— Hundreds Liberians to get employment
The struggling Liberian economy has been given a bit of a push by Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated, the oldest Indian investment in Liberia that pumped millions of dollars in constructing the nation’s first giant size steel manufacturing plants—an investment that comes with huge employment benefits.
The multi-million dollar plant was dedicated on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 by President George M. Weah as part of the festivities in observance of the country’s 172nd Independence Day celebration.
The program was witnessed Y. K. Sailas Thangal, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India accredited to Liberia, Commerce and Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh, Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar M. Findley, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County and other officials of government.
At the dedication, President Weah pledged the government’s commitment to provide the atmosphere for continued business by Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated and other businesses.
“For Liberia to be better and the economy to grow,” the President said, “we must be mixed with different economic powers that will have the same value and strengthen us, Liberians.”
“Why do you say that Lebanese cannot be citizens? If they come and work, they will take the money to the country where they are citizens. They will be depleting us by generating ten billion in Liberia, they will take it to Ghana where they are citizens because they are confidence of ownership,” President Weah said.
According to President Weah, for proposals of such ideas that will give the Liberian economy a boost, these are some of the problems. “Why are we afraid of other nationals to build their capacities in Liberia?” he asked.
He said today Liberia produces rubber but does not have even a shoe factory. “Today we have iron ore and are proud to announce that Liberia has a steel factory and this is the right way to go.”
Jay S. Khanija, director of the Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated, said the company is prepared to use Liberia’s iron ore to produce various steel products.
Mr. Khanija, who is also the son to Sethi, said the company’s goal is to lead the way for value addition and local manufacturing in the country, an initiative that the company has started already.
Mr. Khanija said the project will need the support of everyone as there will be no need to export scrap as Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated is prepared to buy all, including heavy mental scrap.
“We needed to invest in programs that bring broader economic value to Liberia. Few years ago, we also started the production of plastic products in Liberia and today we are starting the production steel rods in Liberia. We are using scrap to produce steel rods,” he said.
According to him, by producing things locally will save the country on foreign currency and provide more jobs to Liberia, while exporting to other countries. He said the factory has employed over three hundred Liberians who, through their training, have learned very fast and will replace most of the expatriates.
He said for any country to truly develop and transform, it must engage in value addition, which the Sethi Ferro Fabrik intends to lead.
He said the company is proud to be part of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development under the leadership of President Weah.
Mr. Khanija is among the two children of Sethi who were raised in Liberia. He said their father has informed them that in order to demonstrate their love for Liberia, they need to take their investment to another level, which has given birth to the steel company.
Mr. Khanija recounted how his father came to Liberia in the late 1970s and the family has been in Liberia, including the days of the war and also considered Liberia as their home.
He expressed gratitude to the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and Ecobank Liberia for helping to bring the factory to reality.
Upjit Singh Sachdeva, Honorary Consul General of India in Liberia, said the Sethi Brothers has moved to another level in the industry by providing substantial amount of resources to the establishment of a state-of-the-art company.
Mr. Sachdeva said Sethi Brothers is the oldest Indian investment in Africa and Liberia in Particular. He said the company has also played major role in the commercial sector and today has made a remarkable move from the trading sector to the manufacturing sector.
He said the benefits of the trading and manufacturing companies by Sethi Brothers cannot be over emphasized, stating “these investments, especially the steel manufacturing company, responds meaningfully to the CDC’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.”
Mr. Sachdeva said the steel company is expected to create full-time jobs for 500 Liberians, stating that the management of the factory will work assiduously to raise the speed level of the Liberian employees.
“Moreover, the factory will meet the steel needs of the entire country’s construction and reconstruction, as well as enough for export abroad, particularly sister countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River sub-region,” he said.
According tom Mr. Sachdeva, the steel company will help Liberia to generate not only enough foreign exchange, but will also serve as the result of the import substitution economic activities enjoyed by these manufacturing sectors.
“This will reduce the pressure on the value of the Liberian dollars and lower the inflation, thereby significantly enhancing the Liberian economy as a whole,” Mr. Sachdeva said.