GOL, TIDFORE Investment Company Sign Agreement for Steel Plant in Liberia

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Flashback: Program making official signing ceremony for the Agreement between the Government of Liberia and TIDFORE (Hong Kong) Investment (LICEMCO) for the Establishment of a Steel Plant in Liberia

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has witnessed the formal signing ceremony of the Agreement between the government of Liberia and TIDFORE (Hong Kong) Investment (LICEMCO) for the establishment of a steel plant in Liberia. The plant will transform raw iron ore and lamp stones into steel and cement.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf reflected on the history of Firestone and a number of iron ore mining companies that started investing in Liberia in the 1920s and 1950s and how they have not been able to add value to the raw materials from Liberia. She therefore indicated that the agreement with TIDFORE Investment was a realistic break from the past that will enhance Liberia’s efforts towards manufacturing and value addition.

The 200-million US dollar investment will ensure the utilization of iron ore for steel production for both national and international markets, provide jobs for over 1000 persons, improve revenue collection, reduce the cost of both steel products and cement as well as improve infrastructural development. The agreement also seeks to ensure that all unskilled jobs will be done by Liberians only in addition to a high number that will be required for skilled and professional jobs. TIDFORE will also provide and maintain modern public facilities within the project area in accordance with best practice, general acceptable procedures and environmental law.

The president commended members of the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee’s, led by the National Investment Commission, stringent 240-day negotiation processes with TIDFORE Group, the first ever concession to add more value to iron ore prior to today’s agreement. She, however, noted similarly that the TIDFORE Group’s negotiation with the government of Liberia will have a far-reaching impact on the production of steel, cement and manufacturing.

President Sirleaf informed the executives of TIDFORE that while on her recent tour to Bong County, some aggrieved citizens of the county in the China Union Concession area complained about a number of unfulfilled commitments by China Union which should be looked into by TIDFORE for redress.

Speaking earlier, the acting executive director of the National Investment Commission, George Wisner, termed the signing of the agreement with TIDFORE as the beginning of an investment incentive contract with TIDFORE intended to support the government’s efforts to deal with the structural defects of the Liberian economy and ensure a paradigm shift from an extractive based economy to a more diversified one through value addition.

He reiterated that the role of the National Investment Commission is to support government’s economic policies in three key areas, including investment promotion, investment facilitation and private sector development in Liberia.

A representative of TIDFORE Group for his part commended officials of the Liberian government who make up the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee for their 240 days of hard work that led to the agreement and the signing ceremony.

Also speaking, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue expressed delight over the signing of the agreement with TIDFORE Group and cautioned both parties not to jump to early celebrations over the agreement.

“I believe that the celebration should start when the project is in motion and not simply the signing ceremony. This agreement falls in two categories. Firstly, it is intended to facilitate the construction and operation of a 200 million (dollar) steel and cement plant that would transform one of Liberia’s major primary export commodities (iron ore) into finished product for both domestic and international markets,” he concluded.

The signing ceremony was attended by the chairperson of the House Committee on Concession and Investment, Rep. Zoe Emmanuel Pennoh; Senate committee chairperson on Lands, Mines and Energy, Senator Albert Chea; Senate committee chairperson on Investment and Concession, Senator Sando Johnson; Justice Minister, Frederick Cherue; Finance & Development Planning Minister, Boimah S. Kamara; acting Foreign Minister, Elias Shoniyin; Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe; Lands, Mines & Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo, among others.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. An Anonymous person once said, “National progress is the sum of individual industry, energy, and uprightness, as national decay is of individual idleness, selfishness, and vice.”

    This quote reminds me of the many, many, vices: immorality, selfishness, jealousy, wrongdoing, wickedness, corruption, misconduct, stealing, decadence, crime, ….etc….etc…that brought Liberia to the brim of destruction.

    How do we feel to witness China rise to economic power when less than forty years ago China was economically backward? Forty years ago, our individual purchasing power was greater than China. Now, we are looking up to China to rescue us from our evils. We need to seriously study the kind of mechanism the Chinese put in place over the last forty years that propelled them to economic success after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong and his failed economic policies.

    It took a visionary leader like Deng Xiaoping to change the failed economic policies of Mao Zedong. Deng Xiaoping implemented “China Modernization Policy”. He sent thousands and thousands of Chinese students to study abroad to gain an advanced western education. He once said, “When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself.” His farsightedness is evident today in China’s rapid transformation.

    Why don’t we do something similar (educating Liberians either sending thousands abroad or bringing in thousands of foreign educators) instead of always waiting for the Chinese to rebuild Liberia? Where was President Sirleaf when she worked in Tolbert’s government as Assistant Minister of Finance from 1973–74 and Minister of Finance from 1979–80?

    Is it now that President Sirleaf is reflecting on Liberia’s exploited mineral no-value-added years by saying, “Firestone and a number of iron ore mining companies that started investing in Liberia in the 1920s and 1950s and how they have not been able to add value to the raw materials from Liberia?” These are things (industrial growths) that should have been done a long time ago in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s that could have brought economic success and possibly could have prevented the war.

    The “Urgency for Success” should not blindfold us to settle for less. TIDFORE is a large multi-national company with operations in many countries but we should learn our lesson from China Union dishonesty. When there was an economic slump in the iron ore market, operations came to a standstill and many concession agreements were not honored.

    To undertake a massive venture like manufacturing steel domestically or manufacturing in general, Liberia needs to invest heavily in power plants around the country that will function 24/7 for 365 days or so.

    I leave with another word of wisdom from Deng Xiaoping, “Economic Reform is China’s second revolution.” Let Economic Reform be Liberia’s next revolution.”

    Welcome TIDFORE. We are watching you!

  2. Why the rush to sign agreements at the eleventh hour. Was sufficient due diligence done before putting pen to paper. We know of so many agreements signed by this government that has no worth beyond the paper on which it was signed.

    The Elenito agreement is a typical case in point. Despite warnings and calls from the public to refrain from signing the contract until sufficient due diligence had been done, President Sirleaf went ahead anyway to sign the agreement granting a bogus scrap dealing company mineral and mining rights to ore deposits in the Bea mountains.

    With just about five (5) months left in the tenure of this government, GOL should find itself instead preoccupied with preparations for the transition. The electoral process is in peril with an incompetent foreigner at the helm and from reliable reports, thousands of names have been omitted from the Voters roll drawing into question its credibility. Through it all President Sirleaf yet remains oblivious and is instead preoccupied with the signing of new concession agreements. Utterly strange yet not so strange indeed!

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