-As EU provides initial funding of US$6.87M
The Government of Liberia (GoL) and the European Union (EU) on Thursday, October 25, signed the financing agreements to rehabilitate 47 kilometers of the road between Sanniquellie and Loguatuo with asphalt at the Ivorian border in Nimba County.
The road, according to the EU head of delegation to Liberia, Madam Hélène Cavé, will connect Liberia to La Côte d’Ivoire, in order to facilitate and improve the living conditions and the well-being of the residents. The project, accordingly, will include the construction of a one-stop Border Post at Loguatuo to enable authorities to monitor imports and exports.
She said the initial funding is EUR 6 million (equivalent to US$6.87M) and is expected to be implemented within 48 months, while the EU regional envelope for West Africa also allocated EUR 14.2 million to the project. Amb. Cavé further said the European Investment Bank (EIB) is also expected to contribute EUR 17 million.
She said Liberia has approximately 500 km of asphalted roads, most of which were recently upgraded with co-funding from the EU. Of the international connecting roads, only the road to Sierra Leone is asphalted on the Liberian side. All other international links are gravel roads that need to be improved.
Amb. Cave also noted that this section, which links to Côte d’Ivoire, is the only remaining non-asphalted section of the West African Highway linking Nouakchott-Dakar-Lagos and is part of the ECOWAS and Mano River Union (MRU) regional corridor.
“This is a vital contribution to a project costing in excess of EUR 52 million. I am proud that, with an effort spanning several years, my team has been able to achieve and leverage significant additional loans, convincing the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank to partner in this initiative, which will dramatically improve regional connectivity, trade, electricity transmission and, last but not least, the well-being of women, men and children living in the area,” said Madam Cavé.
She said this latest support from the EU is part of a broader development portfolio for Liberia in support of the achievement of Government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, especially Pillar Two, which focuses on improving the economy and job sector through investment in infrastructure development.
“We hope that this would also allow the Liberian private sector to take full opportunity to penetrate other regional markets. It is also crucial that the government ensures that the private sector can blossom by enabling favorable private sector policies. I hope young people, who represent more than half of the Liberian population, will benefit from the jobs that come with roads construction and maintenance. Let me once again mention that gender mainstreaming is crucial to any sustainable development and we look forward to having a balanced gender representation in the range of jobs created,” she said.
Madam Cavé said the need for roads in Liberia cannot be overemphasized, because most farm products cannot be transported and most basic services cannot be delivered when roads are in bad condition (or no roads at all). Roads infrastructure, according to Cavé, is one of the highest priorities of the government, championed by President Weah, “and this project will make a significant contribution to the Government’s pro-poor agenda for accessibility, service delivery, and sustainable development.”
Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, speaking at the signing ceremony, extended President Weah and the people of Liberia’s gratitude to the EU for its ongoing and continued support to the Liberian government in actualizing its development agenda.
Minister Tweah told the EU delegation that Liberia will get better through a robust domestic resource mobilization, where the Government of Liberia will take aggressive steps to grow revenue. “We also have to make road development work better for the private sector in terms of growth and development,” he said.
Tweah described EU’s gesture as a milestone towards monitoring cross-border trade flows and capturing the maximum share of revenues from road development works across the country.
He indicated that it was in the right direction to generate revenues through the one-stop shop so that the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development can deliver its objectives to the Liberian people.
Minister Tweah reaffirmed the government’s commitment to meeting its share in all of these obligations. He further indicated that the government was working and ensuring that its partners realize the dividends of development initiatives, assuring government’s resolve to reduce poverty through the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
He further disclosed that the World Bank has agreed to scale up and bring one hundred million youths’ money to the President’s broad agenda. “The idea of our road program is to ensure that roads generate an economic and social rate of return,” said Minister Tweah.
He used the occasion to convey President Weah’s request to the European Commission and other development partners to shorten the implementation cycle, especially in the execution of critical development projects, describing road construction as a national development aspiration of the government.
He said the government of President George Weah remains committed to improving the country’s road infrastructure and, therefore, looks up to the European Commission, the World Bank, and other partners to scale-up the financing for road development in Liberia.