From April 26 to 28, the first Grand Bassa Trade and Investment Conference took place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa. Business people had come from more than seven countries to learn about conditions in Liberia and explore possibilities for investing in Grand Bassa.
The conference was organized by the office of the senator of Grand Bassa, along with a Grand Bassa Diaspora Group in the US. Large companies in Liberia such as Orange and Acelor-Mittal and an anonymous business sponsored the event. On Behalf of President Weah, Liberia’s Commerce and Industry Minister, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh welcomed the participants and assured that Liberia will provide what investors need such as stability, rule of law, and predictability.
The fist of all thematic sessions was about energy. Unfortunately, the Minister of Mines and Energy could not come as scheduled. The first talk was a presentation about Connex, a company dealing with gasoline, heavy fuel oil, Diesel and fuel. They had the first Liberian owned petroleum storage and will have a second one in Buchanan soon.
In a second presentation, Ian Yhap, former LEC chairman spoke as sector specialist about the Way Forward for Liberia Electricity. He focused on the potential of hydropower, for instance a reservoir at Via could increase hydropower production of Mount Coffee to 160MW throughout the year. While funding with development banks might be cheap, the option of EPC+F (one contractor performing Engineering, Procurement and Construction as well as Financing) could be much faster, completing such a big project in only three to four years.
Ater the presentations, many people in the audience showed their interest in the energy sector. Various questions were asked and answered, including about possibilities for solar energy or bringing up the idea to use Blockchain technology in the energy sector.
Other thematic sessions in the conference dealt with infrastructure, mining, agriculture, tourism, education and others. The international guests – among them many Liberians living abroad who want to invest money in Liberia – could also visit the port of Buchanan. Overall, people were impressed and satisfied with this conference. The future will show if it results in investments and new businesses and employment possibilities in Grand Bassa.