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‘Extraordinary’ -Senator Wesseh Describes UN’s Roles

By Abraham Morris-23188624820- abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

 

River Gee County Senator, Commany Wesseh, has described the role played by the United Nations (UN) in security, peace, economic livelihood, since its establishment in 1951 as “extraordinary”.

Serving as Keynote Speaker at the 72nd anniversary of the UN held at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia, Senator Wesseh said the UN carries a special meaning for Liberia given her role during the country’s civil crisis and the during the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.

Senator Wesseh, quoting historians said the UN organization was initially created by 51 countries of the world to end World War II.

However, the River Gee Senator stressed that for Liberia, the UN provided platform for the country as the first independent republic on the continent of Africa to play an active role in international affairs.

Additionally, Senator Wesseh also averred that Liberia used the UN to lead the struggle for African independence from colonial rule; struggle against racist apartheid regime and system of South Africa; for a dedicated and forceful advocacy for the liberation of Southwest Africa, now Namibia for colonial domination and promotion of pan-Africanism.

He said for Liberians who experienced fire, blood-sweat, and tears as a result of 14 years of civil crisis that erupted on Christmas eve, 1989, that led to the death of over 250,000 persons and incalculable destruction of economic and other infrastructure and services, the UN played an extraordinary role in helping the country end armed violence, disarmed and demobilized combatants as well as build hopes.

“As we remember the UN from 1993, we do acknowledge the ECOMOG paid the highest prize for Liberia to live. To others, the UN and its agencies are sources of economic well-being- employment agencies and social cohesion,” said Senator Wesseh.

Senator Wesseh in extending Liberia’s gratitude to the UN and its agencies reminded Liberians to be mindful that since the creation of the UN, its membership has increased to 193 member States, each of whom must be noted for their contributions to the achievement made in the country.

He continued: “In the last 30 years, the most profound of Liberia’s achievement can be mentioned in terms of peace and stability. It is so peaceful that some people have forgotten that 14 years of our country smell of corpses- mostly innocent men, women and children.”

 

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Education Minister Again! -Warned For Vulgarity

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told Education Minister George Werner, that his recent statement on social media is unbecoming and inconsistent with his position as a senior official of government.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the statement on Monday during a conversation with the Education Minister.

The Liberian leader indicated further that the Minister’s social media statement is also a contradiction to and undermines her recent Special Statement on vulgarity, abuse and spread of hate messages by some Liberians during the Electoral process.

The President concluded by accordingly warning Minister George Werner and all other officials of government to stop such attitude and act in ways consistent with their status as public officials.

It can be recalled that huge criticisms rose from all sector of the Liberian society regarding recent comments made by Minister Werner on his Facebook wall denigrating the August 17, 2017 presidential debate and condemning the necessity of intellectualism in governance with specific reference of the Liberian Educational system.

Several Liberians described Minister Werner’s Facebook Post, as action that warranted his immediate dismissal as the Minister of Education.

Minister Werner in his Face book comments put forward a number of questions, and at the same time justifying his reasons for degenerating education by saying: “What’s the purpose of political debates in Liberia, and who are the debates for?

Education Minister Werner in his recent face book said: “Where’s the evidence that a candidate became President in Liberia because s/he was a great debater? Let those who manage the candidates advise them to campaign to their strengths. Don’t debate if it isn’t your strength. There are many other ways to articulate your platform or vision for the country. The debates could be a setup by the meritocratic elite (for the elite) to show how educated and knowledgeable they are. It’s been an essential part of Liberian history, of exclusion even, to eliminate the perceived uneducated through “book” talk.”

He continued: “Da book talk we’ll eat? For those who are surprised by this post, I haven’t changed my views since 2004. “They like hiding behind books to lie to the people. How does a debate, an intellectual exercise, help you to “live Liberia, think Liberia, and love Liberia”? By the way, who won the debates in 2005 and 2011? Where are they now?”

