Yechiel J.M. Leiter, JCPA Director General

Liberians Excited About JCPA – Liberia’s Growing Partnership

By Cholo Brooks

Yechiel J.M. Leiter, JCPA Director General

MONROVIA, LIBERIA– Liberians expressed excitement about the evolving partnership between the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Liberia – especially between the people of Israel and the people of Liberia.

Liberia was one of the United Nations member states to vote in favor of statehood for Israel on 29 November 1947. Israel’s first ambassador to Liberia was Ehud Avriel, who was accredited in 1957. In addition, Liberia and Israel share unbroken and unwavering historical ties and values with the United States.

JCPA’s director general, Dr. Yechiel J. M. Leiter, a specialist in political theory and economic development, was invited to Liberia to explore areas of opportunities and partnerships where the JCPA can assist the country in strategic policy development and programming to empower Liberia’s growth and prosperity by learning from the Israeli model.

Accordingly, Dr. Leiter’s visit is predicated upon the background of the JCPA’s vision to co-create a policy and framework for the implementation of a National Innovation Program in Liberia, which would serve as a template for similar programs in other West and Central African countries. This initiative will encourage structured program deployment to foster economic and social development in Liberia by implementing best practices from the State of Israel’s successful SME business development and innovation acceleration programs.

The National Innovation Program will represent a significant opportunity for Liberia to learn from Israel’s success in fostering a thriving innovation ecosystem. By adapting and applying Israel’s best practices, the proposed National Innovation Program will support the growth of SMEs, enhance local capacity in research and development and technology transfer, and contribute to the overall economic and social development of Liberia.

Dr. Yechiel J.M. Leiter, JCPA Director General with Commissioner General Robert Budy and Deputy Commissioner General Moses Yebleh of the Liberia Immigration Service(LIS) to brainstorm on cooperation and immigration workforce development on border security, technology security, and immigration capacity building.

The National Innovation Program will be implemented through a series of phased activities, including:

  1. Conducting an exploratory visit to Liberia to identify potential partners and assess the needs and opportunities for innovation and SME development.
  2. Establishing partnerships with Liberian research and policy institutes, public officials,

and business figures.

  • Developing a customized program based on Israel’s best practices, tailored to the

specific needs and context of Liberia.

  • Providing capacity building, training, and technical assistance to support the

implementation of the National Innovation Program.

  • Establishing innovation hubs and accelerators to catalyze the growth of SMEs and

start-ups.

  • Facilitating access to funding and resources for SMEs, including grants, loans, and

equity investments.

  • Promoting networking and collaboration among stakeholders, both within Liberia

and between Liberia and Israel.

According to Jones N. Williams, CEO of West Africa-based Equity LINK Capital, among the primary objectives of the National Innovation Program will be to:

  1. Foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Liberia, with a particular focus on SMEs.
  2. Build local capacity in research, development, and technology transfer.
  3. Facilitate access to funding and resources for SMEs and start-ups.
  4. Strengthen collaboration between public and private sectors and academic institutions in support of the innovation ecosystem.
  5. Promote knowledge transfer and best practices between Liberia and Israel.
  6. Assess the potential benefits of basing JCPA’s applied research initiatives in West Africa in Monrovia. (e.g., food and water security, ESG regulations and climate challenges, and innovative technologies for agricultural development).

While in Liberia, Dr. Leiter met with several Liberian officials and private sector leaders including Finance and Economic Development Minister Samuel D. Tweah and the President and CEO of the Africa Development Aid (ADA), Ambassador Wendell McIntosh to discuss Liberia’s agriculture and food security potential and how such potential could be actualized.

Recently, Liberia and its donor partners have been focused on developing the country’s agricultural sector to ensure a sustainable and inclusive food system.  According to the United Nations, agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050. Growth in the agriculture sector is two to four times more effective in raising incomes among the poorest compared to other sectors.  Agriculture is also crucial to economic growth: accounting for 4% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and in some least developing countries, it can account for more than 25% of GDP.

Speaking on the HOTT FM show, Dr. Leiter said, Liberia is like the “Garden of Eden” that must tap into its vast opportunities and blessings.  He indicated the JCPA’s desire and willingness to partner with Liberia and other West and Central African nations to overcome food insecurity and become the preferred destination for eco-tourism.

During and since his interview on HOTT FM, Liberians across all spectrums expressed relief and gained hope that finally an optimistic transformation for Liberia’s food security sector and social development is near sight.

The JCPA director general also met with the leadership of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) to discuss issues related to border security, technology security, and immigration workforce development for effective counter-terrorism and national security considering Liberia’s locational proximity to the Sahel region.

Defined as the ecoclimatic and biogeographic realm of transition between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south, the Sahel is a region in Africa that stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

According to numerous news reports and security research, the Sahel now accounts for 43 percent of the world’s terrorism deaths—more than South Asia and the MENA region combined. That percentage is on the rise.

According to GTI, two Sahel countries—Mali and Burkina Faso in West Africa—are among the world’s five countries most impacted by terrorism deaths.  With the daily vast influx of hundreds of migrants from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger in South-eastern Liberia without proper screening, identification, and verification, effective border and counter-terrorism measures by the Liberia Immigration Service, which has responsibility for border security, are necessary.

Over the past decade, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has become the Middle East’s trusted partner in Israel for security, applied diplomacy, and communication partnerships. As one of Israel’s oldest research institutes for regional security, foreign policy, and international law, the JCPA has parlayed its five-decade record of research excellence in actionable strategic policy initiatives across national and international security spectrum, including counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, and food and water security.

Since its historic hosting of five Arab policy institutes and 25 African counterparts in early 2023, JCPA is positioned to become a communications nerve center in Arabic, Farsi, and English, connecting peoples and decision-makers across the Middle East and Africa with counterparts in Israel and North America. This JCPA-powered direct dialogue between peoples, nations, and cultures seeks to transform the narrative of Israel and the Middle East, helping to pave a new path to greater security, stability, and understanding throughout the region.

Other prominent staffers at the JCPA include its current president, Dan Diker, a former Secretary G0eneral of the World Jewish Congress, Jason Greenblatt, a former Assistant to the U.S. President and Special Representative for International Negotiations (2017-2019), Ambassador Freddy Eytan who was Israel’s first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Brig.-Gen. (retired) Yossi Kuperwasser who was formerly Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, Yoni Ben Menachem, who was Director General of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Ambassador Alan Baker who served as Legal Adviser and Deputy Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Col. (retired) Dr. Jacques Neriah, who was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence, and Aviram Bellaishe served as an Israeli director in a regional initiative for business and economic cooperation dialogue in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa and is presently a member of the executive committee of MENA 2050.

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