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July, 2017


“President” J. Emmanuel Nuquay? Lord, Help Liberia and the Liberian People

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh          

J. Emmanuel Nuquay is the current Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives.

Mr. Nuquay is also the running mate of the current vice president Joseph Boakai, who is running to be the next president of Liberia.

Nuquay could be President of Liberia.

Scary, indeed.

Before his selection as the vice-presidential running mate of the slumberous septuagenarian Boakai, the once obscure Nuquay represented Margibi County in the House, and later became Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Nuquay became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2016 after the disgraced Speaker Alex Tyler was removed from office for his sleazy role in the Global Witness Sable Mining investigation, which accused Tyler of receiving a $75,000 bribe.

Anxious and nakedly ambitious to climb the political ladder in a country where only the strong, sleazy and powerful political and non-political hustler can survive, the 48-year old Nuquay once a member of the ruling Unity Party in his previous political life, conveniently resigned from the Unity party and co-founded the People’s Unification Party (PUP).

What became of Nuquay and his People’s Unification Party for him to suddenly and shamelessly become the running mate of Vice President Joseph Boakai and his ruling Unity Party in this year’s electoral fervor to surpass 15 others in the selection process, is left to our speculation.

Because these are two distinct individuals with (I guess) different ideas, beliefs, values and vision for Liberia that supposed to set them apart politically.
They are also from two different political parties (Unity Party and People’s Unification Party), that supposed to have different political values, beliefs, platforms and goals for the country and the Liberian people.

Any political conviction?

Does it matter anyway in Liberian politics when ideas, values, goals, beliefs, vision and political platforms are thrown out the windows to satisfy the opportunistic and self-centered political ambitions of a politician?

A possible answer for this blatant disregard of political norms and convictions on the part of Nuquay, and Mr. Boakai’s selection of Nuquay (as the rumor mill suggests) could be bribery and the payment of $2 million that Nuquay allegedly paid the Boakai camp to get the selection.

As it was with Alex Tyler whom he succeeded as Speaker, Nuquay was embroiled in his own controversies regarding his dubious role in the passage of the 4-G multi-year Farmington Hotel tax break deal, his close and suspicious ties to the powerful Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, and the insensitive and disjointed rant he made about fellow Liberians after he was chosen by Boakai, raised eyebrows.

“People coming they want job but it’s not our business to give our job to them, to give our birthright to them. So we will never, never ever do that. If they come with rudeness, if they exhibit rudeness; but one thing I have said which I want to reiterate, let them bear in mind that whether it is one month from now, its two years from now, its three years from now, its five years from now, it’s ten years from now, they will pay the price for their rudeness. I’ve said this and I’m saying this consistently and I will do it no matter heaven open, this the time for them to exhibit rudeness? After October 11, it will be our time, from October 11 going, it will be our time,” Nuquay reportedly said.

Is this guy, Nuquay, serious? How did he get to be Speaker or a Vice-Presidential running mate, in the first place?

Really, Liberia?

How low can the bar be?

However, when he was confronted about his suspicious legislative dealings with the Farmington Hotel bill and the Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, Nuquay said:

“First of all, let me establish that I’m not engaged in any business anywhere or at no point in time have I been engaged in a business venture with any Lebanese; I have never been engaged with any business with a Lebanese either here in Liberia – or in any part of this world.”

Vice President Joseph Boakai’s judgment is an issue here for choosing Nuquay as his running mate amid his volatile comments and his dealings; and he (Boakai) hasn’t demonstrated an intellectual and policy grasp for the office he wants to be elected to in the upcoming elections.

Nuquay, the man he chose as his running mate is completely out of touch, lack intellectual depth, cocky and reckless in his dealings and his utterances like a drunken sailor grasping for air to survive in a stormy sea.

Most Liberian politicians, as is already known, are not politically and emotionally connected to their constituents, and are not even held responsible for what they say or do. As a result, they usually get away with “murder” and not accountable to the voters.

Joseph Boakai is at an age (72 years old) of retirement – or he should have retired by now. Is Mr. Boakai preparing the way for J. Emmanuel Nuquay to be President of Liberia?

Lord, help Liberia and the Liberian people.

There is a serious need for new leaders – serious, respectful, caring, smart and issue-driven/development-driven leaders who are accountable to the Liberian people.

There is also a need for leaders who understands policy and can deliver. Liberia is not the place for apprenticeship, nor a place for cockiness.

We’ve had too many of those already in Liberia’s 170 years as a sovereign nation.

Category: Editorial, News Headlines


Library of Congress Control Number:
ISBN: 978-0-913491-41-6

My new book, Liberian Democracy Ambushed, is out. It is about us, our politicians, our progressives and our intellectuals. It is about how they held democracy hostage, ambushed it, destroyed our country, and how we helped them along the way.