He continued: “To the book people, education does not promote equality and shared prosperity. Education alone is not enough to make anyone a “good” leader.”

The suggestion that all must participate in debates to justify their quest for leadership and their ‘educatedness” is tabata (origin in Kru, anything that does not make sense), to say the least.

“How about meeting voters in the palava huts, under the trees, in their communities and homes? By the way, don’t use the schools and break the desks and chairs. Advice to all candidates: campaign to your strengths. Don’t follow the meritocratic elites’ intellectual stagecraft. They set it up to their advantage with their unscrupulous recorders and editors,” Minister Werner’s social media post read.

As a result of such comments on the Liberian educational system; the Liberian Senate summoned him to appear before that august body to give reason why he should not be held in contempt.

His appearance angered several Senators including Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff who raised concerns over the Minister’s demeaning comments on social media against education.

Senator Sheriff called on her colleagues in the Senate to declare “vote of no confidence” for his comments made against the country’s educational system.

Eleven of the 16 senators voted in favour of the motion to pass a vote of no confidence in the Education Minister, but a motion for reconsideration from Senator George Tengbeh of Lofa County stalled the process of informing the President of their decision.

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African Disable Group Reviews Disability Laws, Policies

The African Youth with Disabilities Network-Liberia Chapter (AYWDN) Monday began a five-day national forum on revision of policies and Act creating the National Commission on Disability in Liberia.

The review process seeks to compare ideas with the Act that created the Sierra Leone National Commission on disabilities, the Ghana National Commission on disabilities, and other existing laws and policies in favor of persons with disabilities.

Funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the exercise will also help government in its efforts to close the gap that currently exists between the disabled and non-disabled population with special emphasis on healthcare, education, and improve the public perception about disabilities and their relationship with People With Disabilities (PWDs).

Addressing the opening session, AYWDN Country Coordinator B. William M. Yarsiah revealed that instead of youths with disabilities sitting back and waiting for the state and others to make good for them, they are resolved to take some responsibilities.

Yarsiah warned against criticisms that will derail the revision process as it seeks to provide for a law that will provide for the overall protection of persons living with disabilities.

“We should not sectionalize or focus on who takes credit for the creation of a holistic law that represents the interest of PWDs,” Yarsiah indicated.

He frowned on what he calls the lack of political will by the National Commission on Disability (NCD) in making sure that the voices of persons with disabilities are heard at both the national and international levels.

He recalled that since some sections of the NCD law were amended and forwarded to the National Legislature in 2012, they are still in committee room.

Also in remark, Daintowon Pay-Bayee of the Federation of Liberian Youth and a member of the disable community stressed the preparedness of PWDs to ensuring the inherent dignity remains on course.

She blamed government for giving less attention to issues on PWDs and vowed to ensure that their community is moved from charity and medical to the human rights model that provides for teaching them to fish for themselves.

“All we are getting is lip-service on the employment of qualified disabled  into government,” she added

The forum is being held at the Kakata Kountry Club and is expected to last up to Friday October 27.

It brings together heads of several disable groupings and the head of the National Commission on Disabilities.

AYWDN Liberia Chapter was established as a result of a Steering Committee Strategic Planning and Training Session organized by the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) along with the Open Society Foundation’s Youth Initiative (YI) and Disability Right Initiative (DRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Liberia Chapter of the AYWDN was established during a convening of twenty-nine (29) Youth with Disabilities (YWDs) on February 21, 2012 under the auspices of the Association of Disabled Females of Liberia.

The overarching objectives of this project are to review, draft and strengthen existing laws and policies in favor of persons with disabilities for future enactment through constitutional provision for the creation of an inclusive barrier free society where all persons with disabilities will live in dignity exercise their rights and participate in all spheres of life.

 

Riffelalp Resort Donates To Calvary Baptist Church

A five-star hotel based in Zermatt, Switzerland, has donated a modern pianoto the Calvary Baptist Church located on 18th Street in Sinkor.The piano was part of the Hotel’s many contributions to the Church and people of Liberia.

