GOL & EU Sign US$59M Agreement For Electrification, TVET
The European Union (EU) and the Government of Liberia (GOL) have reached a US$59 million agreement, seeking to address rural electrification under the Rural Electrification Project (REP) in Liberia’s South-eastern counties and Technical Vocational Education (TVET) for the country’s youthful population.
The EU Ambassador to Liberia, Hélène Cavé, launched the two new programs under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) on May 22, 2020, in Monrovia.
With these two programs, all funds under the 11th EDF have now been committed and the EU along with the Government will soon embark on a new programming cycle to support Liberia financially. This will target some of the priorities of the Liberian government’s flagship development program, “Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD),” from 2021 until 2027.
According to an EU delegate who spoke during a teleconference with Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, on May 22, 2020, the fund will be directed to the private sector in meeting Liberia’s development agenda.
It means that private companies will be hired to implement key development projects. The fund will address through a competitive bidding process in line with international best practices.
According to EU, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program will include promotion of innovative approaches to TVET at upper-secondary school level, provide competitive funding facilities and support private-sector employers in policy dialogues.
In complement with the ongoing EU funded project ‘Youth Rising’, the TVET program focuses on sustainable growth sectors such as construction, energy and agricultural value chains by improving the business environment for green employment creation in the construction sector and by scaling up the agriculture value chains for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The program will be implemented in collaboration with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – German development agency) and expand the current cooperation with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization).
EU Ambassador Hélène Cavé stated that “Liberia has a youthful population, with almost 80% of Liberians under the age of 36. In order to offer opportunities to the future of the Nation, Liberia needs sustainable infrastructure in energy and human skills. Together, the EU and Government of Liberia and our Partners, UNIDO and GIZ, are now investing heavily in the future. It is important to have sustainable plans that will benefit the people also after today’s challenging times.”
The objective of the Rural Electrification Program in Southeastern Liberia is to stimulate socio-economic development, thereby improving the living conditions of the semi-rural population.
The program is structured in a way to attract and catalyze the investments of the private sector to provide renewable, sustainable and affordable energy to those rural areas currently not being served with electricity.
It is also part of a wider agenda that will further reinforce the already strong partnership between the EU and Liberia in the area of energy infrastructures.
In the last seven years, the EU has dedicated over EUR 100 million to strengthen Liberia in this field.
“The projects are intended to improve the living conditions of rural communities and to ensure that Liberians are trained with the right skills to meet the real needs of the economy. It’s important that Liberia gets human skills for the future,” EU Head of Delegation Hélène Cavé said via WebEx.
“Water and electricity are of paramount importance to the socioeconomic development of Liberia,” she added.
“We remain committed to our common objective to support and improve the infrastructural development in Liberia and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders involved during the implementation of the project, for a smooth and successful construction of the electricity sector for the benefit of the populations of Liberia,” the EU Ambassador stressed.
The EU is one of Liberia’s main international partners investing in many areas, but primarily in the forest sector.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of the EU in Liberia’s development process, Minister Tweah said, “Madam Ambassador, since I became Minister and the President took office, you have provided enormous leadership. You have always reached across Liberia especially under difficult circumstances, and even in this COVID-19 environment, you are not failing to do that. This financing agreement for rural electrification for south-eastern counties and the TVET are just some of the support you continue to provide for Liberia.”
Stressing the significance of each of the projects that the $59 million will address, Minister Tweah indicated that without electricity and road infrastructures, there will be no economic transformation in Liberia.
He emphasized that the rural electrification project is very cardinal to economic growth and prosperity in the Liberian nation.
That is why, he said, the Liberian government is working to address infrastructure deficits specifically in the southeastern counties.
“We know that the level of electricity in Liberia is still too low, the level of road infrastructures is still too low, and the combination of those two is having serious impact on our grants and our industrialization ambitions,” the Liberia Finance and Development Planning Minister asserted.
According to Minister Tweah, the upgrading of infrastructures under the Rural Electrification Project will help to address some of the constraints that Liberia faces.
He noted that prioritizing the private sector under the forthcoming project is very essential because relaxing constraints in the private sector growth is a pathway to enhancing national development.
According to the Liberian Finance minister, the government should not be the largest employer or even an employer, but the Government of Liberia is the largest employer today because the private sector continues to struggle.
He added that the plan for electrification will also augment the implementation of the Liberian government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), as it prioritizes increasing the electricity grid, agriculture, road infrastructures and technology.
Minister Tweah said with the signing of the agreement, he expects mutual collaboration between the government and the EU as the Liberian people wait with eagle eyes to see the outcome in the next six years.
He also pleaded for the gender component of the project which would incorporate micro credit program for vulnerable women in the southeastern region of the country.
On the TVET Project, Minister Tweah recalled that African countries such as Liberia, face problems with the Labor market because they cannot absorb all the young people entering the market daily.
“This is what is happening in Liberia now. The number of young people entering the Labor market now is at the rate that the economy cannot withstand,” said Minister Tweah.
According to him, a lot of those entering the Labor market in Liberia have deficiencies in terms of skills. The Minister said it makes TVET essential to allow the youth to have technical vocational skills in useful occupations that will provide jobs for them.
He said there is strategic planning in the circle of the government to use the TVET in training more young people with focus on Agriculture, Road Infrastructure, Energy and Information Technology.
According to him, TVET institutions themselves need to be capacitated because if they are not, the students from those institutions will be weakly prepared.
“We have the LOIC, the MVTC, and there are even community colleges that are brewing, and so we have to build the capacity of those institutions to teach our young people to have the kind of skills that employers are looking for, and we really like the fact that the demand- driven module in exercising this project is consistent with the vision of the PAPD,” Minister Tweah added.
