President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has extolled the African Development Bank for its continued support towards Liberia’s development aspirations while acknowledging that the country has since the 1960 been a key beneficiary of the bank’s assistance.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the remarks at a Joint Press Conference held in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, March 11, 2016 with the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who was on an official visit to the Liberia.
President Sirleaf said despite the decline that has hit the rubber and iron ore sectors, the people of Liberia remain extremely grateful to the Bank for helping to foster the country’s economic transformation. She then commanded the delegation of the African Development Bank for their timely visit to Liberia. She however pointed out that the nation is heading in the direction of structural transformation. President Sirleaf paid tribute to the remarkable work done by of Dr. Adesina as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture prior to ascending to the AfBD’s highest office and noted she was proud of such patriotic record to his homeland.
The Liberian leader recalled that Liberia was a founding member of the Bank, an organization which was founded in 60s. She said with what is now going on in the rubber and iron ore sectors, Liberia needs economic diversification that is similar to what Dr Adesina did when he served as the Minister of Agriculture in his native Nigeria. She said Dr. Adesina’s arrival in the country over the past two days provided a great deal of learning opportunity for her leadership in spite of so short a period of time.
“I want to say thank you for the support Liberia received from the AfDB, during the height of the Ebola crisis” she said. Liberia, President Sirleaf asserted that Liberia has for too long depended on the iron ore and rubber sectors, but emphasized – now is the time for diversification of other productive investment potentials. “We are going to put ourselves to work, as we know that primary responsibility rests on us” President Sirleaf told the news conference.
Also speaking, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, commended President Sirleaf for her earnest and outstanding work and termed her as a “Jewel” to Africa and a “Working President”, whom according to Dr. Adesina, the African Development Bank would support tremendously to enable her administration achieve its development agenda. Dr. Adesina said under the leadership of President Sirleaf Liberia is experiencing political stability something he said is laudable.
The AfDB Chief Executive praised Liberia for being the first to defeat the deadly Ebola virus, before Guinea and Sierra Leone. He pledged the Bank’s commitment to support the energy and agriculture sectors of Liberia, which will be followed by the launch of what he called the “New Deal of Energy for Africa.” He spoke about the Bank’s plan to invest in the social development sector in Liberia to deal with backlog of challenges, which emanated from the Ebola outbreak.
He noted that Liberia is so blessed with vast landscape, forest and running rivers and streams, adding the country was sitting on a boom of a “Big Bread Basket.”
He said as Africa’s first female democratically elected President, his administration will do everything for the government for President Sirleaf to succeed, which will be manifested by the support the bank will provide. He noted that currently, the bank is funding 17 different activities in Liberia in energy, infrastructure, transport, water and sanitation sectors; the bank remains very pride of Liberia. He said the African Development Bank will continue to support renewable energy as well.
Dr. Adesina assured that the African Development Bank will ensure maximum support to President Sirleaf’s administration is unhindered. He said looking at Liberia’s agricultural sector, the country should has the potential for a very big bread basket – whether it is in the cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm industries. He called for value addition in the cassava and rice as well as other locally produced food.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Government of Liberia, on Wednesday, March 10th, 2016, hosted a reception dinner at the Bella Casa Hotel in Monrovia in honor of the visiting African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina and delegation.