President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has emphasized the need for economically viable nations of the world and international organizations to assist Liberia and Africa to develop their infrastructures as a way of improving other aspects of the continent’s development.
She said if the people have infrastructure such as roads and basic social services such as electricity and water, this will give rise to the quality of life on the African continent and eventually improve other services like education, quality healthcare programs, and boost the agriculture sector of each country.
Madam Sirleaf said Africa’s potential for investment and growth is high, but emphasized that the continent needed strong assistance and collaboration from industrialized nations to realize its full potential.
According to a dispatch from the German Alps of Schloss Elmau, President Sirleaf, addressing the outreach meeting of the G7 nations’ 41st Summit stressed that the eradication of poverty on the African continent was also vital to help promote growth and sustainability, enhance productivity and create jobs for its citizens.
Investment in the continent’s youth is most important as the future of Africa is heavily reliant on its youthful population, but lagging behind due to the many constraints of neglect, conflict or poverty, she pointed out.
President Sirleaf noted that the African continent has made tremendous progress in the past two decades by laying the foundation for peace and security on the continent. Taking Liberia as an example, she indicated that 15 years ago the country exported child soldiers and refugees. “Today, it is a nation educating a new generation of children who never heard a gunshot and are looking towards a brighter future.”
In 20 years, Africa will be home to a youthful population of more than one billion people, with the greater majority of them less than 30 years old. ”This could be a demographic dividend which could be of benefit not only to Africa but to the world as a whole,” she said, adding, ”It could also be a time bomb, if we don’t arrive at a social order where inequalities are reduced; where we tackle the root causes of poverty that lead to desperation.”
The world cannot continue on the same path and at the same time expect that critical social, political and environmental issues confronting us all would just vanished, she cautioned. ”The new paradigm of development demands a shift in mindset and the way we conduct the affairs of our nations. Recognizing the universality of issues, such as inequalities, injustice, intolerance and marginalization constitute the first step to moving forward, in the right direction.”
President Sirleaf pointed out that the new political order has not been translated into economic dividend for the people of Africa, mostly the youth and the women. ”It is therefore important that creating a sustainable and peaceful social environment is directly linked to how these young people and women find their rightful place, with opportunities open to them.”
The 41st G7 Summit invited several African heads of state and government to participate in the outreach meeting. They included: President Sirleaf, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Senegal’s President and current ECOWAS chair Macky Sall, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, and Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi.
Other heads of global organizations who participated in the discussions included: the Chair of the African Union Commission (AUC), Madam Dlamini Zuma; International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder; Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde; Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), José Ángel Gurría; President of the World Bank (WB), Jim Kim; Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo; and the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon as well as the President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, among others.
The countries that make up the G-7 are France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Germany. They meet every year to discuss issues affecting the world. Russia, who is also a member, was suspended following the annexation of Crimea last year. The European Union has a membership to the G-7.
During their outreach meeting, the G7 leaders discussed a wide range of issues affecting Africa including the Ebola virus disease, terrorism, development, democratic governance, power (electricity), agriculture, among other pertinent issues.
Meanwhile on the sidelines of the G7 Summit, President Sirleaf held closed-door talks with German Chancelor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
She also held meetings with German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller; Executive Director HUMEDICA International Aid and former chairman of Mercy Ship-Germany Mr. Wolfgang Gross; and a member of Christian Democratic Union Party in the German Parliament, Thomas Stritzl.