Rounding out a week of activities at the United Nations recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf met on Friday, September 27, with Marylanders for Progress (Liberia) Inc. The delegation discussed with the President efforts to establish a Center of Excellence in renewable energy at the William V.S. Tubman University, and renovation of the Port of Harper.
According to a dispatch from the United States, the delegation included Mrs. Roberta Brown Cooper, President; and Dr. James N. Elliot, Mr. Gerald Cooper, Ms. Roma Stibravy, among others.
Mrs. Brown Cooper told President Sirleaf that her organization is interested in helping Maryland County, but has faced challenges in doing so because potential partners want assurances that projects have the approval of the Government of Liberia. She sought the President’s blessing.
Explaining further, Dr. Elliot thanked President Sirleaf for the improvements that are taking place in Maryland County, with the road network and electricity coming from Côte d’Ivoire. He said that the non-profit organization was founded 12 years ago, and has provided aid and school supplies, to contribute to the society of its members’ origin. MFP, he said, wants to transition from aid to capacity building, with its focus being Tubman University.
MFP, he continued, seeks to establish a Center of Excellence for the development of solar and renewable energy, thereby enabling the county to be a part of the energy future. Government cannot do it alone, he said; it also requires private sector involvement, and so MFP sought government’s support as it applies for funding for its projects.
Ms. Stibravy mentioned several energy-related projects at Tubman University, including solar cookers. The effort, she said, aimed at realizing the dream of Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell, President of TU, for the institution to become a Center of Excellence for research in sustainable energy. Billions of dollars have been pledged by the private sector for such research, she said, but the Government of Liberia would need to apply for such funding.
Mr. Cooper informed the President that architecture students at several predominantly black universities in the United States – Howard, Tuskegee and Morgan State – are competing to design an auditorium and library for Tubman University, and he sought support for that project.
Responding, President Sirleaf told the delegation that there is much that is happening in Maryland County because of the agriculture sector. With its proximity to Côte d’Ivoire, the county would also benefit from thermal-generated energy.
President Sirleaf said that she prized Tubman University because Dr. Russell has done a tremendous job there, and that if the University President wants to develop it into a Center of Excellence, the government will do all that it can to enhance her work. Concerning renewable energy activities, the President named Mr. Gyude Moore, of her Program Delivery Unit (PDU), himself a Marylander, as her point person with whom the group should work. She expressed an interest in results-oriented projects.
Concerning government’s endorsement of projects, the President said it would need to know the specifics. She added that the government gives support through the budgetary process, and not to individual NGO projects. Dr. Elliott clarified that the organization can get some funding on its own, but would need help in those instances where funding is made available only through an application from the government.
As for renovations to the Port of Harper, the President informed the delegation that a Master Plan for the country’s four existing ports, including Harper, is being readied by the National Port Authority, and that the group should contact the NPA Managing Director, Ms. Matilda Parker.
Marylanders for Progress (Liberia), Inc, was formed and incorporated in the State of Maryland, USA, in 1999 by a group of citizens from Maryland County, Liberia, West Africa.