A visiting two-man Bangladeshi business delegation has been urged to invest in Liberia, especially in the agriculture sector.
Welcoming the men to Liberia, Acting Foreign Minister B. Elias Shoniyin told the Bangladeshis that there is vast “untapped” opportunity in the nation’s fisheries sector.
“Our waters are basically untapped. We have a longer costal line than Ghana; however, Ghana raises about US$600 million per annum just from fisheries and we actually raise less than one million,” Mr. Shoniyin disclosed.
He said even though the Bangladeshis are in the country to explore investment opportunities, they also saw the need within the Foreign Ministry and decided to make the donations in those directions.
The Acting Foreign Min. further told Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Sakib M. Rahman, and his associate, Mr. R. B. Thakur, of the Agrani Holdings Group Limited, Dhaka, Bangladesh, that most of the fishing that is ongoing in Liberia is artisanal fishing, which is being done right along the main coast; adding:
“There is significant potential in the fishery industry.”
Touching on another potential business area, he told the Bangladeshis how Liberia used to be the largest producer of natural rubber in the 1970s before other countries took over that role. “What is happening currently, we have tremendous old rubber trees; there is business opportunity in them. People want to cut the old trees and plant new ones.” He further stated that the old rubber trees, which are all across the nation, are very good for furniture making or for biofuel production.
As he thanked the delegation for the donation of items, Mr. Shoniyin urged them to encourage other entrepreneurs to venture into furniture or biofuel business if they can’t do it themselves.
Also speaking, Mr. Sakib M. Rahman, head of the delegation, said that they have had separate investment discussions with authorities of the Ministries of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture and authorities at the National Investment Commission (NIC). They also visited the International Bank (IB) on Broad Street.
Mr. Rahman stated that at the Agriculture Ministry, authorities advised them that sugar was one of Liberia’s export commodities before the civil conflict; but is no longer the case as the world sugar market has now been overtaken by Brazil. “We talked about sugar cane, which is now largely grown in Liberia for domestic purposes but which can be processed into finished products like sugar. We will be exploring possibilities in the agricultural sector,” the head of the Bangladeshi business delegation said.
He also mentioned that they intend to have some of their finished products in chocolates and mango and also noted that in their discussions, the Minister of Agriculture did encourage them to consider including livestock in their plans.
Though the Bangladeshis are yet to meet with authorities of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Rahman stated that they also had discussions on the energy sector of Liberia. “I told the Minister that for all these things especially the livestock, we will need cold storage and it requires power,” he stated.
On the energy sector, he indicated their focus would be on the transmission system of the national grid and how much transmission wires can be installed throughout the nation. He added that they are looking into all of this so that they might just develop investment interest in this sector.
Mr. Rahman added: “Anything we will decide to do here [in Liberia], power is the first thing we need to look into.”
The Bangladeshis donated needed items, valued at US$70,000, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for use by the Bureau of Protocol.
The items presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included one mini-bus, four motorbikes with accessories, one modern printing machine and 15 pieces of video conference units.