According to Presidents Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, if the debts of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are waived it would put them on a better path for direct, immediate and robust economic recoveries.
It is no secret that the outbreak of the Ebola scourge has shattered the economies of these three worst affected countries and in order for them to be put on the right trajectory for economic recovery measures like these need to be instituted, the two African head of states believe.
The two leaders are also strong voices at the African Union (AU).
The two sub-regional leaders expressed their desire to support the affected countries by advocating for cancellation of their debts when they paid a one-day solidarity visit to Liberia. They met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the VIP lounge at the Roberts International Airport on Wednesday.
President Yayi Boni, who is also a former President of the West African Development Bank (WADB), promised his country’s support in advocating for the cancellation of the debts of the three countries.
President Boni, who appeared to be acquainted with the current state of the Liberian economy, noted that when Liberia had anticipated a growth rate of eight percent in 2014 and dropped to zero percent it signified danger not only for Liberia but also for the sub-region.
With all the human and economic losses that Liberia has suffered, he said, Benin has taken the decision to join other countries in supporting Liberia in terms of technical and financial assistance. He promised his country’s support in its advocacy for the cancellation of the debts of those countries worse affected by Ebola.
Beninese President Yayi Boni said foremost in the minds of ECOWAS, and AU of which the three countries are members, has been the eradication of the deadly Ebola virus disease.
He said many summits and meetings of both groups have been organized and measures taken, including providing financial assistance, sensitization campaigns and even mobilizing support from the international community to assist the three worse affected countries.
He disclosed that Benin is shortly to send a number of medical doctors to Liberia to join the efforts of other African countries and the international community to help eradicate the Ebola virus. “We want to join you in this fight because it is important. Since Liberia is a member of ECOWAS and the AU we are obligated to assist you,” President Yayi Boni affirmed.
President Issoufou also shared the sentiments of his Beninese colleague, President Boni, in calling on the international community to cancel Liberia’s debts.
He also called on investors to return to the country because the situation is improving now. The Nigerien leader commended the efforts of President Sirleaf in tackling the disease and her courage and strength which has now put the virus on the run..
He said that their presence in the country should show to the whole world that it is possible to come to and be with the people of Liberia.
He said further that Niger is prepared to be a part of whatever assistance is brought to Liberia including human and economic because what Liberia has undergone cannot be over-emphasized.
President Sirleaf told the Presidents of Benin and Niger that although they were just visiting the country since the Ebola crisis, “You have been with us through messages, telephone calls, through the meetings of ECOWAS that have provided the support and encouragement. So we feel that this meeting just deepens that particular support and the feeling of solidarity which you have for us,” she said.
President Sirleaf said though she had hoped that they would have stayed overnight, she appreciated the time they spent with her and looked forward to continuing to make the success that Liberia is making in battling the Ebola virus disease to enable the country to continue on its path of peace and development.
“I want to thank you for the visit and thank you for the support we have received, not just for Ebola, but you’ve been with us even before Ebola struck. Thank you for this visit,” she said.