With BFF, Soom Group, Others’ Support
A seven-member high-powered Liberian government delegation, headed by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on Investment and Concessions, has returned from Beijing, China, where it successfully participated in the 2018 World Convention of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the World Blockchain Technical Forum, a release has said.
According to the release, the forum, organized by the China Association of Small and Medium Commercial Enterprises, was held from June 22-24, 2018, at the Yanxi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center in Beijing. It was dedicated to driving economic growth, promote market prosperity, and expand social employment in all countries.
It was held under the theme, “Promoting the Network of SMEs, Achieving a win-win Situation.”
Sen. Johnson said that the summit comes at a time when Liberia’s banking and financial sectors are undergoing substantial transformation as a result of the country’s adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), an essential strategic resource without which financial institutions will neither be competitive nor responsive to the emerging needs of consumers and businesses.
Johnson said that the conference also comes on the heels of rising consumers’ demand for convenience, flexibility, speed and remote interaction with financial service providers.
He stressed that the Government of Liberia (GoL), recognizing that digital technology has become the preferred tool for fostering financial inclusion, access to finance for SMEs and to promote its Pro-poor development agenda based on Transparency and Accountability is interested in exploring all possibilities, including the use of Blockchain technology and digital currencies.
Sen. Johnson further indicated that this would enable the GoL to finance investments and business ventures for SMEs as well as infrastructures and other development programs in the country.
“Although the GoL is fully aware of the Technical, Educational, Legal and Regulatory barriers to the adoption of Blockchain Technology in the country, there are some foundations, including the installation of fiber optic conections in Liberia that embraces this opportunity,” he said.
Moreover, Johnson emphasized that with the prevailing political will, President George Weah will inspire the necessary changes and open up the country to business opportunities, which harness the creation of jobs and provide SMEs much-needed access to finances.
At the forum, attended by more than 1,500 delegates representing heads of State and governments as well as leading academics, financiers, economists, entrepreneurs and blockchain experts from China, United States, Finland, Russia, South Korea, Germany, Japan, Italy and Singapore, the Liberian delegation made a brief technical presentation with respect to abundant investment and business opportunities.
The presentation was made by Quinton A. Tunis, director for Investment Promotion of the Liberia National Investment Commission (NIC).
At the end of the summit, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was made and entered into by and between the office of Sen. Johnson, representing the GoL and SOZO International Ltd, a leading business firm in Tokyo, Japan, with specialty in international consultancy, investment, trade, road and real estate, tourism, cultural exchange, entertainment and general construction.
The Liberian delegation also inked another MoU with Soom Group, a leading business conglomerate, comprising 250 companies dealing in infrastructures, technology, and agriculture with branches in the USA, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and China.
The global investment forum was co-sponsored by China’s Public Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange Center, China –Asia Economic Development Association and with the support of Chinese People’s Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries.
The participation of Liberia in this year’s forum was based on a formal invitation extended to the country by SOZO International, an Investment and Trade Consultancy firm based in Tokyo, Japan; with affiliate offices in Seoul, South Korea, and the US and Soom Group of Companies, which are collaborating partners of the Better Future Foundation (BFF).
BFF is a development advocacy organization, which is dedicated to promoting socioeconomic, educational and international cultural understanding and cooperation.
SOZO International invitation to Liberia stressed the significance of the country’s participation, aimed at highlighting its economic resuscitation efforts as well as its vast investment and business potentials.
SOZO International said that Liberia’s participation was to also enable it, as a post-conflict and post-Ebola nation, to explore and cultivate partnerships and cooperation for sustainable development through foreign investments and trade.
According to the release, Augustine Arkoi, International Representative of SOZO, who accompanied the Liberian delegation, said his organization facilitated the trip.
Arkoi used the occasion to applaud the GoL for its participation in the conference, and expressed the hope that such participation would be of immense benefit to the people of Liberia.
Other members of the delegation included Emmanuel Mulbah Johnson, Assistant Minister of Youth & Sports; Eddie Trawally, Assistant Minister of Justice, Bureau of Corrections; Diakae AL Lewis, Sr. Assistant Director, IT Regulation & Supervision, Central Bank of Liberia and Cllr. Mark M. M. Marvey, World Bank Consultant & Legal practitioner on international investment and Concessions.
Some of the international business tycoons and personalities who participated in this year’s conference in Beijing and subsequently met with the Liberian delegation were Jiang Ming, Chairman, China General Chamber of Commerce; Rex Wong, Founder and Chairman, Hong Kong Blockchain Industry; KiEob Park, Founder/President & CEO, Soompay; Nic Roberson, Diplomatic Editor, CNN International; Tian Long Tai, President, Beijing Jiaowen Hotel; and host Madam Choi, Jong IM, CEO Sozo International and Chairman of Foreign Economic Cooperation Project, among others.