The Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Tiina Intelmann, has disclosed that utter reliance on foreign aid is a major problem affecting Liberia and many African countries.
Making the statement on May 8 in an interview ahead of the celebration of the European Union’s 60th anniversary, Ambassador Intelmann said contrary to European countries where citizens put together their resources from taxpayer-money to support other countries, the concept of relying on foreign aid is highly entrenched in many African countries, including Liberia.
“If you ask me about my view on Africa,” Ambassador Intelmann said, “I will tell you that the major problem is governance issue. We are working with the African Union to enhance good governance and they will not always rely on foreign aid.”
She said the EU is therefore investing in areas of peace building, security, infrastructure and youth empowerment that will create the condition for Liberia in particular and Africa in general to be more independent.
Ambassador Intelmann said: “Money used to facilitate development in Liberia and Africa comes from taxpayers’ salaries in European countries; and for us in Europe, we see African economic growth as significant that it cannot entirely depend on foreign aid.”
The percentage contributed by each EU member country varies, based on respective economic strength. British Ambassador David Belgrove, who participated in the interview, said 12% of British tax-payers’ salaries are used to fund European Union projects.
Giving a background to EU’s strength, the Ambassador said European countries were at war during World War II, but after some time they realized that war was not the best solution.
“We therefore moved to economic integration that unites us as countries, and it has made us stronger since we are able to combine our resources to support economic growth and peace in other countries of the world,” she said.
On EU-Africa relations, Ambassador Intelmann traced the connection to trade, migration and history, which she said have made Africa a major partner to the EU.
The Africa-EU Summit, scheduled for November this year, will highlight employment opportunities for African youth.
Ambassador Belgrove said the support to African countries is meant to provide opportunities for its people, mainly the youth to have the capacity since they are the future generation of the continent.
The celebration of European Day in Liberia will be characterized by a number of events, including film screenings and display of European and Liberian cultures.