Liberia: Regional Neighbors Commit to Utilize Shared Economic Resources
Monrovia – One of the payoffs from President Weah’s recent friendly and working visit of June 11-13, 2019 to the sisterly Republic of Guinea was the signing of a Joint Communique between both countries. During the high- level meeting based upon invitation from president Conde, both presidents discussed economic, security and other bilateral issues relating to the peace and stability of both countries.
On the economic front, presidents Conde and Weah agree to utilize their natural resources in ways that would bring potential economic benefits to their respective citizens. One of the biggest results from the two-day working visit was the signing of an MOU for the full exploitation of the iron ore reserves at the Mifergui, Zogota, Zali Small Nimba and Small Graphite Projects with an estimated worth of more than 21b $US.
The economic development of these mines and graphite projects will require the full operation of Liberia’s infrastructure which is more proximal than the Port of Conakry. The cost of constructing a railway from the various mines to the Port of Conakry is estimated to be five times more expensive than through the Port of Buchanan. But with the construction of a railway comes other economic benefits to include cross border trade in domestic goods, anti-smuggling as well as the prevention of trafficking in contraband.
The economic impacts of this negotiation will see a big push in the Country’s Gross Domestic Product through jobs creation through the various services provided as a result of the construction of the rail as well as a big boost for the Ports of Buchanan and Monrovia through expansion and more service deliveries including transshipment and handling of bigger cargo vessels.
A geographical map showing the railway trail from Guinea to Liberia also revealed the possibility of attracting one of the biggest iron ore reserves in the world. The map shows that the distance from the Simandou Iron Ore Concession to the Mifergui mine is shorter in terms of railway transshipment.
Economic geologists point out two reasons why it will be economically vital to use the port of Buchanan than that of the port of Conakry. First, the distance from Samandou to Mifergui or to Monrovia is less costly in terms of a rail construction. Secondly, constructing a railway to the port of Conakry will cost anywhere around $US10 billion which likely lowers the economic benefit of exploiting the mine- thereby leaving the port of Buchanan as the most suitable choice for transportation.
Simandou, located 550km from the capital Conakry in southeastern Guinea, is among the most biologically diverse stretches of vegetation in the world is home to some of the largest untapped high-grade iron ore deposits anywhere on earth.
Presidents Alpha Conde and George Manneh Weah agree to utilize their natural resources in ways that would bring potential economic benefits to their respective citizens. One of the biggest results from the two-day working visit was the signing of an MOU for the full exploitation of the iron ore reserves at the Mifergui, Zogota, Zali Small Nimba and Small Graphite Projects with an estimated worth of more than US$21bn.
A professional journalist and online blogger Ansu Sekou Konneh who many consider as a “reservoir of knowledge” noted that after 51 years, Liberia and Guinea will soon reach a rail transport deal.
Displaying a May 1968 Exchange of Notes stating former presidents Tubman of Liberia and Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea preparedness to use the LAMCO to Buchanan rail corridor to transport products from Guinea. “Politics aside, if everything goes well, both countries stand to benefit a lot more” Mr. Konneh, noted.
The two-day visit has further enhanced the brotherly relationship subsisting between the two presidents which critics say was not on a good term due to the last elections. But with the warm reception shown by his big brother Alpha Conde, all is now set for both countries to begin championing the economic needs and aspirations of their citizens through bilateral trade and commerce.
The Joint Communiqué signed by the two leaders also called for the immediate reactivation of the holding of the Joint Cooperation Grand Committee between the two countries with focus on mine, justice, transport, defense and security, education and private investments. Similarly, in the sector of transport, the two Presidents have expressed their willingness for the establishment of an airline to serve the Mano River Union Countries.
The Communiqué also noted that in consideration of the increasing terrorist and religious extremist movements in the region, the two Heads of State have instructed their respective ministers to seek opportunities of cooperation in particular in the areas of military and security, training and capacity building, sharing information and intelligence, border security, illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
The Joint Communique which was signed by the His Excellency Mamadi Toure, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Guineans Abroad and Hon. Gbezongar Findley, Foreign Minister of Liberia also calls for strengthening their strategic partnership by building on the efficient handling of regional geopolitical realities and exploitations of economic opportunities for the mutual interest of the two countries.
Liberia’s ‘Open For Business’
Meanwhile, PresidentWeah has reemphasized Liberia openness to investment opportunities and wants citizens to embrace available chances for investment.
The Liberian leader was speaking in Monrovia after the signing of an agreement with Corporation of Fortescue Metals Group and AL Maktoum Company. The two companies have huge mining investments in the neighboring Republic of Guinea and are looking to investing in Liberia.
As part of the agreement, the firms have promised to construct a new railroad from the port city of Buchanan to Guinea, which was being used for the transport of minerals.
Two agreements were signed that will see the Liberian government providing the railway corridor while the firms will recondition the railroad and refurbish the port of Buchanan or construct a new port if the existing facility does not have the capacity.
The MOU was signed by UAE investor Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum on behalf of the parties and witnessed by John Andrew Henry Forrest, CEO of Fortsecue in Australia, while Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray signed for the Liberian Government and Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean witness on behalf of Liberia
Speaking Sunday, July 14, during the signing, President Weah said Liberia is abundantly gifted with natural resources which concessionaires can take advantage of for investment.
“Liberia is hospitable and open for sincere business; we are going to work with you sincerely and honestly,” President Weah said.
According to Weah, investment opportunities in these resource sectors would become beneficiary for both investors and Liberia, because “most of the resource sectors remain untapped,” President Weah said.
He said untouched sectors include virgin forest, huge rivers, and ocean, arable land and minerals lurking.
President Weah, at the same time, reiterated the government’s willingness to ensure transparency and openness in dealing with investors and their interests in Liberia.
He lauded Australia Billionaire John Andrew Henry Forrest, CEO of Fortsecue and Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum for forming a partnership to invest in Liberia.
Meanwhile, Mr. Forrest, CEO of Fortsecue, expressed delight and joy for the smooth kickoff of the investment discussions between his party and the Government.
“I am here to grow your economy. I am here to grow your social services and to grow the standard of living of the Liberian people,” he told reporters after the signing ceremony.
Presidential Press Secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh further emphasized that the MOU sets the pace for the investors to explore various sites for possible future mining activities in Liberia.
“This MOU is not an agreement, where these people are directly going to start mining, but they will go to evaluate areas like Putu and other mining sites before going through an agreement,” said Presidential Press Secretary.