Liberia: World Bank New Regional Director Pays Courtesy Visit to President Weah; Talks Big Agriculture; Redemption Hospital Phase II and Economic Transformation projects
Monrovia – The new Regional Country Director of the World Bank, Mr. Pierre Frank Laporte on Monday paid a courtesy call upon President George Manneh Weah.
Accompanied by Country Manager Khwima Nthara, Mr. Laporte, who replaces former Country Director Henry Kerali, assured the President of the Bank’s fullest support for Liberia’s transformation. He noted that the World Bank, in response President’s Weah’s drive for better results in key sectors, is moving toward large projects that can have bigger and more transformative impacts. Said Pierre: “The Bank is now favoring doing very big projects over smaller ones across many different sectors, and we would like to pioneer this in Agriculture, where the President would like to see bigger impacts.”
Mr. Laporte disclosed that the Bank is planning to scale up its agriculture project called Star-P to even bigger agriculture projects that address the whole value chain – from inputs such as seeds and fertilizers to warehousing or transport and feeder roods, access to finance and the digital economy for farmers. He stated that the Bank will also scale up its support to the fishery sector.
The Regional Director disclosed that considering Liberia’s current energy situation, the Bank aims to provide support for regional electricity trade. Liberia will require at least USD 11 million to import cheap power from Cote d’Ivoire upon the completion of the CLSG Transmission project by late 2020. This World Bank support for regional electricity trade may well prove critical for the country.
Mr. Laporte informed the President that yellow machines will hit Ganta-Tapita road next dry season, as procurement is ongoing under the Ganta-Tapita road project. Mr. Laporte also noted that the Bank has now decided to fund phase II of the Redemption Hospital, with phase I soon to be completed.
The Regional Director encouraged the Government of Liberia to continue to make strides in improving governance and moving the fight against corruption to a new level. He praised the Government’s plan to establish a special corruption court under the IMF-supported program to fast-track corruption cases, noting that these reforms are critical for improving perception of governance in the country and for attracting more resources for Liberia.
In response, President Weah thanked the World Bank for its strong support and the Regional Director and Country Manager for being ardent champions of Liberia’s transformation to the senior leadership of the World Bank. The President expressed appreciation that development partners are now warming to his calls for stronger results, especially in agriculture, which has struggled in the past decade and which he intends to transform to deliver greater food security, employ more Liberians and reduce the rice import bill.
Said the President: “to have US$ 300 to $400 million spent on different agriculture projects in Liberia while the country spends around $130 million annually to import rice is truly sad.” The President noted that he has happy that the Government and Development Partners are prepared to change this through bigger and smarter agriculture projects.
President Weah invited the World Bank country staff and the Liberian Cabinet to a one-day retreat to frame and discuss this new approach to GoL-World Bank partnership and coordination and to review and discuss the performance of Bank-funded projects in Liberia.
The retreat is scheduled for Sunday, December 15.