August 2017 issue of African Business Review is now live!

The August edition of African Business Review is now live.

Dominating the cover this month is Umeme, Uganda’s principal power provider and a company that as recently as 2010 was “haemorrhaging power”, according to CIO Eamonn Furniss. The company has been on an incredible journey to transform its fortunes since then, led by Furniss and his management colleagues, and African Business Review.has the full story.

Also in the August issue, we travel the continent taking a look at the most popular holiday destinations for Africans and investigate ambitious plans for Morocco’s main airport.

And we deliver deep insights into the success factors driving businesses forward across Africa, including the Egyptian Mining Company, Eskom Energy, Hummingbird Resources and Cupric Africa.


OPEC oil output jumps to 2017 high on further Libya recovery

* OPEC output rises by 90,000 bpd to 33.00 million bpd

* July compliance by 11 countries with output targets 84 pct

* June compliance revised lower to 77 pct on Saudi, Iraqi output

* For output by country, compliance details:

By Alex Lawler

LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) – OPEC oil output has risen this month by 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a 2017 high, a Reuters survey found, led by a further recovery in supply from Libya, one of the countries exempt from a production-cutting deal.

A dip in supply from Saudi Arabia and lower Angolan exports helped to boost OPEC’s adherence to its supply curbs to 84 percent. While this is up from a revised 77 percent in June, compliance in both months has fallen from levels above 90 percent earlier in the year.

The extra oil from Libya means supply by the 13 OPEC members originally part of the deal has risen far above their implied production target. Libya and Nigeria were exempt from the cuts because conflict had curbed their production.

A gain in Libyan and Nigerian output has added to the challenge the OPEC-led effort is facing to get rid of excess supply on world markets. To address this, ministers at a July 24 meeting moved to cap Nigerian output and officials are holding talks next week on improving compliance.

“There is a need to align all countries to achieve full compliance,” a source close to OPEC said of the compliance talks, which will be held on Aug. 7-8 in Abu Dhabi.

As part of a deal with Russia and other non-members, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is reducing output by about 1.2 million bpd from Jan. 1, 2017 until March next year.

High compliance with the deal, and much-reduced output in the exempt countries, pushed supply lower earlier in the year. But extra Libya and Nigerian production has prompted output to rise since May, and adherence has slipped in some other countries.

July’s biggest rise came from Libya, where output, curbed by years of conflict and unrest, rose to an average of more than 1 million bpd. Production remains short of the 1.6 million bpd Libya pumped before its 2011 civil war.

Iraqi supply was revised up for June and in July output has edged higher, the survey found. Supply also increased slightly in the United Arab Emirates, Gabon and Ecuador – which said it planned to pump more, citing its lack of funds.

Among countries with lower output, the biggest decline was in Angola, which exported 50 cargoes, two less than in June. August volumes are expected to increase.

Nigeria pumped slightly less in July after an increase in June, partly due to a force majeure on Bonny crude exports. Growth could resume next month if exports reach the planned rate of at least 2 million bpd.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia pumped 50,000 bpd less, the survey found, although output in June was revised higher to just above its OPEC target. The reduction achieved by OPEC’s biggest producer in July is back above the target cut of 486,000 bpd.

OPEC announced a production target of 32.50 million bpd last year, which was based on low figures for Libya and Nigeria. The target includes Indonesia, which has since left OPEC, and does not include Equatorial Guinea, the latest country to join OPEC.

The Libyan and Nigerian increases mean OPEC output in July averaged 32.85 million bpd, about 1.1 million bpd above its supply target, adjusted to remove Indonesia and not including Equatorial Guinea.

With Equatorial Guinea added, total OPEC production in July has reached 33.0 million bpd.

The Reuters survey is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Thomson Reuters flows data, and information provided by sources at oil companies, OPEC and consulting firms. (Reporting by Alex Lawler, with additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Jane Merriman)

Kenya's fake news epidemic adds to electoral violence fears

It’s campaign season in Narok, a sleepy town of 40,000 that serves as the gateway to Kenya’s world-famous Masai Mara game reserve. Dozens of Land Rovers plastered with the faces of political aspirants zoom up and down the town’s main road as bewildered Chinese tourists look on.

In this economically vital part of Kenya, tensions are rising between political supporters ahead of the country’s general election on 8 August. Here, the prospect of electoral violence is among the highest in the country, according to independent government-funded agencies.

Kenya’s national vote will see 19.6 million electors chose between 14,523 candidates – more than ever before. The presidential race pits President Uhuru Kenyatta against long-time opposition leader Raila Odinga. But it is tensions around local races, which are important because of Kenya’s devolution of government, that have got observers worried.

