What seems without an iota of hesitation, the urgent need to make Africa the fulcrum of the United States (US) sealed deal of genuine partnership for the betterment of both Africa and US has been revealed seriously backed with some US$55bn to improve several areas of development, cooperation, and partnership on a win-win platform.
At the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit championed by US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., almost all African leaders that are upholding the tenets of democracy and other factors of good governance, with the exception of Guinea, Bokina Faso, and Mali, were invited to Washington D.C. to join their colleagues chart a new most focused relationship through partnership, has broken significant fresh grounds of mutual trust and unpretentious partnership.
Addressing the summit earlier which ends today, Liberian President George M. Weah recalled that Liberia has a long and historic relationship with the United States, which has led Liberia to have common positions on issues such as democracy, human rights, global peace, and security.
President Weah indicated that; “we hold the view that this Summit will strengthen our partnership and increase our commitment to foster stronger cooperation in seeking the broad interest of our respective countries in particular and the world at large”.
According to Dr. Weah, this Summit should also reinforce our continued true partnership and friendship with the United States. This should enable us to redefine and reset our urgent priorities in economic, social, and political engagements that will serve as the reinforcement of our genuine commitment to democracy, human rights, transparency and good governance.
Liberia believes that such engagements between Africa and the United States will improve and strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships, and foster peace and security on the continent of Africa, President Weah added.
Touching on the issue of millions of African descendants and immigrants in the diaspora, the Liberian Leader pointed out that there is no doubt that this is a vast reservoir of talent, training, expertise, and financial capacity which must and should be utilized to enhance the advancement and development of our Continent.
He said, this collaborative effort will serve as the bridge connecting Africans in the diaspora back to their collective roots and cultural identities.
Accordingly, it is therefore incumbent upon us as leaders to recognize and acknowledge the significance of these many millions of our compatriots living in the diaspora communities, whose contributions are pivotal to the growth and development of our continent.
The Liberian Chief Executive intoned that although physically separated from the motherland, they have a major influence on the socio-economic, cultural, and political landscape of their respective countries, which should not be overlooked or under-estimated.
He recounted that “in recognition of the value of our Liberian diaspora community, at the inception of my administration nearly five (5) years ago, I embarked upon the process of removing restrictive laws to encourage the Liberian diaspora to contribute more to the development of our country”.
President Weah also noted that “today, I am pleased to inform you that, in July of this year, I signed into law an Act authorizing dual citizenship and allowing women to pass citizenship to their children. By so doing, my administration has now removed all legal barriers which had prevented natural-born Liberians from rightfully resuming citizenship of the land of their ancestors” adding, “ONCE A LIBERIAN, ALWAYS A LIBERIAN”!
Dr. Weah narrated that this is a “demonstration of my Government’s commitment to ensure that our diaspora is not left out in the national reconstruction and development of Liberia. We consider the Liberian diaspora community as a valuable asset to our nation’s growth and development, and their full participation is an important part of the nation-building process”.
He observes that Africa’s future ought to be bright. “We have the potential to turn around the grim outlook of the continent that is presented in the news daily. With more than 60 percent of Africans being young people, we have the demographic dividend capable of making our region responsive to the needs of its people.”
He said that the role young people and the general African diaspora must play in addressing the needs of the continent must be through, innovation, investment and knowledge transfer.
“It is often said in Africa that young people are our future leaders. But I have observed that not much opportunities are created to allow them to reach their full potential. This has made a growing number of them to seek opportunities here in the West, where they have acquired quality education and useful skills in order to contribute to the development and advancement of society”, Pres. Weah maintains.
I believe that young people are capable of conquering the world if given a place to stand. From a poor and humble background growing up in the slums of Gibraltar in Liberia, I managed through hard work, discipline and determination to climb to the top of my career as a professional footballer, he explains.
Regarding giving back to his country in particular, and Africa in general, President Weah stated that while pursuing his professional career in the diaspora myself, “I took back many investments to my home country, Liberia, Zanzibar, Cote D’Ivoire and other parts of Africa. I invested in many businesses and I invested in human capital by supporting many young people in acquiring education to enable them advance their lives and have a livelihood”.
And so today I say to the youth of Africa, you can also succeed in your chosen fields of endeavor if you are prepared to be diligent, disciplined, and determined, he threw out his challenge.
He cautions African governments that they must also create the enabling environment and the requisite framework that will allow our young people in the diaspora to contribute, through their education and innovation, to the transformation of our beloved continent.
“Our brothers and sisters in the diaspora are indispensable partners in the development aspirations of our various countries. We must welcome them. We must embrace them. We must recognize them. Africans in the diaspora and Africans in Africa are one people” said Pres. Weah.
He added that we can succeed if we allow peace to reign. And, we can succeed if we lay the framework for our young people to have a smooth transition in the democratic process.