. The second project is the MRU Road Development and Transport Facilitation Program Phase 1 to upgrade a total of 80km from gravel to bitumen standard from Karloken to Fish Town, including Harper Junction - Cavalla Customs (16km) and the construction of a bridge over the Cavalla River. The third project is the MRU Phase 2 approved in 2018, which will upgrade a total of 67.1km from gravel to pavement surface from Fish Town to Kelipo (20 km) and Sanniquellie to Loguatuo (47.1 km).

Also, the Bank has financed a number of operations aimed at improving people's lives in Liberia. These include the Ebola Fight Back Budget Support Program approved in 2014, the Economic Governance and Competitiveness Budget Support Project (EGCSP) approved in 2018, the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project (IPFMRP): Phase II approved in 2017; the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Program (YEEP) approved in 2016. "Implementation of these operations is on-going and progressing well," the Bank says.

In 2018, the AfDB Board approved a US$20 million (UA14.4 million) Trade Finance Package for three Liberian commercial banks. The facility will provide liquidity support to Liberian SMEs; and guarantees to enable international banks to provide clean confirmation lines for Liberian SMEs trade finance needs. These facilities are currently under negotiation.

In the Agriculture and forestry Sector, the Bank is financing three operations: The Smallholder Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization (SAPEC), a study to identify areas of need in the Agricultural value chain and a Support to the Forestry Authority to Scale up the participation of SMEs in secondary wood processing. The SAPEC Project, which is co-financed with the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), is on-going despite having suffered from start-up delays and negatively impacted by the Ebola Crisis. To date, according to the Bank, the SAPEC project has amongst others: (i) reached 22,380 farming households (30% of them headed by females) with advisory services on the use of improved rice seeds and cassava cultivar varieties; (ii) registered 321,766 farmers across the 15 counties of Liberia on the E-Platform for effective agro-input distribution, and (iii) 58 students have been trained at bachelors and graduate levels in agriculture with 51 graduated already from 9 universities. Within the framework of a Special Economic Zone, the bank is preparing financing for a Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) scheduled for Board approval in 2020.

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