The Ministry of Commerce and Industry MOCI), through its Rural Industrial Promotion Program for Economic Empowerment (RIPE) has disclosed the construction of a first modern textile center in Kolahun, Lofa County valued at US$231,000.
The project, entitled Lofa Weaving Center promotes the Ministry’s inclusive growth agenda and support the advancement of local production by fostering Small, Medium and Enterprise (SME) participation in cotton industries in Liberia.
Making the disclosure over the weekend at the Commerce Ministry, Ellen Pratt, Deputy Minister for Commerce and Industry and head of the industry department, said, “We are very excited to be at this juncture with a project that will have a positive impact on the Liberian textile sector.”
Minister Pratt said this is the first flagship project under the Liberian Innovative Fund for Empowerment (LIFE), which is designed to promote the industry.
“This center, which is a 3,000 square facility, will also include a weaving component, a tailoring shop, and various centers for the display of products, storage for products,” Minister Pratt said.
She further said the ministry is starting with Kolahun District, which is the seat of the weavers, with a plan to reach other counties across the country.
“This site is located at the intersection of three villages near Kolahun where most of the weavers are congregated and it’s on a 25 acre land. The project is on one acre of land while the additional 24 acres will be used for cotton farming. Hundreds of citizens are expected to benefit from the initiative when completed,” Minister Pratt said.
Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) Axel M. Addy praised the people of Lofa for their dedicated service. “Our visit to Vahun a little over a year and a half ago, for all of us on that trip, we left very inspired by the work of the Lofa people. When we got to Voinjama, the women had organized for us to meet with the weavers in Kolahun, which was marked by a display of what was produced,” he said.
Minister Addy said the development of the facility is a demonstration to promoting the expansion of Liberia’s signature textile, the “Lofa cloth” and will stimulate the development of the sector and contribute to meeting the growing demand of the Lofa cloth.
Mr. Manu Kamara, acting Deputy Minister for Small Business Administration (SBA), said the department will provide oversight of the program, including training the weavers, especially the women, which will add value to their products.
“We will also engage into promoting the products and ensure access to local and international markets. We will create linkages to ensure that the production meets the 25% SBA law of local procurement towards all Liberian businesses, including 5% for women owned businesses in Liberia,” Minister Kamara
Rep. Clarence Massaquoi said he was delighted about the new initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, particularly for the people he represents, which will be a success for the county and Liberia at large.
“This project is one of the many ways our people can be included in our economic growth. I am very sure that other districts and counties would have loved to have this opportunity. I know the level of impact this project will have on my people,” he said.
Rep. Massaquoi promised authorities at the ministry of the citizens’ commitment in supporting the project to ensure that it is realized as planned, adding, “We believe that there will be a challenge considering that we are starting the project during the rainy season.”
George Dunor, Superintendent of Lofa County, hailed authorities at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the offices of President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai for the efforts so far in ensuring that Lofa gets the first weaving center and bring empowerment to those in the county.
At the press briefing were Ms. Mary Kpoto of the Liberia Tailors Union, representative of P&R Contractors Incorporated, a Liberian contractor, as wll as other prominent citizens of Lofa County.