One of the brains behind the initiative, Mrs. Anne Schilter Anderson from Maryland County and Chief Executive Officer of West Africa distributors, told newsman that the Riffelalp Management is happy to engage and extend assistance to the Calvary Baptist Church, whose core champion is to win souls for Christ by spreading the Gospel.

Presenting the item to the Church was the Operations Manager of West Africa Distributor, Joseph Anderson, who promised the beneficiary that the gesture is one of many to come.

Anderson said they will remain engaged with the Church and ensure that they assist in whatsoever program that the Calvary Baptist Church intends to undertake.

As part of its many assistance to Liberia, the Business body has helped several schools, orphanages including local and national institutions with several needed items.

He named furniture, lamps, desks,beds, bedding andchairs, among others with the latest being the modern piano.

Madam Schilter, speaking to reporters, put the total cost of the items donated thus far including shipping at about one hundred thousand United States dollars (US$100,000.00)

Receiving the Piano, Senior Pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, Rev. G. Larque Vaye, lauded Riffelalp Resort Management for what he termed as a timely gesture.According to him, the Piano is very useful to the Church’s Music ministry.

He assured the Business group that the piano will be used for its intended purpose.Keep up your good work and God will continue to bless you, he added.

Riffelalp Resourt is one of the best five star hotels in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Liberian Female Journalist To Launch Book

A Liberian female and award winning journalist, Mae Azango, is expected to launch a book on November 26, 2017.

Mae made the disclosure Tuesday, explaining that the book, titled: “Voice of the Trumpetess,” tells the stories of her childhood, adolescent, youth and adult lives. “The book unveils my struggle with physical abuse, battle with psychological effects, story on my failed marriage, childbirth and many complicated stories of my life that many are going through today,” she said..

Mae noted that the book is focusing on how she started her life as a refugee in Ivory Coast when Liberia was experiencing civil crisis, how she was beaten everyday without any justice, how she was treated in the own home under the leadership of an elected president, her school days and how she made her way into journalism.

The Liberian female journalist said she had not anticipated being a journalist, but dreamed of becoming a hotel manager.  “The University of Liberia’s entrance and placement exams were already over the year I returned to Liberia. So I decided to kill time at the LBS [Liberia Broadcasting System] Journalism School so that I would not be carried way by the environment,” Mae maintained.

According to her, upon understanding the profession and how it allows one to expose ills in society, she created passion for the profession, thus paving the way for her to express the condition of the people in bringing transformation to their cases. “Knowing that pen was mightier than the sword and it helps shrift the destiny of the country, I started to love journalism and this is where it has brought me,” she said.

She continued: “When I found out that using my pen to address issues that were solving problems in my society, I said wow, instead of me stressing vain debating in the streets and at intellectual forums, I can just pen them on the paper, by going into the slumps communities and places where the marginalized groups are found and telling their stories for redress.

The Liberian journalist also indicated that her new book is not only going to explain her stories but also help transform the lives of young people that will read her stories. She said it will also help inspire and motivate lots of young people by boosting their spirit for life and take away barriers in achieving their dreams.

Mae emphasized that her book is going to impact the life of the younger generation in journalism, including girls who do not want to go to school anymore because of some situation or circumstances. She noted that it will serve as motivation to these women and their lives and that she might serve as a role model to young once who find themselves at the bottom line of poverty ladder and have given up hope in life, “If they read my book, they will say ‘if Mae Azango can rise up what is about me’ and my book will serve as motivator to them because what I went through is what young girls are still going through, they have no one to talk to them, but the way I handle mine, they can learn from my experiences.”

Meanwhile, Mae has urged young people, especially girls in the journalism profession to create name for themselves and a reputation to protect. She said being a journalist makes one a public eye and whatever he or she does should merit his or her way and be themselves, indicating, “Once you are a journalist, you are a public eye and you need to be careful with your body and whom you have a relationship with because you have a profession and a name to uphold.”

