Viewing cable 08MONROVIA407
Title: LIBERIA: APPLICATION FOR OPIC FINANCE: KENDEJA HOTEL

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08MONROVIA4072008-05-27 07:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Monrovia
VZCZCXRO3528
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHMV #0407 1480745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270745Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0048
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS MONROVIA 000407 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
PLEASE PASS OPIC FOR KENNETH ANGELL 
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W 
 
 
E.O. 12598: N/A 
TAGS: EINV EFIN OPIC LI
SUBJECT: LIBERIA: APPLICATION FOR OPIC FINANCE: KENDEJA HOTEL 
PROJECT 
 
REF:  STATE 49549 
 
¶1. (U) The following response to reftel is based on information 
gleaned during the May 19-23 visit of OPIC officers Kenneth Angell 
and Barbara Gibian, on post's interaction with the Kendeja project 
prior to that meeting, and on information gleaned from Liberian 
officials and others who either support or opposed the project. 
During our discussions with supporters and potential opponents of 
the project, we found across-the-board support among Liberians. 
 
¶2. (SBU) The RLJ Kendeja investment got off to a controversial 
start, drawing vociferous opposition from traditional leaders and 
from Representative Edwin Snowe, former speaker of the House of 
Representatives, in whose district Kendeja is located.  In a May 20 
meeting, Rep. Snowe told us he now thinks the Kendeja hotel project 
will benefit the community, and said he looks forward to walking 
over to enjoy the amenities once it is completed.  He urged the RLJ 
companies to consider the long-term relations with the neighboring 
community, noting that while the employment offered by the project 
is very welcome now, resentment could grow once those jobs end and 
the contrast between the resort and the villages becomes more stark. 
 (Note:  The RLJ representatives are aware of this issue and have 
told us they plan to employ as many local residents as possible and 
are providing training that will make current employees more 
marketable.  End note.) 
 
¶3.  (SBU) We also spoke with traditional leaders who said that 
although the GOL's decision to grant a sacred site to foreign 
investors was troubling to many Liberians, people understand that 
development is necessary.  It was suggested that RLJ could take 
steps to incorporate traditional leaders in a ceremony that would 
recognize their spiritual concerns and promote greater acceptance of 
the project.  RLJ reps have since taken steps to consult with 
Liberian traditional and cultural leaders. 
 
¶4. (U) Market developments in hotel and tourism sector:  Liberia's 
acute shortage of acceptable hotel rooms has spawned a building 
spree.  A National Investment Commission (NIC) survey revealed 
approximately 400 hotel rooms in Monrovia, with under 200 of those 
at the one- or two-star level (and the rest below that).  None of 
the hotels are or will be of the quality of the proposed RLJ hotel 
and the better ones operate near capacity.  The NIC Chair estimates 
a market for approximately 1,000 rooms in Monrovia. 
 
¶5. (SBU) This investment is a bet on Liberia's future, and will do 
much to secure that future.  The scale of the investment and the 
attitude of the investors send a message to Liberians that their 
country is returning to normal and to investors that there are 
opportunities in Liberia.  The project should also support growth of 
much needed services (such as transportation, trash collection, and 
hospitality services).  Several of these services are offered by 
clients of the OPIC-funded Liberian Enterprise Development Finance 
Corporation (LEDFC), providing synergy. 
 
¶6. (U) Participants that would cause the embassy not to support the 
project: None.  Post has been impressed with the foresight, 
sensitivity and diligence shown by participants in the project, from 
the contractors (who consulted with Econoffs in January) to the 
security officers (who met with posts' security counterparts this 
week).  We are not aware of ties to terrorism, money laundering, 
corruption, or violations of law.  The project participants seem to 
be placing a high priority on social and environmental 
considerations. 
 
BOOTH