Robert Abou Jaoude, one of Liberia's most leading foreign business tycoons, along with Loita Capital Partners International Group, had broken ground for Liberia's first modern retail shopping mall facility, known as Monrovia Mall.
The facility, estimated at US$48 million, is promoted by the West African Development Company (WADCO). WADCO is owned by Loita Capital Partners International and Era Trade Corporation.
With a group of renowned African experts (anchored by South African Design and Architecture) as the core technical team, the proposed project, when completed, promises to be an iconic piece in Liberia and one of the very best in West Africa.
The construction work for the Monrovia Mall facility, which started immediately after the groundbreaking ceremony, is expected to be finished over an eighteen-month period.
The proposed mall will be built on a total land area of 18,500 m2, of which 10,600 m2 will be developed in Phase 1 and apartments, a conference center, a casino, and a hotel in Phase 2.
D. Solomon Fyneah, in his welcome remarks and introduction of partners, stated that Abou Jaoude Liberian resident for 47 years, has always had the vision to build such a state-of-the-art infrastructure in Liberia since 2012.
According to him, Abou Jaoude was unable to carry out this project by himself, so, through the intervention of the almighty God, he was able to come across Loita Capital Partners International.
"Loita and Abou Jaoude found a strong partnership with the West African Development Company (WADCO), a company that owns the mall," he said.
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who performed the groundbreaking and unveiling of the project yesterday, November 16, on behalf of President George M. Weah, said the construction of the facility will grow the country’s economy.
She believes that the proposed project will be successful when completed.
With this project, Taylor said, especially under the leadership of President Weah, they are moving forward and getting better.
“As we come to do the ground breaking, this mall indeed will bring a new landscape to our city. Our children are excited, and this will be for all ages or genders, but know that the children will have a special time because there will be so much that will be happening there.”
According to her, this mandate is an opportunity not just for the CDC government but for Liberians. “It is a collaborative effort between the government and the business community to build the Liberia that we all want,” she said.
She used the occasion to thank Abou Jaoude, the Loita family, WADCO, and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) for ensuring that Liberian content was part of the project.
“We can no longer accept projects that are foreign-dominated. Our President has been clear that Liberians must take part in their economy, and the way to do it is to make sure that Liberians are hired,” she warned.
“I look forward to seeing this project in the next 18 months — and not just that, we want to call on Liberians to come and look at the process,” said Taylor. “There is 55 percent equity that is available; join. This is a very successful project for those who will contribute to it and work with those who will never be disappointed.”
Earlier in his overview, Loita's chief executive officer, Justin Ngwashi Chinyanta, told the gathering that the construction of the proposed Monrovia Mall project will have over two hundred shops.
Also on the supply side, Chinyanta said, the facility will present an opportunity for a cost-effective retail price structure on a share basis for businesses and commercial establishments.
He said, as a result, the mall will be the first of its kind in the country, with a total land area of 18,300 square meters. It is to be completed in two phases, namely, phase one, which will focus on the mall itself, and phase two, which will include a luxury hotel and seaside condominium resorts.
On the demand side, Chinyanta, who is also a partner in the project, said that a craving for quality retail that accommodates the entire family with quality daylong leisure and life achievement will be found at the mall.
Also speaking, Molewuleh B. Gray, Chairman of the National Investment Commission of Liberia, commended the sponsors of the project, Abi Jaoudi and the Loita Capital International Group, for the groundbreaking event.
He used the occasion to reiterate President George M. Weah’s message to the country and to the rest of the world that Liberia is ready for business.
“I cannot overemphasize the benefits that this project brings to the economy,” Gray said. “Certainly it is immense, from revenue generation to infrastructural development, trade facilitation, and job creation, among others.”
He believes that the project provides a safe, conducive, and welcoming shopping environment, and that city ordinances support this.
Gray calls on Liberians to use the mall project as a vehicle to attract other quality investors and affordable brands but also a Liberian brand, adding that “we want Liberian shops in the mall.”
For his part, Central Bank of Liberia Executive Governor J. Aloysious Tarlue said, “On behalf of the Board of Governors and management of the CBL, we were very excited for the landmark project.”
“We are here today to support all of our investors, and we are happy with the force from Loita and its partners that they can help them, but again, there are so many benefits from this project to Liberia, including job creation and significant infrastructural development. We also hope that Loita can expand its vehicle to other parts of Liberia because Monrovia is not Liberia.
The sod-cutting ceremony was attended by Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah; CBL Deputy Governor, Musa Dukuly; Member of the CBL Board of Governors, D. Sheba Brown; Chief Cyril Allen; Representative Frank Saah Foko; LRA Commissioner General, Thomas Doe-Nah; George Haddad; the South African Ambassador; Activa Insurance; MTN, India Embassy; and Ministry of Public Works, etc.
Other guests include the International Community, the Business community, the Diaspora community, Investors, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and other distinguished individuals.