Mae is a Liberian and an international award-winning journalist whose pen-pushing has trumpeted the voices of the abuse and has forced the hand of the government out of inaction and continues to speak out for justice for the marginalized groups.

A Liberian female and award winning journalist, Mae Azango, is expected to launch a book on November 26, 2017.

Mae made the disclosure Tuesday, explaining that the book, titled: “Voice of the Trumpetess,” tells the stories of her childhood, adolescent, youth and adult lives. “The book unveils my struggle with physical abuse, battle with psychological effects, story on my failed marriage, childbirth and many complicated stories of my life that many are going through today,” she said..

Mae noted that the book is focusing on how she started her life as a refugee in Ivory Coast when Liberia was experiencing civil crisis, how she was beaten everyday without any justice, how she was treated in the own home under the leadership of an elected president, her school days and how she made her way into journalism.

The Liberian female journalist said she had not anticipated being a journalist, but dreamed of becoming a hotel manager.  “The University of Liberia’s entrance and placement exams were already over the year I returned to Liberia. So I decided to kill time at the LBS [Liberia Broadcasting System] Journalism School so that I would not be carried way by the environment,” Mae maintained.

According to her, upon understanding the profession and how it allows one to expose ills in society, she created passion for the profession, thus paving the way for her to express the condition of the people in bringing transformation to their cases. “Knowing that pen was mightier than the sword and it helps shrift the destiny of the country, I started to love journalism and this is where it has brought me,” she said.

She continued: “When I found out that using my pen to address issues that were solving problems in my society, I said wow, instead of me stressing vain debating in the streets and at intellectual forums, I can just pen them on the paper, by going into the slumps communities and places where the marginalized groups are found and telling their stories for redress.

The Liberian journalist also indicated that her new book is not only going to explain her stories but also help transform the lives of young people that will read her stories. She said it will also help inspire and motivate lots of young people by boosting their spirit for life and take away barriers in achieving their dreams.

Mae emphasized that her book is going to impact the life of the younger generation in journalism, including girls who do not want to go to school anymore because of some situation or circumstances. She noted that it will serve as motivation to these women and their lives and that she might serve as a role model to young once who find themselves at the bottom line of poverty ladder and have given up hope in life, “If they read my book, they will say ‘if Mae Azango can rise up what is about me’ and my book will serve as motivator to them because what I went through is what young girls are still going through, they have no one to talk to them, but the way I handle mine, they can learn from my experiences.”

Meanwhile, Mae has urged young people, especially girls in the journalism profession to create name for themselves and a reputation to protect. She said being a journalist makes one a public eye and whatever he or she does should merit his or her way and be themselves, indicating, “Once you are a journalist, you are a public eye and you need to be careful with your body and whom you have a relationship with because you have a profession and a name to uphold.”

Mae is a Liberian and an international award-winning journalist whose pen-pushing has trumpeted the voices of the abuse and has forced the hand of the government out of inaction and continues to speak out for justice for the marginalized groups.

 

 

Ellen, Cronies Protective Political Grasp: “Ex-Allies” Betrayal! …Cataloging CDC, UP Runoff Statistics

 

By T. Michael Johnny 0886571899/0775820581

“Past rhetorical comments such as time for “generational Change” uttered by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the just ended United Nations summit in New York speaks volume of betrayal against Vice President Joseph Boakai; the changing dynamism is part of “protective political grasp concept” following her exit in 2018”,

Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s quest to succeed outgoing Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is reportedly shredded in “thin air” due to his boss inability to partner and elevate the Unity Party (UP) standard bearer’s campaign trail leading to the runoff election on November 7, 2017.

The relationship, which is now seemingly strained between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai dating nearly 12 years, is reportedly shrinking on various fronts based on divided political ideology before the commencement of the campaign activities.

