President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has met with a high-level United States of America delegation and discussed bilateral issues, including the upcoming United States-African Leaders Summit scheduled for Washington, D.C. from August 5-6, 2014.
The meeting took place on the fringes of the African Union’s 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, according to a dispatch from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Briefing President Sirleaf on the intent of the consultation, on Wednesday, June 25, the Special Assistant to U.S. President Barak Obama said they were using the AU Summit in Malabo to engage the Liberian leader on what exactly the United States should place on the Agenda for the Washington Meeting and for possible interventions following that meeting.
Mr. Grant Harris informed the Liberian leader that while the U.S. Government seeks the priority needs of African countries, they have lined up security, trade and investment, health, food security and trafficking of all kinds, among others, and was consulting to see whether the items were equally important areas for African countries.
According to Mr. Harris, they were seeking a frank engagement with the Liberian leader ahead of the Washington Summit which, he said, will help them in setting the stage for the first of such meetings in its 238-year history.
All but a few of the heads of state of the 54 African nations have been invited and most are expected to attend. It will be the most heads of state to ever be in Washington at one time, he said.
Mr. Harris used the occasion to congratulate President Sirleaf on her chairmanship of the AU High Level Committee, terming the exercise as a great piece of citizens’ voice collection on the view of the global development agenda.
In response, President Sirleaf named Africa’s problem on lack of education and jobs for its youths and believes if Africa is to make progress these fundamental issues must be tackled, emphasizing that the issue of education, both technical and vocational, be placed on the high table.
She reminded the US delegation of the theme of the ongoing AU Summit: “Year of Agriculture and Food Security,” saying the region’s readiness to be self-sufficient in food production and is opting to seek partnership in addressing the continent’s food security problem.
For Liberia, President Sirleaf named electricity as her administration’s top most priority as sustained and cheap electricity will greatly help in economic revitalization.
She informed the delegation that her government has already taken some steps in the restoration of electricity to the country, but was still opened for partnership intervention in order to solve Liberia’s energy problem.
She named the ongoing rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee hydro plant and the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) connection from Ivory Coast, among others.
President Sirleaf opined that the WAPP project was moving too slow and hoped the US would remit some funding to the WAPP project for its extension to Liberian villages since the country was named by President Obama as one of the five African beneficiaries of the U.S. Power Africa in June 2013.
The U.S. delegation that met with the Liberian President included former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield, now Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Ambassador Donald Booth, who is also a former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia.