Pres. Weah speaks at US-Africa Forum …Calls on Diaspora Young Africans to Strive for Excellence
President Dr. George Manneh Weah has outlined significant steps and actions Africans in the Diaspora can take to realize their dreams and potentials in contributing positively to the social, economic and political progress of the African Continent.
Addressing the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit taking place in Washington DC, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, President Weah said Diaspora Africans must play meaningful roles in Africa if the future is to be bright.
“Africa’s future ought to be bright,” he told the audience of entrepreneurs, politicians and African youthful. “We have the potential to turn around the grim outlook of the continent that is presented in the news daily. With more than 60 percent of Africans being young people, we have the demographic dividend capable of making our region responsive to the needs of its people.”
He said the role young people and the general African diaspora must play in addressing the needs of the continent must be through innovation, investment and knowledge transfer.
“It is often said in Africa that young people are our future leaders. But I have observed that not much opportunities are created to allow them to reach their full potential,” the President stressed, adding that such as has “made a growing number of them to seek opportunities here in the West, where they have acquired quality education and useful skills in order to contribute to the development and advancement of society.”
The President said he strongly believes that young people are capable of conquering the world if given a place to stand.
He called on the young Africans in the audience and elsewhere to use his own case, as a poor boy who grew up in the slums of Gibraltar in Liberia and later became an iconic footballer, to pilot their lives through hard work, discipline and determination.
He told the forum how he took investments back to Africa while he was pursuing professional career in the diaspora, saying that he invested in many businesses and in human capital by supporting many young people in acquiring education to enable them advance their lives and have a livelihood.
“And so today I say to the youth of Africa, you can also succeed in your chosen fields of endeavor, if you are prepared to be diligent, disciplined, and determined,” President Weah, who spoke first at the opening of the forum after US Secretary of State Athony Blinken, had introduced him said.
He urged African governments to create the enabling environment and the requisite framework that will allow our young people in the diaspora contribute, through their education and innovation, to the transformation of our beloved continent.
He said, “Our brothers and sisters in the diaspora are indispensable partners in the development aspirations of our various countries. We must welcome them. We must embrace them. We must recognize them. Africans in the diaspora and Africans in Africa are one people.”
President Weah recalled several significant actions his administration has taken to provide the platform upon which Diaspora Africans can make cardinal contributions to the development of the African Continent.
“In recognition of the value of our Liberian diaspora community, at the inception of my administration nearly five (5) years ago, I embarked upon the process of removing restrictive laws to encourage the Liberian diaspora to contribute more to the development of our country,” he informed the audience.
He narrated how he in July of this year he signed into law an Act authorizing dual citizenship and allowing women to pass citizenship to their children.
“By so doing, my administration has now removed all legal barriers which had prevented natural-born Liberians from rightfully resuming citizenship of the land of their ancestors,” he asserted, reiterating his Government’s commitment to ensuring that the diaspora is not left out in the national reconstruction and development of Liberia.
He emphasized that the government considers the Liberian diaspora community as a valuable asset to our nation’s growth and development, and that their full participation is an important part of the nation-building process.
He added: “We can succeed if we allow peace to reign. And, we can succeed if we lay the framework for our young people to have a smooth transition in the democratic process.”
The President said he harbors no doubt in his mind that the young population of Africa has a significant role in whichever direction Africa takes.
“With millions of African descendants and immigrants in the diaspora, there is no doubt that this is a vast reservoir of talent, training, expertise, and financial capacity which must and should be utilized to enhance the advancement and development of our Continent,” he said. “The collaborative effort will serve as the bridge connecting Africans in the diaspora back to their collective roots and cultural identities.”
“It is therefore incumbent upon us as leaders to recognize and acknowledge the significance of these many millions of our compatriots living in the diaspora communities, whose contributions are pivotal to the growth and development of our continent,” he indicated.
Dr. Weah noted also that although diaspora Africans are physically separated from the motherland, they have a major influence on the socio-economic, cultural, and political landscape of their respective countries, which should not be overlooked or under-estimated.
“So my distinguished African diaspora brothers and sisters, I would like to invite you to join us in helping to build a New Africa where peace, unity, democracy, human rights, comprehensive freedom, tolerance, togetherness, cooperation, reconciliation, equal opportunity for all so that growth and sustainable development will be the cornerstone and foundation for the future of Africa,” the Liberian President noted.
President Weah also used his address to highlight the glowing heights of the relationship between Liberia and the United States.
Describing it an honor to join colleagues from Africa to participate in this year’s US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, he extended heartfelt appreciation to US President, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the Government and People for the invitation to participate in the important Summit in Washington DC.
He recounted how Liberia has a long and historic relationship with the United States, which he said has led to the two countries having common positions on issues such as democracy, human rights, global peace and security.
“We hold the view that this Summit will strengthen our partnership and increase our commitment to foster stronger cooperation in seeking the broad interest of our respective countries in particular, and the world at large,” he assured the American organizers, indicating further that Summit should also reinforce the continued true partnership and friendship with the United States.
“This should enable us to re-define and reset our urgent priorities in economic, social, and political engagements that will serve as the reinforcement of our genuine commitment to democracy, human rights, transparency and good governance,” he emphasized.
According to him, Liberia believes that such engagements between Africa and the United States will improve and strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships, foster peace and security on the continent of Africa.