An insider clothed with privileged information from the Executive branch told the In Profile Daily that Vice President Joseph Boakai’s preferred choice of Vice Standard Bearer Emmanuel Nuquay as opposed to ex-Senate Protempore Gbezongar Findley and the expressed protection for her cronies has fuelled speculation of her decision to shun her “trusted” deputy.

Moreover, Vice President Boakai’s misery is further compounded by comments emanating from another staunch ally of Grand Cape Mount Senator Varney Gbotonabi Sherman who currently supports the UP in series of gatherings.

Senator Sherman, who once supported President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s presidential ambition and also ex-chairman of the UP are now reportedly at loggerheads since the disgraceful outburst of the controversial US$950,000 Sable Mining case bribery levied against him, former House Speaker Alex Jenekai Tyler and others.

Aggrievedly, Senator Sherman’s implication and correspondence invitation by Criminal court “C” for investigation couple with “war-of-words” between President Sirleaf’s loyalists and the current Chairman of the UP Wilmot Paye has reportedly given leverage to the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of former football icon Senator George Manneh Weah.

The rather strained relationship among the former UP allies in person of President Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph, Senator Varney Sherman and party Chairman Wilmot Paye has reportedly dampening the campaign of Vice President Joseph Boakai.

“Past rhetorical comments such as time for “generational Change” uttered by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the just ended United Nations summit in New York speaks volume of betrayal against Vice President Joseph Boakai; the changing dynamism is part of “protective political grasp concept” following her exit in 2018”, said an official of the UP on condition of anonymity.

In his expressed opinion, the UP official accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of manipulating the outcome of the October 10, 2017, representatives and presidential elections, which the CDC snatched 38.7%, while the UP received 28.6% of the total votes to push the contest for runoff.

According to the official, President Sirleaf is aggrieved that her wish of maximum protection from alleged shady deals during the party’s 12 years of leadership, accommodation for cronies, immunity for selected officials wrapped in corruption allegation including Robert Sirleaf, who is now reportedly supporting the opposition are factors that has divided the party.

President Sirleaf has been conspicuously absent from the campaign activities of Vice President Joseph Boakai and has also engaged in pronouncement such as “time for generational change” as words that has led to the lackluster performance of the UP in several Counties including Montserrado.

Besides Lofa and Nimba Counties where the UP topped the CDC, the opposition massively overwhelmed their main rival in the South East and Central Liberian with the CDC also defeating the UP in the stronghold of Vice Standard bearer Emmanuel Nuquay in Margibi County.

Moreover, the CDC also slightly captured more seats at the House of Representatives ahead of the UP, Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and other political parties to hold majority at the lower House in preparation of the 54th National Legislature.

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LACC Investigation Compromised? …Brewerville-Bopolu Road Report Halted, But LACC Reacts

By Abraham Morris-23188624820-abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

An ongoing investigation into the construction of Brewerville-Bopolu road project conducted by the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) is reportedly halted by its Chairman Cllr. James Verdier, upon President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s instruction.

 

But in reaction, the LACC Boss in an email communication to the In Profile Daily, vehemently denied the allegation and termed the information as “so-called” and news to his ears because it lacks an ounce of truth associated and referenced to him.

 

During an interview with unnamed official of LACC  said an investigation was launched into a contract awarded by the Ministry of Public Works when a former Deputy Minister (name withheld), reportedly called for a Bid of Quantity (BoQ) from Liberian construction firms Westwood and Solid Rocks presented a BoQ of US$3.5millions, but was reportedly rejected because the then Deputy Minister had allegedly contacted Tony Lawal, owner of Pealat Construction to register another company under the name Praise Gloria Lawal (PGL) Construction Company to enable him win the bid.

Accordingly, the source hinted that when Lawal registered the PGL Construction Company, the contract was reportedly awarded him with an unjustified rise of US$5.5millions.

Hence, the source divulged that when former Public Works Minister Antoinette Weeks took over the ministry, she reportedly put hold on the contract due to its alleged dubious and unjustified nature.

