As Government’s premier Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prime statutory responsibility for the conduct of foreign relations and formulation of foreign policies. Toward these ends, the Ministry has attained the following major achievements during the year 2013:
1. SIGNIFICANT BILATERAL AGREEMENTS AND PARTNERSHIPS
MoFA facilitated and concluded key bilateral agreements/partnerships which bear significantly on economic and infrastructural development in Liberia. These include:
a. The landmark US$60 million Ministerial Complex in Congo Town which would house upwards of 10 government Ministries.
b. A US$50 million Liberia-Japan Agreement to modernize and expand to 4-lane the Somalia Drive Road connecting the Freeport and Red Light/Paynesville areas.
c. US$18 million Agreement with the Chinese Government for the renovation and improvement of the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Sports Complex in Paynesville
d. A China-Liberia Agreement to expand the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) in Paynesville;
e. A China-Liberia Agreement for the construction of annexes for the National Legislature/Capitol Building in Monrovia, by the Chinese Government;
f. The US$5.1 million Liberia-Japan Agreement for Food Aid.
g. The signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between Liberia and India
§ For a US$ 144 million Line of Credit from India's Exim Bank for power transmission and distribution project in Liberia.
§ For the establishment of Joint Commission between India and Liberia
§ For cooperation between the Foreign Service Institutes of India and Liberia
§ On cooperation in the field of Oil and Gas between India and Liberia
j. The establishment of a U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue focused on strengthening cooperation in agriculture and food security, energy and power infrastructure, and human development. In May, Minister Ngafuan led Government’s delegation to Washington DC for the Inaugural Meeting of the Dialogue which he co-chaired with U.S. Under-Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman.
k. The initiation of an EU-Liberia Partnership Dialogue focused on cooperation on political, the economic and environment issues.
l. The establishment of the Liberia-Indonesia Joint Commission in the areas of economic, trade, cultural, tourism, financial, scientific, technology, and agriculture, which emanated from the visit to Liberia of His Excellency Dr. H. Susil Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, as part of the 3rd Meeting of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda held in Monrovia.
m. The establishment of the Liberia-Ethiopia Joint Cooperation in the areas of trade, education, agriculture, and capacity development.
n. Effective bilateral engagements led during the period to the securing of over 8 new scholarship programs totaling over 200 slots for young Liberians to acquire quality education abroad. Said scholarships were received from friendly governments, including China, India, Egypt, Morocco, Botswana, Nigeria, Turkey, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia.
2. STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP IN DIPLOMATIC AND FOREIGN RELATIONS
a. Within the Mano River Union (MRU) and ECOWAS areas, the Ministry successful championed positive engagement with the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, UNMIL in Liberia and UNOCI in Cote d’Ivoire to stabilize tensions along Liberia-Cote d’Ivoire border following the border-line fatality of Ivorian civilians and UNOCI peacekeepers by insurgent operatives from the Ivorian crisis. In close cooperation with former Foreign Minister of Cote d’Ivoire, H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, a Quadripartite Meeting was held between the Governments of Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire and the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) and Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in Abidjan, resulting into a Joint Communiqué whereby the parties agreed to take concrete actions (including increased security and immigration presence and patrol) to encourage border safety and promote confidence-building amongst border communities. A 2nd Quadripartite Meeting was hosted and chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, and led to the establishment of a Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders, and the subsequent holding in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, of a meeting of Ivorian and Liberian chiefs and elders, where both Presidents Sirleaf and Alassane Ouattara were in attendance. The meeting discussed issues of peace, security, and cross-border cooperation.
b. MoFA remains seized with efforts within ECOWAS to restore peace and full constitutional order to Mali and Guinea Bissau where mutineer solders orchestrated unconstitutional seizure of power in 2012, spiraling into full-scale crises. Under the guidance of H.E. President Sirleaf, MoFA has lent Liberia’s efforts to ECOWAS’s push for full constitutional order in both nations; and has enabled the deployment of a contingent of Liberian military officers to Mali as part of a UN-lead force.
c. MoFA, by and through Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, has also led high-powered Government delegations to the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union, and ECOWAS; and has represented President Sirleaf at the International Donor Conference on the Development of Mali under the theme: Together for A New Mali”, at the 20th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January of 2013; and at ALMA Award of Excellence for African Leaders Malaria Alliance, just to name a few.
d. In July, MoFA hosted and chaired the Mano River Union (MRU) Ministerial Council Meeting in Monrovia, ahead of the Summit of MRU Heads of State and Government. The Ministerial Council discussed MRU Secretariat’s Progress Report, governance issues at the level of the Secretariat, and the Progress Report on the MRU Strategic Plan, among other issues.
3. INSTITUTIONAL AND CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT AT MOFA
a. MoFA has successful completed issuance of ECOWAS biometric passports to former Liberian refugees in the West African sub-region, and has re-introduced Service Passports after over 20 years of discontinuance. Service Passports will now be issued to persons not eligible for Diplomatic or Official Passports.
b. In 2013, MoFA established a Computer and Resource Training Center at the Ministry for the further development of existing staff capacity.
c. Renovation of the Passport Division and establishment of a new Passport Annex, valued at US$100,000, aimed at improving passport services to the general public
d. Increased international support for Foreign Service Institute (FSI) through the establishment of new links with Indian and Brazilian counterparts whereby the two institutions will share knowledge, and exchange students and professors through periodic conferences and trainings.
e. The purchased 2 new 40-seated buses to ease the transportation difficulties of MoFA staff.
4. INCREASED PRESENCE OF FRIENDLY GOVERNMENTS/EMBASSIES IN LIBERIA
Through effective diplomacy, MoFA achieved the following increase in foreign diplomatic presence in Liberia:
a. Reopening of the British Embassy in Monrovia after more than 20 years of closure and non-residence;
b. The opening of Brazilian Embassy in Monrovia, at the level of Resident Ambassador;
c. The Opening of the Swedish Embassy in Monrovia, with a Resident Ambassador;
d.The opening of the Qatar Embassy in Monrovia, at the level of Resident Ambassador.
CHALLENGES AND CONSTRAINTS
1. Resource and Budgetary Constraints – inadequacy of MoFA’s budget for the fiscal period has
a. Contributed to the deferment of some targets, and to MoFA’s inability to open new diplomatic missions in strategically important capitals of the world.
b. Inhibited further capacity development and the hiring and retention of qualified staff needed to optimize overall performance.