Liberian Now Blogs

 

BBC's-Evan-Davis-interviewing-Ellen-Johnson-SirleafAt the end of 2012, Evan Davis wrote a short article for the BBC entitled, Why it is Catch-22 for Liberia’s development hopes. This article does a great job of illuminating why it is so difficult for a country like Liberia to develop quickly.  Due to the multiple infrastructural and institutional deficiencies and because they are beginning from ground zero on so many fronts, it is impossible to see overnight change. It will probably take decades of diligent persistence and hard work to see the complete turnaround of this nation.

Below is a short excerpt from this article. To read the article in it’s entirety please click on the link underneath the excerpt.  Embedded in the full BBC article is a short seven-minute audio interview with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which Evan Davis conducted for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“It all comes down to the many different Catch-22s of development. Let me give you an example of the sort of thing I mean. For industry to settle in a country you first need electricity; for electricity, you need some trained workers; for trained workers, you need some schools; for schools you need some money; for money, you need some industry…. The general point is that Liberia starts from the disadvantage of having multiple disadvantages simultaneously. If we had any one of the country’s problems, we would fix it pretty quickly – if we had no electricity, we would be able to build some up pretty darn fast. If we had no schools, we would rapidly create some.” (The above excerpt was taken from the BBC article entitled Why it is Catch-22 for development hopes by Evan Davis

To read the BBC article in it’s entirety click here

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Liberia-an-uncivil-warIn the summer of 2008, I first saw this powerful documentary about the Liberian Civil War and I knew I would never be the same. It was confirmation to me that loving Liberia would be something I would be doing for years to come. If someone wants to begin to comprehend what Liberia has been through and why it has such a long way to go, be sure to rent this unforgettable film.

ITUNES PLOT SUMMARY

“In the summer of 2003, Liberia, America’s oldest African ally, is in total chaos. Stunning in its access and images, Liberia: An Uncivil War offers a compelling behind-the-scenes account of the internecine military conflict that destroyed the nation.

The film splits its time between the regime of the corrupt President Charles Taylor and his supporters in the capital city of Monrovia and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) as the rebels advance on the capital after taking control of much of the country with their army of predominantly teenage soldiers, some of whom engage in ritualistic cannibalism because they believe it will protect them against their enemies.

Charles-Taylor22There is no protection for the tens of thousands of innocent civilians caught in the escalating conflict–just pleas and prayers for an intervention from the United States–an intervention that would not come. In Liberia: An Uncivil War, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Jonathan Stack has crafted an unforgettable tableau about a country and people on the verge of implosion.”

To rent this film from ITunes click here

 Pictured to the right is the cruel dictator who ruled throughout the Liberian civil war, Charles Taylor.

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liberia-rising-2030For the past few years my wife has worked with a few refugee families from the Middle East who have immigrated to America in search of a better life. It is inspiring to see the hard work, determination and camaraderie of these soon to be new Americans. One can’t help but be moved by these folks who have little in terms of material possessions but lots in terms of the development of their most precious asset – personal character.

There is something so compelling about human struggle and witnessing those who never give up in spite of their current circumstances. Just as these new American immigrants will one day see their children have a better life because of their current sacrifices, today there is also a tiny nation in Africa battling to become a middle-income country.

liberiarising2030Last year, the Liberian government finalized Liberia Rising 2030, which is a detailed plan embedded with regular benchmarks meant to steer Liberia from its current per capita income of $280 to a per capita income of between $1000-$2000 by 2030. This ambition plan is derided by some, ignored by others, but is beginning to be passionately pursued by many who matter.

Liberian-billboardThere is a noteworthy op-ed, by Dr. Musa Dukuly, on the allafrica.com website. Dr. Dukuly analyzes the 2030 plan and what it will take to actually get there. In this piece one learns that Liberia is already on the path toward self-sustainability. The next generation of Liberians will one day join with the next generation of first generation American immigrants in seeing how the struggle of their parents paved the way for the better life they both one day will have.

To read the op-ed piece on the allafrica.com website click  here

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Ellen-Johnson-Sirleaf--Council-on-foreign-relationsIn the fall of 2012, the twenty-fourth president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, addressed the Council on Foreign Relations. She clearly deliberated on the progress and challenges, which her country is currently engaged with. For anyone who wants to see the big picture of where Liberia has come from and where it plans to head, this is a must listen to podcast.

President Sirleaf begins by painting a verbal portrait of the chaos and destruction, which engulfed Liberia at the beginning of her presidency. She shares how her chief concern was putting into place a poverty reduction strategy. Early on, the government came up with a plan built around four pillars entitled Lift Liberia.

With the help of the World Bank, Liberia began to methodically pay down their $4.9 billion debt. Within three years, most of that debt had either been forgiven or repaid. This enabled Liberia to begin the long road back to rebuilding their infrastructure. Now they are beginning to focus on becoming an exporting country through the renewal and revitalization of power, ports and roads.

the-four-pillars.png.opt556x344o0,0s556x344As a result of these concentrated efforts, the Liberian economy has begun to grow again. During her first term, the annual rate of growth in Liberia was 6.5%.

In 2012, the IMF estimated that the growth rate for that year would be 8.8%. But it’s not just the economics of Liberia, where President Johnson Sirleaf has ushered in new laws to increase  the admission of young girls into schools. Because of these efforts, enrollments in schools quadrupled during her first term.

Throughout this address and in the Q&A time, she portrays a realistic picture of the Liberian challenges, which still exist today. She also gives the listener a brief preview into the new plan which Liberia finalized in 2012 entitled Liberia Rising 2030.  Tomorrow, we will explore what this plan is all about.

 

 

Liberian-educationFor those who want to learn a little more about Liberia, listening to this podcast will exponentially increase your knowledge

about this nation on the rise.

To listen to this podcast click here

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