The source further hinted that prior to Minister Weeks departure from the ministry, she reported the case to the LACC for investigation due to the alleged dubious nature of the rise in the contract as well as the manner and form in which the contract was awarded and the contractor’s previous work history on the Belle Yallah road.

Therefore, the source further hinted that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the LACC wrote Minister Moore to discontinue contract until a full scale audit and investigation is concluded.

The LACC and GAC, according to the insider, further wrote the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), not to issue or disburse a dime on the contract.

Accordingly, the source intimated that since Minister Moore took over the ministry and further allegedly increased the contract for which he was subject to investigation by the LACC.

Additionally, Minister Moore was invited more than thrice along with his lawyer to show the road works been done by the company that necessitated the rise of the contract from US$ 3.5million to US$5.5million and then US$9.5millions.

The LACC insider hinted that Minister Moore reportedly told the LACC investigators that the road was expanded from its previous size; however, the source averred that when LACC took an independent engineer on the road, there were no sign of expansion for which there was an addendum in the contract.

When the In Profile Daily contacted Minister Moore via mobile phone for his reaction to these claims, Minister Moore reply via text saying: “How many times or what the LACC investigates is not my business. To be honest, I don’t care. I have a job to do and focused on it. PGL has a contract to build the road from Brewerville to Bopolu. They won the contract before I became Minister. That contract was expanded as a notice to proceed. Again, this happen before I became Minister.”

Minister Moore continued: “Under my leadership, the expanded contract was regularized and reduced by US$1million. It is just cynical to report absolute nonsense that is not base on actual fact. Have a nice day.”

The LACC source said the alleged halt of the Public Works Minister was due to the involvement of several top officials of government as well as close family members of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

But Cllr. Verdier in further reactions noted: “I have not placed a hold on any investigation; no investigation for that matter is “on hold.” An investigation involving the Ministry of Public Works is progressing unhindered with no interruptions. I would be pleased to see from you or your so-called anonymous source, any evidence demonstrating intent to disrupt said investigation on my part. This is false and so non-existent.”

He furthered: “That I received bribes on two occasions from persons I don’t even know and have not met? I am not only challenging you, but I also pleading with you to make public, the name of the govt official and those Bank accounts. Why are you withholding them? I urge you to make these evidence available immediately. I can assure you that I have not and will never indulge in such “out of character” conduct. There has been no report submitted to my office or the Body of Commissioners, which has been withheld. This is falsehood, this is malicious and it is wicked.”

Cllr. Verdier, in further reaction, also stated that: “I have not met with nor had any discussion with President Johnson-Sirleaf since the LACC launched a one-day training workshop for targeted government of Liberia personnel who were designated to handle asset declaration filing in the three branches of government. This workshop was held at the Corina hotel and it took place sometime in July 2017. Her Excellency attended and launched that workshop.”

He continued: “Mr. Morris, I can also assure you that you are not going to get this level of attention from me again, if you are going to engage in such cheap journalism. I would appreciate that you will confront me with evidence of these so-called “anonymous accusers” present to you before giving such attention to share lies and destructive plans. These cowards only intended to malign and discredit a worthy public servant who continues to uphold integrity, demonstrate rectitude and promote probity in public service. On the other hand, my office remains open and available to work with you all in the media as we undertake the onerous tasks of educating, investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption in Liberia.”

Meanwhile, investigation continues………..

Today Marks UN’s 72nd Anniversary

Today Marks UN’s 72nd Anniversary Read more

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What Can Liberia Learn From China’s Trade Zones; The Case of Kunshan Economic & Technological Development Zone

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

The blossoming flowers and friendly weather in this part of China are just a symbol of how Kunshan serves as one of the fulcrums of China’s economic growth and development. Some Liberians may say that the country is not in the position now like China to establish special economic zones (SEZs) due to the lack of revenue backing.