As in the US and Europe, in Kenya the rise of social media has changed the way election campaigns are run.

“Social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp – is really helping the aspirants,” says James Nakola, 31, chairman of YouthLink Narok, a local youth organisation. Nakola says politicians use social media metrics to see how many supporters they have. “But social media is 50% true and 50% false,” he adds.

The prevalence of fake news and hate speech on social media is influencing how voters assess the likelihood that their candidates will win. About 90% of Kenyans have seen fake news in this year’s campaign, according to a survey by GeoPoll and Portland.

Last week, two fake news segments that were purported to have been aired on the BBC and CNN went viral. Both tried to spread the claim that new opinion polls had been released showing that Kenyatta will handily beat Odinga.

“The whole point of these fake polls is to persuade people that they’re on the winning side,” says Charles Hornby, author of Kenya: A History Since Independence. “They’re trying to persuade people that their respective candidates are going to win.”

But if the result is significantly different to what is anticipated, violence could break out around the perception that the election has been rigged, experts say.

Another post on Facebook that went viral said that 3.5m ballot papers that had been marked in favour of Kenyatta were being stored at an army barracks in Nairobi. “We are asking patriotic Kenyans to share this message widely,” it said.

“This fake news is horrible,” says Hassan Mohamed, head of Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), a government agency founded after the 2007 post-election crisis. “The whole idea is just to scare people and increase voter turnout – that’s happening a lot.”

One major challenge is that many Kenyans don’t understand what an authentic news source should look like. “We have that problem,” Mohamed says. “People have not matured to that level where they can differentiate between fake and real news.”

Facebook took out full-page ads in national newspapers as part of a campaign to educate the electorate about fake news in the hope that it won’t spread.

Secret weapon

Some Kenyans are wondering if Cambridge Analytica, a British company that worked with President Donald Trump’s campaign in the US and the ‘Leave’ campaign in the Brexit vote in the UK, could be behind the spread of fake news in the run-up to the polls. While the company proudly touts its role in Kenyatta’s election in the country’s last election, it has been silent about media reports that it is involved in his campaign this time around.

Privacy International, a UK-based charity, has written to Cambridge Analytica asking for more information about its role in Kenya’s election.

“If they’re operating like they are elsewhere, it would be essentially doing a large-scale survey and original data gathering,” says Claire Lauterbach, head of research and investigations at Privacy International. “That’s what I understand to be the case in Kenya, but Cambridge Analytica hasn’t confirmed anything about exactly what their model is, what data sources they would be gathering and using.”

Cambridge Analytica did not respond to a request for comment on its role in Kenya’s election campaign.

Hate speech worries

Many Kenyans are worried that social media has created a new platform for hate speech. There are 10 pending hate speech lawsuits, all of which involve social media, according to the NCIC.

One woman took to Facebook to advocate for the genocide of the Kikuyu ethnic group, who are perceived to be the richest in the country. “She said if she knew when the Kikiyus were coming from Central Africa, she would have used a nuclear bomb to finish them,” the NCIC’s Mohamed says.

The NCIC has hired a team of five social media monitors to work alongside the national police’s cyber crimes unit. “It’s just a drop in the ocean,” Mohamed says. “The problem is the finances. You also need a lot of software, which is very expensive.”

Moving forward, new rules and regulations should be adopted to combat the misuse of social media, says Andrew Limo, spokesman for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Kenya’s electoral body. “Nobody has brought in any legislation about social media,” he says. “We haven’t understood how powerful it can be.”

Don’t be Economical with the Truth, Otherwise, Fresh Voter Registration is Eminent

By Josiah Flomo Joekai, Jr.       

Liberia is at the crossroads and it is not a choice but an imperative for some of us who are conscientious to ensure that the right thing is done to consolidate the hard-earned peace that we currently enjoy.

I am fully committed to this well-intentioned course and that is exactly why I am not only discussing this critical national issue regarding the reported problems that have inundated the current voters roll on radio, but equally making sure that my thoughts or opinions are meticulously written for easy access and reference in seeking genuine solutions.

The fact is that the voters roll has multiple problems beyond the total number of 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, when he appeared before the Liberian Senate.

The NEC boss averred that his reported 13,000 omissions on the Provisional Registration Roll are not alarming as being claimed by some well-meaning Liberians, including me. Thus, there is no need for Liberians to panic.
Conversely, the unadulterated fact is that the 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman are not just untrue but constitute a fragment of the different issues that have beset the credibility of the roll.

