In the first programme of the new series of Crossing Continents, Bill Law travels to the West African country of Liberia as it attempts to rebuild after years of devastating conflict.
Hopes are running high in this resource-rich country but recovery is dependant on securing fair deals with foreign corporations.
That is the challenge facing the government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first woman president.
In the chaotic post war period, multinationals secured highly profitable deals which, if allowed to stand, critics say will do little to benefit the country.
Bill Law visits Mt Nimba, the site of what was one of the richest iron ore deposits in the world.
Critics say that ceding sovereign and economic rights to a powerful foreign corporation is in effect creating a state within a state
Last year steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal signed a contract with the then transitional government that gives his company virtual control of the vast Nimba concession area, which includes the country's longest rail line and the port facilities in the town of Buchanan.
In return, the company is tasked with providing services like schools and health facilities for people in the area.
Critics say that ceding sovereign and economic rights to a powerful foreign corporation is in effect creating a state within a state.
Ordinary Liberians are struggling to get the country running again.
People like Olu Menjay, who escaped Liberia as a young man and has now returned to run a school on the outskirts of the capital city Monrovia.
He is attempting to spread a message of self-respect and self-reliance amongst his students.
The country is at a crossroads.
The threat of violence still hangs in the air, but the opportunity for a peaceful and prosperous civil society has never been stronger.
Will the people of Liberia and their government turn their nation around or is Liberia destined to a future shaped by big business?
Presenter: Bill Law
Producer: Colin Pereira
Editor: Sue Ellis