President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has lauded the Kingdom of Norway for its role in Liberia’s post-war recovery. She praised Norway’s contributions to peace and how they have impacted the lives of the Liberian people.
The Liberian leader said the role that Norway continues to play could be felt in areas such as, debt relief, relief operations through the Norwegian Refugee Council, oil sector reform, and the restoration of electricity to areas of Monrovia.
She expressed further thanks and appreciation to Norway for promoting women’s participation in the public and private sectors.
Making remarks at her Foreign Affairs office when the new Norwegian Ambassador to Liberia, Hege Hertzberg, presented her Letters of Credence, President Sirleaf said that Liberia is open to public-private partnerships, especially in the energy sector, so the nation can maximize its strong hydropower potential.
She said that despite the challenges in restoring full power to the country, her administration was on track with work on transmission and distribution that have started to show fruitful results. She mentioned, in that regard, the three new heavy fuel oil (HFO) plants that are expected to provide additional power to the capital.
President Sirleaf invited Ambassador Hertzberg to the groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, slated for January 24, 2014.
This would pave the way for the actual engineering work to begin so the December 2015 target for officially restoring the hydro facility to its pre-war status would be met.
The Norwegian Ambassador pledged her country’s commitment to the Liberia/Norwegian partnership in the restoration of cheap and constant electricity in Liberia. She said that Liberia’s hydropower potential is huge.
She expressed the hope that Norway’s partnership would help to further explore the energy sector’s potential.
Ambassador Hertzberg said she has kept herself informed about the process of rehabilitating the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, and had made a point of flying over the dilapidated facilities to get a first-hand view of the level of destruction.
The Ambassador also reiterated her government’s willingness to provide technical support in developing Liberia’s oil industry.
She disclosed to the Liberian leader that her country is also interested in helping Liberia in the areas of justice, security, gender-based violence and other forms of sexual abuse.
Ambassador Hertzberg praised President Sirleaf for her administration’s interest in peace and reconciliation, as demonstrated by the holding of Palava Hut discussions aimed at uniting the people for the common good of the country.
She said she believed that President Sirleaf’s incredible international record has made post-war reconstruction the concern of all civilized nations, and described the Liberian President as a woman with enviable leadership ability.
The Norwegian Ambassador presently executes her Ambassadorial duties in Accra, Ghana. She will remain there until preparations can be made for her office to be relocated to Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the Liberian government last year concluded a US$65 million concessional loan deal with the European Central Bank to finance the Mount Coffee project, which supplied electricity to Monrovia and other areas of the country before it was destroyed during the civil war in 1992.
The cost of the rehabilitation and upgrading of Mount Coffee is estimated at US$230 million. Donors have committed US$107 million, while the Governments of Norway and Germany have pledged grants of US$75 million and $32 million, respectively. The Liberian Government has also budgeted US$45 million for the project.