Certainly, I am already panicking and I have no doubt that many of my fellow compatriots are also deeply concerned thus becoming frightened. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our citizens do not comprehend the extent of these problems and their implications for the conduct of the October, 2017 polls. The imbalance in the public understanding of the extent of this issue further strengthened my resolve to enlighten the public by raising the much needed awareness on the voters roll controversy.

Omissions on the Provisional Registration Roll

The Commission through its Chairman, Cllr. Korkoya has denied that the omissions on the provisional roll are alarming declaring that they only amount to 13,000. The Chairman’s report on this matter which is causing so much apprehension amongst the citizenry has to be published in keeping with the practice of the Commission to allay fears and instill trust and confidence in the electoral process.

It would be in the best interest of the Commission and nation were the Chairman to present to the Senate and publish in local dailies a breakdown of omissions per county using a spreadsheet that further provides details per registration center. However, I have no doubt that this is not easily going to happen simply because it will invalidate the 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman. The truth of the matter is that this does not represent the total number of omissions reported from magisterial offices across the country following the close of the exhibition exercise.

For the sake of the records, let’s take a look at a tip of the iceberg

Gbarpolu County for example with just three electoral districts, there is a little over 4,000 omissions reported. This by all accounts constitutes alarming omissions in a county with a little over 45,000 registered voters (2017 Provisional Registration Roll).

It is absolutely unprecedented in our electoral history and must not be sugar-coated. No one needs to be a Rocket Scientist to understand that this situation is a recipe for chaos if it remains unattended. By this figure, one can infer that taking into account the large numbers of registered voters in bigger counties like Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Bassa, 13,000 is grossly understated. The Chairman cannot be economical with the truth knowing very well that it has far-reaching consequences.

Existence of Additional Names on the Provisional Registration Roll

As I mentioned earlier, the roll does not only reflect omitted names or particulars but the names of individuals who were not originally registered during the Voters Registration exercise from February 1-March 14, 2017.

Take for instance GBAHN Registration Center with Code 33180 in Nimba County originally registered 1519 persons but the Provisional Roll showed 1650 registered voters with an increase of 131 registered voters. This is a situation that cuts across the entire roll. Interestingly, these names are within the system and will be difficult to identify since they are recorded under the same center code with those who were originally registered.

Like the omissions, this is a recipe for manipulating the roll and setting the stage for illegal voting in October, which will eventually culminate into electoral fraud. The million dollar question is how did the names appear on the roll, particularly in a disaggregated manner at various centers where the individuals concerned were not originally registered in the first place?

Whether or not this unacceptable act was done knowingly or unknowingly, the Commission is yet to inform the public about this dimension of the voters roll emergency.

The NEC Chairman’s Statement and its Implications for the October Polls

Chairman Korkoya’s June 14, 2017 statement that citizens with valid voter cards will vote on Election Day whether or not their names are on the roll is consistent with the current voters roll controversy. The Chairman’s statement undermines the integrity of the voters roll. It is inconsistent with the standard of maintaining a credible roll. Thus, it is counterproductive to credible elections in October, 2017 thereby creating the need for urgent intervention.

In the first place, how does one obtain a valid card when his or her information is not captured on the roll? The profile of the voter established by a credible voters roll confirms the validity of the voter card. In so doing, one can safely say that the Chairman’s statement is a paradox because maintaining a credible roll is one of the basic standards in electioneering that any staff or technician must fundamentally understand. In fact, to simply put it, without credible voters roll there will be no free and fair election.

Besides, this principle of maintaining a credible voters roll is also guaranteed by Article 77(b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia mandating the Commission to ensure that voters are eligible by being registered. It goes without saying that it was not necessary for the government to spend resources on the just ended exhibition exercise if one will vote using his or her cards without being captured by the roll. Hence, making such policy statement that is consistent with the problems associated with the voters roll only point to the dangers that loom over October, 2017 polls. Now the picture is even clearer thus corroborating the Chairman’s statement and the credibility questions that have plagued the voters roll.
The Jonathan K. Weedor (Commissioner) Factor

In his 15 June 2017 position statement disassociating himself from Chairman Korkoya’s statement, Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor unambiguously underlined that “there are several problems associated with the current Provisional Registration Roll ranging from the omission of hundreds, if not thousands of names to missing photos and profiles of registrants.”

Commissioner Weedor furthered that the Chairman’s statement is alarming, disturbing and troubling because according to him, a reliable and credible Final Registration Roll is a cardinal requirement for every free, fair and transparent election. He even affirmed that he was not part of the decision to hold the press conference and was shocked when the Chairman made the pronouncement.

