President Weah Seeks ‘Trustworthy’ Partnership for Liberia’s Extractive Sectors
Monrovia – Liberia’s President George Weah has underscored the need for partnership with “trustworthy international investors” for the development of the country’s extractives sector to benefit its citizens.
President Weah said although the country remains blessed with abundant resources, trustworthy international partners are needed for its citizens to reap the benefits of their resources.
He made the assertion on Thursday, November 28 when he officially launched the SEMICA Liberia international conference on mining, energy and petroleum during an event held at a hotel in Congo Town.
“This is a well-known fact that Liberia, a resource-rich country, we are endowed with abundance of resources which include gold, diamond, bauxite, iron ore, uranium and prospective reserve of oil and gas-to name a few,” he stated.
“In order to tap into these natural resources to reap the benefits that will transform our economy and bring prosperity to the Liberian people, we will need to partner with trustworthy international investors.”
‘Open for Business’
The Liberian leader has persistently declared on numerous occasions that the country is “open for business”.
Despite his persistent pronouncements, the country continues to face difficulties in attracting investments amid concerns about lawlessness, disrespect for the rule of law, and corruption.
But the Liberian leader assured a “win-win” situation that would benefit parties that seek to invest in the energy, mining or petroleum sectors of the nation.
“I have declared on many occasions that Liberia is open for business especially for all of those who are willing to participate in a fair, honest and equitable basis in the development of our resources cumulating a win-win partnership that are respective of the mutual interests of all parties involved,” he added.
President Weah has also expressed hope that the ongoing conference would showcase Liberia’s full potentials to attract investors.
“This conference therefore will give you the opportunity to harden better appreciation of our available natural resources and enable you to see the full potential in the mining, energy and hydrocarbon sectors,” he noted.
“I am hopeful that the interactions afforded you here in this forum between potential investors and the relevant officials of our government will be fruitful and productive to our mutual benefits.”
For his part, Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler Murray said Liberia has a rich endowment of mineral resources which need to be capitalized in order to create wealth and grow a healthy macro economy.
According to him, using the mining sector’s revenue to stimulate growth in other key sectors such agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, and fishery, among others, remains a key strategy of the government.
“Since the sitting of the Weah-led administration in January 2018, the Ministry of Mines and Energy along with other stakeholder institutions has exerted much effort to reopen derelict iron ore mines as well as bring into operations new ones. However, falling prices of iron ore in the last several years in the global commodities market are invariably linked to accelerated developments of iron ore projects,” he stated.
Minister Murray disclosed that the vision for the energy sector is to see Liberia becoming a ‘hub’ for renewables with the sufficiency and efficiency to export excess power.
He maintained that this vision is based on the empiricism of high rainfall during the wet season of six (6) months that supports large river systems for hydropower development and high solar radiation levels during the next six (6) months of dry season.
He added that the extreme low access rate of 5% nationwide and the high tariff of 35 cents per kilowatt hour are “drawbacks to economic growth and development.”
“These problems are associated with core energy infrastructure deficits which are being addressed by the government of Liberia with assistance from the donor community,” Minister Murray indicated.
According to the Liberian Mines and Energy Minister, the search for oil and gas in both Liberia’s on and off shore basins has been ongoing since the early 1970s.
He pointed out that the country remains a frontier territory in terms of oil and gas explorations, considering that commercial quantities of hydrocarbons have not yet been discovered.
“With 17 offshore exploratory wells drilled, more seismic and drilling operations are still required to fully assess the hydrocarbon play in our shallow, deep and ultra-deep water basin. Offshore reservoir potentials for hydrocarbon formation and pooling have attracted a number of resource-rich international oil companies such as Chevron, Anadarko, and ExxonMobil among others. According to research, our offshore prospects point more towards natural gas occurrence rather than crude oil,” Minister Murray averred.
He further pointed out that there has been a re-demarcation of Liberia’s offshore acreage in preparation of the next international bid round to be conducted in early 2020.
He, however, expressed the hope that the three-day conference will not be an ordinary “talking shop”, but rather a shopping center for investment opportunities in the Liberian mineral, energy and petroleum sectors.
The ongoing international conference is being organized by the Government in partnership with SEMICA Liberia. The convention and exhibition dubbed: SEMINA Liberia 2019 runs from November 28 -30 held under the theme: “Exploring opportunities and investment in Africa’s mining, energy and petroleum industries”.
It is intended to attract investment opportunities to the country’s extractives sector for the benefit of the Liberian people.