However, what Liberians need is to be able to receive and make use of the technology and knowledge transfers with a clear and implementable vision. There are prospects for the country based on its natural resources. Furthermore, Liberia and China friendship has strengthened in recent years with serious growth in trade volume.

It is good to start somewhere. And for me, and others may agree, it is optimistic that the country will move on par with other developing countries if both governors and governed are willing to learn from countries the like China, that had experienced similar situations some years ago.

With the most-touted publicity in strengthening the private sector, fundamental activities such as establishing special economic zones, guided by special policies could serve as a foundation for making this sector vibrant.

Special economic zones are geographically designated trade areas that are used to attract foreign investors and boost industrialization. They generally have trade laws that differ from the rest of the country and companies are offered tax incentives to set up operations.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), under its “Belt and Road” Initiative, is partnering with African countries to scale up industrialization on the continent in addition to China’s infrastructure development projects – the “Three Major Networks” of railway, road and regional aviation. I believe that China’s own experience in industrial development through the special economic zones offers valuable lessons.

Chinese former Ambassador to Liberia and Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao, in his article published in the CHINAFRICAN Magazine, urged African countries to be ready to receive the technology and knowledge transfers. “Africa can do what China has done; China’s today can be Africa’s tomorrow,” Amb. Zhou stated.

In 2016, during our (22 African journalists) tour to Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, we visited several economic zones and other institutions.

But the flourishing features of the Kunshan Economic & Technological Development Zone  (KETD), opening economic opportunities for foreigners, coupled with the historical periods of its reforms explained by authorities, made it a great lesson for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in general, and Liberia in specific.

Though it is in Jiangsu Province, Kunshan is situated in the Shanghai Economic Zone, with the metropolitan city Shanghai to the east and the renowned ancient city Suzhou to the west. .

Leading our tour in the different areas of the zone, official said KETD zone has a number of well-developed national-level functional zones, including a free trade zone, an opto-electronics industry park and an incubation park for Chinese overseas students. A number of other industry parks are also under development, including parks respectively dedicated to robotics, finance, creativity, advanced technology commercialization and food processing. These functional zones and industry parks are shaping a geographical distribution of economic activities characterized by “two axes, two belts, two cores and multiple parks”, which are increasingly facilitating city-industry integration.

By end of 2015, KETD had attracted 2,170 investment projects, with a total value of US$ 36.3 billion and registered capital of US$19.4 billion, from 47 countries and regions, including Europe, America, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

It hosts more than 10,000 domestic companies, with more than RMB 50 billion in registered capital, which concentrate in five pillar industries: electronics and information, optoelectronic display, precision machinery, equipment manufacturing and light industry. KETD has been successively honored as a national model in intellectual property-driven development and business incubation for overseas talent. It is also selected by the provincial government as a model in innovation and IT-industry integration and scores the highest in institutional innovation among national-level EDZs in China. For consecutive years, KETD has been ranked among the top four national-level EDZs by the Ministry of Commerce for its overall competitiveness.

The efforts of the Kunshan government is to ensure a stable and healthy economic and social development, and to consequently transform the city into what some traders called one of the best places to work, live and do business in China. As an open industrial and commercial metropolis, Kunshan has remained at the forefront of the nation’s reform and opening-up policy in the past decades.

Moreover, Kunshan has adopted a series of proactive policies in an strategic plan to develop a modern service industry as part of a drive to upgrade its industrial structure.

For example, the government has streamlined examination and approval procedures to better serve investors. All the applications are required to be examined within a time limit.

This new reform is in line with a circular issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, saying that China will ease the permanent resident permit application process for foreigners. “Qualification for residence should be flexible and pragmatic,” the circular noted.

Accordingly, KETD was first established in 1984. It was approved as a provincial-level economic development zone (EDZ) in 1991 and as a national-level EDZ in August 1992. Covering an area of 115 sq km, KETD is home to a population of 635,000. Since its birth, KETD has been liberalizing its ways and deepening reforms, taking the lead among its peers in economic diversification, functional innovation and EDZ urbanization.

