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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Vice President of Liberia inaugurates country’s first heavy equipment operator school funded by Japan

KAKATA, Liberia, 28 June 2014 – As part of a United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) project to improve the industrial training capacity of Liberia and provide marketable skills to vulnerable citizens, Vice President Joseph Boakai today inaugurated the Japan Heavy Equipment Operator School in Kakata, the capital city of Liberia's Margibi County.

The opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel M. Addy; the Minister of Finance, Amara Konneh; the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in Ghana, Shigeru Hamano; the Vice President of Komatsu Ltd, Noboru Sato; the UNIDO Regional Director for West Africa, Patrick Kormawa; and the Principal of the Booker Washington Institute, Alexander Massey.

Undertaken in partnership with the Government of Japan, Komatsu Ltd and the Booker Washington Institute, the project aims to promote youth employment in the mining, construction and agriculture sectors.

Liberia has made significant progress in its efforts to secure and sustain long-lasting peace. Devastating civil wars have left the vocational infrastructure, which is critical to rebuilding the country, severely damaged. At the same time, the private sector is increasingly interested in investing in Liberia but has had a hard time finding the skilled work force that would meet the needs of modern industry requirements.

The increased foreign direct investment to Liberia is a synonym for growth. This project marks the era of secondary manufacturing and creation of employment opportunities for young Liberians. The Government of Japan is proud to support such a project, said Deputy Chief of Mission Shigeru Hamano.

Building on the existing infrastructure of the Booker Washing Institute in Liberia, the project established a training centre for heavy equipment operators, which is the first of its kind in the country.

“This school is for young Liberians to advance the country and create linkages with the foreign companies that are increasingly investing in Liberia”, said Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy.

“It is a positive sign today to see development and initiatives that are geared towards supporting our youth and preparing them to fill jobs in our growing industrial sectors”, said Vice President Boakai. 

Both the training of instructors and the development of the curriculum took place at the Komatsu Techno Training center in Japan. “During the Training of Trainers, the instructors from Liberia worked hard and showed full commitment”, said Vice President of Komatsu Ltd, Noboru Sato.

“To support them, Komatsu will send one of our instructors for follow-up training and provide advice on operator training customized to the actual soil here in Liberia. We also will provide an excavator and bulldozer, so that the instructors and students can get as much actual training and experience as possible”.

Liberia faces potential difficulties as a result of increasing youth unemployment. While Liberia is now attracting significant foreign investment in key sectors, a lack of quality vocational education and well-trained technical personnel represent a significant barrier to the creation of employment opportunities, thereby threatening the long-term stability of the country. The UNIDO project aims to prepare young graduates to meet the demands of modern industry as the country experiences economic growth and development.

For more information, please contact:

Stavros Papastavrou
UNIDO Project Manager
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