Promises 50 fire trucks and buses; to offer US$2m as grant-in-aid for health and a convention center
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has joined President George Manneh Weah to ensure that the Liberian government’s ‘pro-poor agenda’ trickles down to the downtrodden who are in dire need of economic revival and has announced India’s willingness to revive allocation of a line of credit worth US$144 million.
The announcement was made by India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, M. J. Akbar, who led a four-member delegation to Liberia (March 1-2) in the first bilateral visit from the Indian side in the last two years.
Minister Akbar told President Weah that his country is committed to Liberia’s overall socioeconomic development and pointed out that India’s approach would be to respond to Liberia’s needs and will participate in the efforts and projects which are priorities of the Liberian people.
The Indian External Affairs also said India will donate 50 vehicles (passenger buses and fire engine vehicles) to augment the facilities of the National Transit Authority (NTA) and the Liberia National Fire Service.
This offer has come at an appropriate time as Monrovia has recently suffered three large-scale fire incidents that destroyed properties in the millions of US dollars.
Akbar added that his country is also willing to offer development assistance to Liberia in the tune of US$2 million as grant-in-aid for health sector projects, as well as supporting an educational project in Liberia, which will build a facility dedicated to computer literacy training and reading skills development.
It will also include livelihood skills training for mothers under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. He said India has decided to build a large convention center to be named after Mahatma Gandhi as part of its grant-in-aid programs.
Mahatma Gandhi was a prominent Indian political leader who campaigned for Indian independence. He employed non-violent principles and peaceful disobedience. He was assassinated in 1948, shortly after achieving his life goal of Indian independence. In India, he is known as ‘Father of the Nation.’
It was Gandhi who said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it-always.”
It is because of this that Minister Akbar said India has also offered to initiate discussions on sending teachers from his country to Liberian schools, and upgrading India’s Pan-Africa e-network project in Liberia, along with cooperating in IT, e-governance and health sectors.
The Indian minister also held extensive bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, and identified priority areas in capacity building/training programs for the Liberian government in areas such as health, education, IT and governance.
Among other issues, with the presence of several Liberian cabinet ministers were cooperation on UN Security Council reform and other UN-related matters, security cooperation, including combating threats from terrorism.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Findley hosted a reception for the visiting Indian officials and was attended by members of the Indian community, diplomatic corps and members of the international community.
Another dinner reception, hosted by the Indian Honorary Consul General of India for the visitors was attended by Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor and senior cabinet ministers.
According to a statement by the Honorary Consul General of India, Upjit Singh Sachdeva, the momentum of high-level bilateral visits between Liberia and India will continue in the coming weeks with the visit of Minister Findley to India to participate in the Founding Members Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) scheduled in New Delhi on March 11.
As a founding member, Liberia can benefit from clean-energy projects, which can be financed through a US$2 billion ISA fund set up by India.
During the Indian delegation’s visit, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee presented the key to the City of Monrovia to Minister Akbar as a special gesture.
India is one of Liberia’s strategic partners for development. While there is a sizable number of Indians doing business in the country, the country has made a pioneering and substantive contribution towards UN activities, particularly peacekeeping in Liberia.
It may be recalled that for the first time ever, India Female Formed Police Unit (FFPU) participated in peacekeeping duties under United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).