China introduced special economic zones in the 1970s as part of its policy to open up to international trade. Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms became the turning point towards a market-oriented economy. A series of experiments, including the establishment of special economic zones, became the driving force for growth.

This inspired African countries and became the rationale to establish Chinese led-SEZs (special economic zones) in Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, Zambia and Ethiopia in the mid-2000s. More African countries are planning to establish special economic zones. In South Africa, the Special Economic Zones Act has been passed and ten selected.

About the author

Fredrick P. W. Gaye is IN PROFILE DAILY’s Editor for News & Editorial Services. Gaye is also a fellow of the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) Annual Media and Cultural Exchange Fellowship 2016. He can be reached at: fgaye.inprofile@gmail.com

 

American Islamic Cleric Converts 22 Persons

By Mafanta Kromah

A visiting American Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Khalid Yasin, has converted 22 persons to Islam. The 12 males and 10 females willingly accepted the Islamic faith Sunday, October 22, 2017, after hear powerful messages from Yasin at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia.

In his message, Yasin exhorted both Muslims and Christians to stand together to protect their families, communities and their society Liberia and to let go vices and differences, stressing that Liberia is greater than vices and differences.

The American Islamic Cleric spoke of the importance for Muslims not to, in any way, forget the teaching of the Messengers: Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and all other prophets (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon them) that came on mission for God. Yasin was quick to remind that they all spoke about scriptures and Liberia needs to live by the scriptures.

“Islam is a religion of peace but the media opportunists have used their airwaves to misinterpret the religion,” the Islamic Cleric claimed. “This has led to the misconception of many about the religion, Islam.”

The born Christian turned Muslim Scholar encouraged Muslims and Christians to join together in heart, minds and hands to protect Liberia and should not allow the lower elements to destroy the prosperity of Liberia, “We ask the Almighty God to bless your land and its leaders and all other citizens to greatness.”

He noted that Muslims and Christians need to compete in behavior, in the investment of resources and compete with their faith to make Liberia one of the best and most beautiful and prosperous countries in Africa.

“It is not my job to defend Islam from those uneducated ones that are carrying misinterpretation about the religion, because a clean water in a clean glass does not need to be defended because the water can defend itself,” he noted.

He continued,”If you take a clouded, colorful and mixture of water in a glass near a clean and pure water of glass, the pure water of glass does not need to defend itself at all.” He said that is to say the Quran is clean and Islam is pure so it does not need to be defended by anyone, noting that Muslims and those that accept Islam also need to be pure.

Yasin emphasized that the “law enforcers cannot expect to be respected if they themselves are acting like the criminals, your government that are leading this country cannot expect to be respected if they are destroying the resources of your country and Muslims should not expect themselves to be respected if they themselves are misrepresenting the Quran and the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbbuh).

He said Muslims are not example of Islam but are humans, noting that true Muslims and Christians need not to defend Mohammed and Jesus (Pbbuh). “You all need to be grateful and respect the constitution of your country, if you want your country to be dignify, you need to lead your country with an example,” he narrated.

At the same time, Yasin maintained that the youth should go to school and get education. He encouraged the youth to get a life plan or someone else may plan for them.

He said Africans live in Africa but the key is in another people hands, indicating that if Africans want God to help, they need to change their minds and behavior so that Allah will help them ‘get the key of Africa back’.

“With education and dignity, we can get the Africa we all want. Thirty percent of the natural resources in the world is from Africa but the people of Africa are not concentrating or committed to handling the key of Africa,”

He cautioned Muslims to extend their hands to the Christians because they both deal with scriptures and Liberia and its people need to lead by the scriptures.

Sheikh Khalid Yasin, also known Abu Mohammed, is a born Christian converted to Islam. He has converted many to the Islamic religion and has traveled to many countries including Liberia to spread the faith.