It is no doubt that the move by Commissioner Weedor and his assertions do not only invalidate Chairman Korkoya’s claims of 13,000 omissions but are strong indications of lack of unity and coherence amongst Commissioners. This misunderstanding at the level of Commissioners speaks to serious leadership crisis at the Commission and I find it incomprehensible to believe that such thing is occurring at a time when a crucial national decision-making process is at hand. The Commissioner’s position is not just an ordinary insider statement but one that comes from a policy decision-maker which makes it grave thus necessitating urgent attention.

Undeniably, Commissioner Weedor is by far the most hands-on, knowledgeable and experienced Commissioner of the seven Commissioners including the current Chairman himself. Commissioner Weedor has been at the NEC since 2005, and has played a pivotal role in the management of elections to present. The wealth of experience he possesses is an asset that the Commission should adequately tap into especially at this critical juncture of our political transition. To hear from him in this manner raises a number of credibility questions.

It beats my imagination that key stakeholders including political parties and civil society organizations are very silent on this crucial national issue. Consistent advocacy and engagement with the Commission to ascertain the facts with the aim of addressing this problem must be an immediate priority.

In particular, with the irregularities that attended the entire voter registration exercise such as illegal registration activities, use of non-serialized Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) forms, limited professional capacity and the disorderly arrangement of the forms, stakeholders are to painstakingly follow up on every step of the finalization of the voters roll. Unfortunately, that is not happening. This is paramount because the Impartiality and transparency of the Commission can only be guaranteed if these institutions follow up with the Commission on every step of the way.

Indisputably, this is a critical national issue which has attracted tremendous attention. That is exactly why in no uncertain terms any Liberian should be allowed to vote without being accounted for by the voters roll. The reported omissions are not just in the fives, tens but hundreds and thousands. If this is anything to go by, it cannot in anyway be taken lightly since many Liberians stand to be disenfranchised as a result of these reports.

What is even worrying is the number of reported cases of illegal voter registration activities that took place using NEC registration materials in some instances during the exercise. Even though some of the culprits were apprehended, the public is yet to know the outcome of those illegal activities in terms of the number of cards recovered; in whose custody they (Voter Registration Cards) are, and what has happened to those involved. Besides, forgery is one thing that remains prevalent in our society today. Thus, no one doubts the possibility of the use of hundreds or thousands of forged Voter Registration Cards in October given the capacity issue that remains a challenge for the Commission.

In my sincere opinion, the voters roll dilemma constitutes a national emergency requiring the timely and prompt intervention of the government through relevant functionaries, political parties, civil society organizations, religious institutions and diplomatic missions accredited near Monrovia, particularly those with the history of supporting the strengthening and sustenance of our embryonic democracy.

Josiah Flomo Joekai, Jr. is a Representative Aspirant of District #3 Montserrado County, and former Director of Civic and Voter Education of the National Elections Commission, with more than 13 years of professional service in the areas of education management, democracy and governance. He has authored several published articles and books on contemporary issues.

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Category: Editorial, News Headlines

Google to release $40 mobile phone in Nigeria

Google is to capitalise on the growing digital market in Africa with the release of an affordable mobile phone. The Android-supported ICE2 smartphone will launch in Nigeria this September at $40 (N13,000) and will be equipped with Google Play Protect. The device will form an essential part of Google’s strategy to empower Africans through technology.

Cesar Segunutpane, vice president of product management at Google said: “We don’t want to create internet for Africa rather enable them to create the internet they want through the access, platforms and products we create. Access is important, by making sure they are connected to high internet. Whether students or workers, MTN, Mainone and others have done a lot on internet/broadband deployment to empower these people in Nigeria. We strongly believe faster broadband will improve Africans’ lives and innovation.”

Related stories:

“Android is the largest tech ecosystem in the world today,” Segunutpane added. “In 9 years, it grew from one phone to 2billion smartphones across the world. We have continued to work with partners and OEMs to develop devices for Africans, especially Nigerians, like $40 smartphone.”

Segunutpane also reaffirmed the company’s commitment to helping local entrepreneurs by revealing that Google will also launch apps to enable strong FinTech uptake in the country. The news follows Google’s announcement that it is continuing in its aim to create 10 million African jobs in the next five years by training 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. A million Africans have already been trained by the tech giant and the latest move is seen as a key commitment to the creation of 10 million jobs across the continent.

Liberia: Transformative Social Change Through Youth Development and Sustainable Agriculture

By Francis W. Nyepon  

The most vital and clear-cut pathway to propelling transformative social change and inclusive growth in Liberia is through youth development and sustainable agriculture.

It is no secret that agriculture is the backbone of our economy with over 80% of our people living in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day, and relying primarily on small-scale subsistence farming as their primary source of income, food, nutrition and survival. Our country ranks 12th from bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index with 75% of them under 36 years of age, and 44% of that percentage under 16 years of age, with the majority uneducated, unskilled, jobless and idle.

