Foreign Direct Investment, like the one provided by ArcelorMittal, serves as engine for growth, transfer of capital and technology to Liberia.
ArcelorMittal Liberia, since it entered Liberia nearly 17 years ago, continues to provide job and economic substantiality for thousands of Liberians, at the same time contributing to government’s revenue in significant amounts.
But despite the steady growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into Liberia, facilitated by the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, economic activities in Liberia remain relatively weak.
Factors such as violent protests and political variability continue to undermine macroeconomic stability, growth, infrastructure, and often lead to poor foreign direct investment (FDI).
Frequent attacks on leading concessions in Liberia couple with violent protests at multinational companies hinder prospective investors from coming to the cash-trapped West African nation.
ArcelorMittal in Liberia, for example, has been at the disadvantage end of repeated ferocious attacks that could send a signal to other companies desirous of doing business in the country.
From deliberate removal of wagons to seizure of heavy-duty equipment and forceful protests at its Buchanan concession area have resulted into weeks of disruption of normal activities and threats to workers.
However, this repetitive wave of violence, mostly perpetuated by the unskilled youths, goes unchecked in many cases as if Liberians have not understood that these acts in themselves are vices that tend to bring more suffering on the masses of the people.
Violent protestation at a concession that serves as the biggest government revenue contributor does not say anything good about respect for the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences.
Liberians must learn from the 14 years of civil upheaval and bring to themselves the lessons that are most needed to unite the country and support development.
Like Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, remarked a few days ago at a citizens’ meeting with ArcelorMittal in Buchanan City, “Violence has never, and will never, resolve displeasure.”
With no doubt, the people of Nimba, Bassa and Bong counties have benefited from AML, mostly in terms of direct support to education, infrastructure, health and community development.
These counties receive a combined US$3 million or more in county social development fund from ArcelorMittal on an annual basis.
Aside from this, road, schools, hospitals and clinics in these counties are regularly upgraded with various kinds of support that directly come from ArcelorMittal.
For Example, early this year ArcelorMittal, from its phase two expansion project, donated a brand new two-door pickup to the Liberian National Police (LNP) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Together with county leaders, the company recently dedicated about six new projects across Bassa from its 20% community development fund for directly affected communities.
Early this year AML began the construction of three children’s playgrounds in Bong, Bassa and Nimba, all of which have been dedicated.
Dozens of towns and villages in Bassa, Nimba and Bong continue to benefit from diverse social development programs funded by ArcelorMittal as scores of young people get trained either through scholarship or technical vocational education.
It behooves these counties to promote and protect ArcelorMittal’s investment by engaging in peaceful dialogue as a way of resolving contention.