The Government of Liberia has described as ‘revolutionary’ in terms of creating a prosperous platform for jobs and infrastructural development, the US$2.5 billion “natural resources swap” agreement it signed with the China Roads and Bridges Corporation.
The resources-for-development agreement, says Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, is not a loan but an investment facility and financing framework entered into under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) commitment.
Under this arrangement, Liberia will exchange its natural resources of various sorts with China in return for long-term infrastructural development, job creation and a wide range of other vital interventions for the next five years by the Asian nation.
The deal is probably, arguably the most significant package coming out of the People’s Republic of China from the recent FOCAC summit in Beijing, as a result of the bilateral talks between Presidents George Weah and Xi Jinping, according to Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Tweah.
“Let’s get it clear; this is not money sitting down and available tomorrow morning. This is similar to what the Ghanaians see – the mineral resources swap; it’s an interesting money.”
Tweah then lamented that some developing countries have been trapped for the last 50 years in poverty despite the enormous resources they have but cannot still see many people have jobs.
“So, we think what this model does is that it monetizes future flows because, eventually, the future will arrive,” Tweah told journalists Tuesday at a special press conference at the Ministry of Information on gains coming out of the China visit.
The finance minister noted further that as a result of said agreement, Chinese companies with mining interests will come to Liberia and conduct feasibility studies on the exact value of Liberia’s resources and what such a deal means in practical terms.
He said a lot of work is going to happen over the next two years for vital infrastructural projects, including the building of a dam on the Saint Paul River which will provide sufficient electricity for the citizenry and could also be exported by the government.
It is hardly disputable that despite the abundance of natural resources, including minerals that Liberia has, the country has not thrived significantly in ventures that would take its population out of poverty and set the nation on par with other countries in the world experiencing economic and infrastructural success from the money they generate from their natural resources.
However, at some point in the 1970s, Liberia’s gross domestic product (GDP) was only second to Japan, leaving China behind with a wide disparity.
Nonetheless, China, forty years ago, sustainably kept its economic engine revving as the world’s fastest developing country that has now decided to help Africa, which is considered as the world’s fastest growing continent through different financing arrangements and ‘goodwill’ programs via its foreign policy.
The money is also expected to be a financing source for the Liberian government’s national development framework dubbed Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
The validation meeting of the PADP by major stakeholders takes place this Friday in Ganta, Nimba County.