Over the past 12 years, transformative social change in various sectors has been stalled due to the lack of vision, innovation, support, training, performance, investment, inequalities, and gender bias, even with a female president leading and navigating the ship of state.

Sustainable agriculture for instance, the backbone of our economy and major component of our food security was left unattended without promulgating cutting-edge policies and programs to build critical capacities to enhance social change. As a result, the size of farmlands were allowed to shrink, along with severe inadequacies in water resource management, upgrading of seed varieties and distribution to boost food production, employment and training. Instead, appalling policies were implemented, which did nothing more than to compromise the growth of the sector along with outrageous concession agreements that will seriously injure our country in a few short years to come.

Conversely, with such serious challenges facing Liberia, the majority of our youth, the greatest segment of our population, are stuck at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder twisting in an endless cycle of abject poverty without a strategic pathway to contribute or participate in our country’s development agenda. Many are instead, marginalized, neglected and excluded from mainstream society without constructively and strategically being engage in contributing to the sustainable growth and development of our country. Since the end of the civil war in 2003, the majority of Liberia’s youth have been left behind in frustration, restlessness, impatience and agony due to the lack of productive education, skill- training, employment and a clear pathway to livelihood improvement.

Today, more than ever, Liberia desperately need a game-changing strategy to fundamentally root transformative social change to spur inclusive growth. The strength, vigor and dynamism of all our young people needs to be groomed and harnessed through sustainable agriculture, the service industry and the trades.

Our youth are a sleeping giant and they must be made the principle driving force to propel transformative social change in every community and municipality in our country. If transformative social change is to take place in Liberia, than the culture of impunity that has historically hamstrung and restrained our governance structures and socioeconomic relationships must be urgently brought to an end.

Since our country’s founding, impunity has been used to institutionalize inequality, injustice, privilege and poverty. It has separated, alienated and set most of our people apart socially, economically, politically and geographically by creating class structures that are destructive and urgently needs to be torn down.

Fundamentally, when impunity is paired with bad governance, corruption, dishonesty and deal making, it prevents our leaders from formulating clear-cut policies and pathways for inclusive growth and delivery of critical services such as, education, healthcare, human resource development, employment, nutrition, water, sanitation, and electricity amongst others. Every Liberian knows all too well that as a collective, these social ills limit social mobility, sustainable development, food security, efficient service delivery, youth development and poverty eradication. According to the World Bank, these are the primary reasons for our country’s underdevelopment, even with its vast wealth and abundant natural resources.

It is this author’s view that the major contributing factor to Liberia’s underdevelopment is the existence of two exclusively separate and unequal societies that exist in Liberia. One of these societies is prosperous and well-off, while the other, illiterate, poorly educated, unskilled, unemployed and hopelessly poverty stricken without straightforward opportunities for upward social mobility. Each of these societies remains so culturally different from one another that they project diametrically different, and opposing views about prosperity, social change, growth, and development.

Since the end of the civil war in 2003, Liberia’s extractive industry has been the principal source of growth, however, as a collective, the industry’s lofty ventures and enormous profits yield very little, if any, benefit for our people; thereby, forcing the vast majority of our people to continue to languish at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in excruciating agony, misery, disappointment, resentment and pain.

However, Liberia has an extremely impressive future ahead of it. The country is in a unique position to chart a new destiny towards a better and brighter future. But, innovative public policy will have to be promulgated to ignite transformative social change. Such innovative policy initiatives will have to be put front-and-center in our governance structures by a visionary leader to create a trajectory for change through youth development, sustainable agriculture, food production, service delivery, increased commodity production and the creation of small and medium industry.

This trajectory will indeed shift the changing realities of economic diversification. If this doesn’t happen after the 2017 elections, high illiteracy rate, couple with the lack of marketable skill-sets for our youth along with food insecurity, malnutrition, and unemployment will continue to keep Liberians hopelessly in poverty without clear-cut pathways to transformative social change.

In this light, it will take a progressive leadership with a vigorous and resolute agenda to empower our youth and enhance sustainable growth. Liberia cannot afford any longer to allow the most vibrant segment of its population to continue to arbitrarily and haphazardly be used as instruments of hostility, violence, conflict and devastation.

Our youth are the engine that can, and must drive our country to prosperity. They are endowed with the most underutilized talent for building critical capacity to igniting transformative social change and inclusive growth in our country. The time has come for our youth to be empowered with productive education, livelihood skills and employment to ignite transformation, increase resiliency and annihilate socioeconomic vulnerabilities. But, it is imperative that our youth be nurtured and guided in order for them to revolutionize their communities to success and prosperity.