He lauded the GIZ that is investing in the TVET project and said it will address the issue of rejecting job seekers in the name of “Lacking skills” that they want.
Furthermore, Minister Tweah cautioned that there should be a strong monitoring and evaluation system by the Ministry of Education as it relates to this project.
He stressed that the qualities of projects delivery are not “First Rate” and therefore need some level of improvement.
He said because there is no effective monitoring or timely implementation, there is flexibility in this project and that government and partners should redesign other projects in place of those weak ones that will yield immense benefits.
The Minister then indicated that the government has hesitated to borrow money for various projects because of a stockpile of debt that the country has accrued over the last ten years, and if partners including the World Bank, the EU and others can undertake projects here, they must ensure that they are “Transformative,” whether they are in Agriculture or other areas.
Also commenting during the teleconference, representatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission expressed their deep appreciation to the EU for the agreement, hoping that the implementation can begin as soon as possible.
France Pushes For Training of Over 2000 Youths in Electricity, Others …As GoL, France Ink 10 Million Euros Grant Agreement
The Government of Liberia (GoL), represented by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah Jr. and the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), represented by French Ambassador Terence Wills, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, signed the agreement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Wills stated that it was important to connect the TVET with the private sector to ensure that young people get jobs after training, stating that the program is now the second generation of TVET program.
The French Ambassador assured at the ceremony that Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah’s dissatisfaction about programs initiated by partners, which have led to young people not getting jobs after training, will be addressed through this Second Generation TVET program.
“Minister Tweah has been straightforward about how many youth couldn’t find jobs after the training, we want the program to be successful, very complete, so we want 200 new electricians to be trained, we want young people to look at agriculture as a smart activity that creates revenue,” Ambassador Wills stressed.
He expressed optimism that the Institute European de Cooperation de Development (IECD) will fit into the Liberian government policy to diversify the economy because Liberia imports all consumable goods.
Through the program, the IECD will help to process resources, add value and will create jobs for the youth, he pointed out.
According to a Finance and Development Planning release, the program will be developed by IECD, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education to support TVET policy to develop income generation in the agriculture sector for the next 5 years.
Beginning September 2020, It will also serve the development of sustainable income generation in the agriculture sector through fish farming and vegetable gardening.
Speaking earlier at the signing ceremony, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr., disclosed that the project aims to promote the socio-vocational integration of young people in Liberia, in the economic sectors which bear the promise of growth and employment, and will develop new economic opportunities in rural areas.
According to him, the project is aligned with the priorities of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) of the Government and will support the implementation of the national TVET strategy.
Minister Tweah who congratulated the People of the Republic of France on their historic celebration of the French Revolution, known as the French Day, praised Ambassador Terence Wills for being a “champion of practical development” in Liberia over the years.
He lauded the Government of France for its support to Liberia, especially the budget contribution.
Accordingly, the Liberian Finance and Development Planning Minister explained that youth employability in Liberia and Africa should be taken to a new level because the rate at which young people in Africa were entering the job market was not sustainable, due to the fact that the formal sector cannot absorb everyone, instead focus is needed in the informal sector.
He maintains that the rate at which the economy in Africa has to go at certain pace should take into consideration the informal sector where young people will get right skills and that job creation in the informal sector will absorb most of the young people.
“There are a number of programs funded by the EU and this TVET signing today by the Government of France through the AFD is another support from the French people. The key challenge now is how we make these programs work for the young people and how can these programs adapt to the circumstances of the young people. It’s critical” Minister Tweah stated.
He told the French Ambassador that the cardinal issue is about how the country delivers, adapts, changes, and evaluates projects initiated by partners, adding that the TVET program will contribute to reducing the vulnerability of young people by giving them skills and creating jobs.
However, he expressed the need to provide high quality training for young people, and said that TVET institutions need to be capacitated as well as focusing on how TVET is being delivered, and monitored.
Two US Transparency Groups Applaud Liberia’s Budget Transparency
Two major international financial groups, based in Washington D.C. United States of America (USA), including Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency(GIFT) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP), says despite inevitable challenges, the quality of leadership demonstrated by Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, “has strongly advanced the disclosure of information on the use of public resources and the expansion of the possibilities for public participation in the budget process.”
The groups, in a joint statement, also applauded the Government of Liberia (GOL) “for having a 6% increase in the 2019 edition of International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey, to 38 out of 100 indicators compared to 2017 during which Liberia passed 36 out of 100 indicators.”
In a dispatch to Minister Tweah, dated May 25, 2020, the Partners said the Ministry of Finance and Development (MFDP) has collaborated as much possible to share its own experience and to benefit from peer-to-peer technical collaboration the GIFT network offers.
According to the dispatch, both GIFT and IBP (lead steward and a founding member of the network) work to support, from complementary perspective and trenches, improvements in open budgeting practices in Liberia.
Accordingly, it asserted that in 2019, Liberia was selected to be part of the Fiscal Openness Accelerator, a project to pilot public participation mechanism in the budget process and further improve in budget transparency.
“But now, we would like to take some additional steps, small but with significant impact. First, given the catastrophic pandemic and its profound implications in all areas, including public finances and fiscal systems, we would like to help Liberia in facing this crisis with the greatest possible fiscal transparency,” they pointed out.
The dispatch added that “As part of its global mandate and collaborative approach, the GIFT network has developed a guide to support its members in responding to the fiscal challenges of COVID-19 with timely and accessible information that helps identify governmental datasets and data fields required for informed decision-making processes and meaningful fiscal transparency, with a user-centered and purpose-oriented approach.”