The Governments of Liberia and Japan have signed a Non-Project Grant Aid valued at US$4.2 million for economic and social development at a ceremony held yesterday, in the conference room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Acting Foreign Minister Elias Shoniyin signed on behalf of the Government of Liberia, while Ambassador Kaoru Yoshimura signed on behalf of the Japanese Government.
Minister Shoniyin noted that Japan has extended not only to Liberia, but to the entire African region, significant development assistance under the JICA arrangement.
Under the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) arrangement Liberia and Japan set the agenda of engagements for five year periods, one of which is manifested in the Non-Project Grant Aid.
"Beyond that, Japan-Liberia relationship has seen significant intervention in Liberia in the provision of different forms of social services within the context of Liberia's agenda for transformation and vision 2030 national program," Minister Shoniyin said.
The Acting Foreign Minister recounted some of the Japanese funded projects in Liberia, including the three bridges in Grand Cape Mount County, paddy rice projects being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Japan-Liberia Maternity Center at John F. Kennedy Hospital.
Minister Shoniyin seized the occasion to request the Japanese Government to consider the return of contractors to resume construction of the 10 Megawatt Energy Plant for the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
Japanese Ambassador Karoru emphasized that the Non-Project Grant Aid will be of great help in boosting social development in Liberia.
Under the Aid, the Government of Liberia will receive, for instance, petroleum products, which directly contribute to the social and economic recovery in Liberia.
In addition to that, through monetization of the petroleum products, the Government of Liberia will be able to support additional development projects, he said.
He added that the Government of Liberia has already executed several social development projects by utilizing the proceeds of previous Aid, including the program for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), the ELWA Zoning Project and the construction of three bridges in Grand Cape Mount County.
The Ambassador said the Non-Project Grant Aid is provided to only eight countries throughout the world in the fiscal years 2012-2015.
He explained that Japan is determined to provide this aid to Liberia based on the belief that the aid will be able to contribute to the improvement of its socio-economic development.
The Ambassador highlighted that his government selected Liberia, because the Liberian government has established the Monitoring and Evaluation Units for the counterpart fund, and has good track records to carry out valuable counterpart fund projects for social and economic development.
Ambassador Kaoru was delighted that the Non-Project Grant Aid is being granted at a time when Liberia has successfully overcome the plague of the Ebola virus disease, and is taking steps to recover from the socio-economic damage Ebola left behind.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy, said the signing of the agreement between both countries reveals the strength of the partnership.
He stated that Japan stood beside Liberia during the Ebola crisis and is now standing with Liberia in the Ebola recovery era.
Minister Addy mentioned that Liberia recently held bilateral negotiations with Japan at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
He said Japan has proven to be a lifelong partner that is committed to see Liberia transform and see the citizens of Liberia benefit from the investments made by the Japanese government.
Meanwhile, JICA resumes work officially next month in Liberia. Japanese contractors working on the Somalia Drive and the 10 mega watt energy station are also expected to resume work following a ceremony to be held in June at the Ministry of Public Works where JICA has its offices.