Another way to also begin this transformative process is through the effective utilization of the robust value chain applications, practices and performances of a sustainable agricultural sector. Such an approach will allow the sector to become successful in enhancing youth development and empowerment. Our youth must be strategically targeted in a consequential manner so as to boost inclusive growth in a dynamic, and innovative way.

It is no secret that our country is a net importer of food; yet we produce far less than our potential given our rich soil, abundant rainfall, and favorable climate for agriculture. This author holds the view that when sustainable agriculture is paired with youth development, it will translate into a win-win situation for our country. It will create considerable employment, improve food security, improve livelihoods, plus increase the balance of payments for our country. For instance, frozen foods and livestock that could be raised and grown in the country will no longer have to be imported.

Moreover, basic vegetables, which are consumed every day by every Liberians will be grown in our country; instead of being imported from neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast to fill the gap as it is currently being done at a tune of US10 million dollars annually.

A definite way to begin such a transformative process is the regional institutionalization of Farmers Field Schools. Such initiatives without a doubt will surely help to lift millions of Liberians out of poverty through sustainable agriculture. It can bridge the divide between the youth, women and smallholder farmers’ through capacity building, and discovery learning to facilitate interactive learning amongst this underserved segment of our population.

Additionally, it will prepare participants to effectively utilize the entire value chain spectrum of the agricultural sector, by allowing them to become more engaged citizens through employment, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and problem solving. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, it cannot continue to suffer from entrenched negative perception and underinvestment where smallholder farmers perform long hours of backbreaking-work with very little to show for their life’s work. Our agricultural sector desperately needs to be modernized through the introduction of new techniques, methods, fertilizers and modern equipment to achieve better yields. What better way to initiate transformative social change, than through youth development and sustainable agriculture?

Mama Liberia, the country we love, and the only country we have cannot continue to be weakened by shortsighted public policy, which bring about intolerance, injustice, sexism and hostility. The confidence of our people cannot continue to be corroded and sink deeper into poverty and paucity.

Every Liberians must be welcome on board. We need all hands on deck to develop our country from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas, and from mount Nimba to seashores of Montserrado. But most importantly, the participation and contribution of our youth in sustainable agriculture must be encouraged through the public and private sectors, and civil society working together to reach this goal.

Liberia First!

Francis Nyepon can be reached at for remarks and comments

Category: Editorial, News Headlines


Les Mauriciens ont été étonnés d`apprendre que leur Premier Ministre refuse de s`adresser à la presse quand il n`en a pas envie. Hors donc la fonction de Premier Ministre et les obligations qui y vont avec incombent au teneur de se montrer le plus transparent possible afin de tenir le peuple au courant de tout ce qui relève de la politique du pays. On ne peut pas soumettre les principes de la démocratie (qui obligent ceux qui nous gouvernent à mettre leurs caprices au placard) aux contraintes des Partis politiques dont les vérités de cuisine ne peuvent être divulguées pour éviter des embarras. On sait que le BP du MSM tenu au Sun Trust comme d`habitude n`a pas été de tout repos ni pour le leader ni pour ces individus qui trainent des casseroles à n`en jamais finir car les questions sont trop vitales pour que l`on essaie de les esquiver. Alors si les réponses ont été tout aussi compromettantes on comprend le refus du leader de parler à la presse. On est plus à l`aise de deviner et spéculer que d`être servi par des non-vérités. Personne au MSM n`aura le courage de venir contredire le fait que le MSM passe par le moment le plus difficile de son existance. Les scandales que le public connait déjà poussent la base à exiger des sanctions contre les déclencheurs et aucune explication ne semble suffisante pour blanchir les responsables. Les bruits de couloir sont que Gulbul, Soodhun et Mme Jaunbaccus auraient dû être relevés de leur fonctions s`ils ne veulent pas partir de leur propre gré. Le leader se serait vu en face d`un gros dilemne et c`est pour cette raison qu`il a décidé de ne pas parler à la presse car il serait lui aussi dans le même état d`esprit c-a-d de voir ces énergumènes ainsi que Teeluckdharry débarrasser le plancher comme Raj Dayal a été obligé de le faire pour des délits de la même gravité sinon moindre. Mais le problème est que le petit Jugnauth n`arrive pas à tancher et il préfère jouer en touche devant les assauts sans cesse de l`opinion publique.

