U.S. Gives $256M to Boost Energy, Roads

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The United States government, through its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), has provided US$256.7 million to the Liberian government to help put finishing touches to many of its infrastructure projects currently ongoing, especially the energy and road sectors.
MCC is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the U.S. Congress in 2004, but it was not until 2008 that Liberia became eligible to benefit. The MCC is an independent agency for allotting international assistance from the US government in addition to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The latest assistance to the Liberian government is meant to provide substantial support to the government’s energy program and to help maintain the increasing number of roads under construction across the country.
The disclosure was made by Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh yesterday during a Cabinet meeting held at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia. The meeting was chaired by Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Minister Konneh said the fund could not have come at a better time when the country is poised to complete the only major source of energy, the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant in White Plains, outside Monrovia.
He indicated that when completed, the hydro would provide the needed energy that would boost and fast-track the country’s development.
“This donation provides substantial support in a timely way to the energy sector and the maintenance of roads across the country. It will also give capacity supports to these sectors,” he said.
Minister Konneh maintained that Liberia’s economy would not grow until the problem of energy, which many say is holding the development of the country hostage, is resolved.
“The economy will not grow if we do not fix the energy problem that we have in this country. We can cry from now to judgment day, the economy will not get to where we want it to be until we have stable and cheap electricity in this country,” Minister Konneh insisted.
He also disclosed that Liberia has been selected on the MCC Board, which places the country in a better position to receive more funding in the future.
The government’s journey with the MCC started in 2008 with a threshold program that attracted US$80M, opening the door for Liberia to participate in the program. The money was used to support girls’ education, land reform programs and other government policies.
He noted that the US government, through the MCC, will establish an autonomous agency to manage the MCC’s engagement with the Liberian government.
The MCC national program is headed by former Foreign Minister Monie Captan, who along with renowned Economist Samuel Tweh, is also spearheading the Compact Constraints Analysis component of the program.
Meanwhile, the two administrations under which the MCC project agreement was reached will be coming to an end in the next two years, but the project, which has a five-year life span, will live for new administrations to inherit.
US President Barrack Obama’s tenure comes to an end next year while President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ’s expires the following year 2017.
This means that the project would serve as a bridge that will bring two new governments together and help boost the already cordial and bilateral relations between the two countries.


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