— Ready to come back and contribute
The Government of Liberia and the Government of France, through its Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), have signed a new establishment agreement, known as the AFD Group, to improve and expand the partnership between the two countries.
Held yesterday on November 22, Liberia was represented by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, AFD Country Director Christophe Cottet, Proparco Country Representative Ange-Pascal KOUASSI, and Expertise France Regional Coordinator Alexander FOULON, signed in the presence of France Ambassador Michael ROUX.
The AFD group includes Agence Francaise de Development, which finances the public sector and NGOs; its subsidiary, Proparco, dedicated to private sector financing; and Expertise France, the technical cooperation agency.
This new establishment agreement updates a former document signed in 1981 and allows the AFD group to operate in Liberia as a duly recognized international institution in the country, five years after it resumed operations in 1981. It has since committed 58 million euros to Liberia’s development.
It also gave birth to a 1.2 million euro French government grant that will finance phase two of a scholarship program that will allow the second batch of forty Liberian youth to study at the Institut National Polytechnique Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivory Coast. Phase one of the project was implemented by AFD in 2018.
Speaking at the occasion, French Ambassador Michael Roux near Monrovia said these youth will join forty others who are now fluent in speaking French and remarkably successful in their different technical level studies, with some at the top of their classes and ready to come back to contribute to Liberia.
“Liberia is a country blessed with many natural resources, one of which is its people,” he said. “We are proud to contribute to the PAPD, the first pillar—power to the people and youth empowerment.”
Roux told the gathering that this was just one of the programs of the AFD, and there will be an extension of these agreements that will also include employment.
For his part, Proparco Country Representative Ange-Pascal Kouassi said it was a great privilege to be at the signing ceremony and thanked the Ministry of Finance for hosting the event.
He said that since the IMF credit facility program in 2019, Liberia has restored microeconomic stability, and this program will further create more stability for Liberia’s private sector.
Kouassi noted that his institution has provided over 3.5 billion euros to help Africa and has, over the past two years, invested 50 million euros in Liberia’s private sector, especially in the areas of financial services, energy, and agribusiness.
He thanked his partners for their endless efforts to develop the private sector of the country and committed his institution to continuous growth and development in Liberia.
Also speaking, AFD Country Director Christophe Cottet noted that the AFD has been operating in Liberia from Ghana, but the agreement will now allow it to operate separately in Liberia as an independent organization to implement French policies and solidarity.
He said since 2018, AFD has committed more than 43 million euros in grants, with most of this funding being directed toward supporting the development of youth.
Cottet indicated that this is a great partnership between Liberia and France and thanked the Liberian government for improving the lives of the people.
Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, for his part, stated that President George Weah has re-established relations with France, thanked the French government for direct support to the country's budget, and anticipates additional budgetary support.
He said with such momentum being observed between the two nations, there will be more growth in all sectors of the country, especially the improvement of the livelihood of young people.
Tweah indicated that young people are the future of the country but are faced with different challenges, and the AFD is contributing greatly to the development of the youth of Liberia.
He lauded the French Ambassador for the level of leadership he has provided since coming to Liberia, noting that big things have been happening under the watch of Roux.