Mais jusqu`à quand pourra-t-il se cacher pour éviter la batterie de questions qui s`accumulent chaque jour? D`ici peu on n`aura même plus besoin de ses réponses car la colère du peuple l`aura éjecté de son siège sans qu`il ait le temps de prononcer le moindre mot !! | Bouman, Krieger end Bay Union series in style

Durban – Matt Bouman and Wade Krieger pooled their deep water surfski experience and tactical nous to race away with the final title of the Bay Union Open Ocean Challenge when they won the Open Ocean Challenge going away on Sunday.

The pairing, which seems to get better with each outing, patiently sat with a fast-paced bunch from the start at Durban Underwater Club down to the southerly turn can off the Bluff, where they shrugged off all the challengers bar youngsters Hamish Lovemore and Clint Cook.

On the return leg, racing in small but tricky conditions, Bouman and Krieger took better advantage of the swell and ground out an ever increasing lead to secure the win.

“Matt (Bouman) and I have paddled together four or five times, and I can honestly say that we have never been better,” said Krieger after the win.

“The runs coming back were complicated, but he is such a fundi in conditions like that. He has been paddling the Geriatksi course down to the Bluff and back for years, and he knows it so well.

“Matt just seems to know precisely when to go hard. It felt like we understood each other better,” added Krieger.

Bouman was also enthusing about the lengthening of his stroke, and attributed this to the time he has spent paddling behind Ant Stott in the recent flat-water marathon canoeing events.

The win will be an ominous sign ahead of the upcoming Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge on 19 and 20 August which the pairing of Bouman and Krieger have committed to racing together.

Lovemore and Cook wrapped up second in a sprint up the beach with Bailey de Fondaumiere and Gene Prato.

The women’s title fell to the impressive combination of Michelle Burn and Hayley Nixon, two of the best female surfski paddlers in the world at the moment, as they relished their time in the double ski together.

Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase were second, less than thirty seconds off their tail.

The final race of the popular Sunday morning series was also a celebration for the thriving development programme that has been activity driven by the Geriatski surfski community.

The youngsters from Umgababa have revelled in the three short course races in the series so far, and have been regular visitors to the short course podium.

On Sunday, they were given the opportunity to race the 12km long course out to the Bluff and back by pairing them up with seasoned partners for the double ski race.

Bay Union Open Ocean Challenge Series:

Summary of Results – Geriatskis Open Ocean Challenge

Long Course

1 Matthew Bouman/Wade Krieger 0:53:12.00
2 Hamish Lovemore/Clinton Cook 0:54:11.91
3 Bailey De Fondaumiere/Gene Prato 0:54:16.32
4 Luke Nisbet/Anton Rencken 0:55:00.93
5 Richard Burn 0:55:09.59
6 Thomas Lovemore/Tyron Maher 0:55:13.99
7 Herman Chalupsky/Colin Simpkins 0:56:50.28
8 Richard Lowe/Callam Davis 0:57:33.64
9 Shaun Burgin/Donna Winter 0:57:52.64
10 Linton Hope/Bruce Wenke 0:58:52.41
11 Bruce Pender-Smith/Murray Smith 0:59:00.44
12 Michelle Burn/Hayley Nixon 0:59:14.63
13 Gavin Searle/Michel De Rauville 0:59:56.33
14 Malcolm Carey/Matt Gunning 1:00:02.14
15 Jenna Ward/Kyeta Purchase 1:00:06.58
16 Jordan Clauson/Mhlengi Mngadi 1:02:14.29
17 Allan Hold/Geoff Thompson 1:02:24.30
18 Mark Kelly/Grant Walker 1:02:38.58
19 Irvin Dixon/Byron Mc Kie 1:02:46.19
20 Cameron Hudson/Calven Clack 1:03:09.65


1 Michelle Burn/Hayley Nixon 0:59:14.63
2 Jenna Ward/Kyeta Purchase 1:00:06.58

Short Course

1 Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 0:36:34.91
2 Gabi Howarth/Lance Howarth 0:37:05.93
3 Savannah Van Rooyen/Siobhan Sharp 0:37:06.29
4 Ryan Roberts/Ross Roberts 0:39:51.86
5 Michael Shattock 0:40:14.55
6 Sanele Nxumalo 0:40:36.27
7 Duane Taylor 0:41:13.89
8 Allan Lawrie/Daniel Lawrie 0:41:33.78
9 Emanuel Zaloumis/Morghan Flanagan 0:41:39.61
10 Victoria Aadnesgaard 0:41:48.60


22 Matthew Swemmer 0:44:56.78
36 Jaqueline Lecourt De Billot 0:49:04.55
38 Lande Williamson 0:49:45.97
42 Shannon Clark 0:52:11.63
43 Jon Ivins 0:52:35.28
44 Jeanne Grace 0:54:22.90
48 Karisa Grace 1:02:44.92
49 Rankin Grace 1:02:59.42