Vice President Boakai Outlines Challenges Confronting Post-War Liberia

Friday, 4th February 2011

Monrovia, Liberia - Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has observed that people sometimes tend to underestimate the extent of devastation Liberia suffered during its protracted civil conflict.

He said even though loss of life during the Liberian conflict was negligible compared to that of a country like Rwanda, the destruction of infrastructure was massive, and cited the blowing up of the country’s only multi-million dollar hydro plant that supplied electricity to the capital and other parts of the country, as well as the water treatment plant.

“We won’t be able to attract investment without water and electricity,” Vice President Boakai observed, adding that the brain drain occasioned by the flight of professionals has created serious manpower shortage in the post-war country.

Addressing a three-man Canadian Baptist Ministries delegation which paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office Friday, Vice President Boakai cited training and capacity building as one of the major challenges confronting post-war Liberia.

“As a result of the protracted conflict, most of our professional doctors fled to the United States and other developed countries in search of greener pasture, and we are just beginning to revamp our medical college,” the Liberian Vice President noted.
 
He also cited the lack of veterinarians and technicians and cited the training of these professionals as yet another challenge confronting Liberia.

The Liberian Vice President observed that another major challenge facing Liberia is rebuilding the educational system which, he noted, has declined considerably due to the massive drain, and expressed optimism that the restoration of the United States Peace Corps program would help restore standards to the post-war country’s educational system. 

“Liberia is a country rich in natural resources, but without professionals to manage mining companies the country would resort to hiring foreigners to fill these slots. So there is need for capacity building in the next couple of years because lots of jobs will be created in the mining and agriculture sectors.

Vice President Boakai also stressed the need to mechanize agriculture and do away with the slash and burn method of agriculture to preserve the environment. He emphasized that there was need to train technicians and tractor operators and repairers to manage modern mechanized equipment in the face of the technological advances.

He said due to the huge financial burden bequeathed to the current government by past governments, the available paved roads now do not go beyond few kilometers outside of the capital, noting, “This makes it difficult to move around the country”.
   
Briefing Vice President Boakai earlier, the head of the delegation, Mr. Blair Clark who is Associate Secretary General of the Canadian Baptist Ministries, said his ministry is involved in giving to the poor through sustainable community development programs.

He said since their arrival in Liberia, they have held discussions with the deputy ministers of agriculture and planning and economic affairs on how to help alleviate poverty in Liberia within the context of the Christian ministry.

According to Mr. Blair, his delegation has held consultations with authorities of the Agriculture Ministry on the need to expand rice production in the country, and with the deputy minister of planning and economic affairs on assisting the government with communication through internet based software.

He praised officials at the Liberian Embassy in Washington D.C for the efficient and professional services they are rendering the public. He said unlike the Angolan Embassy in Washington for example, where it takes weeks to get a Tourist Visa, it took them a matter of hours to get a visa from the Liberian Embassy.

He also commended the ministries of planning and economic affairs and agriculture for the efficiency they displayed in the performance of their official duties.

In remarks earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Rev. John D. Karmo, who accompanied the Canadian Baptist Ministries delegation to the Vice President’s office, said they have been engaged with the Canadian Baptist Ministries to contribute to Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.