Liberia president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberia, one of the poorest nations in sub-Saharan Africa needs $1.3 billion to revive its economy, two years after an Ebola epidemic that ravaged the nation and plunged its economy into recession.
The West African nation is targeting a diversification in its economy to reduce over-reliance on iron ore and rubber, its biggest foreign exchange earners that fell at the peak of the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
“The country is targeting average annual economic growth of about six percent for the seven years starting 2018, after averaging about 8 percent between 2006 and 2013. If we do not diversify, the economy is going to remain vulnerable,” Bloomberg quoted Boima Kamara, minister of finance and development planning, as saying.
Liberia is also planning to increase its power generation capacity nearly ten-folds to 200 megawatts by the end of 2017, from the current 22 megawatts.
In September, Japan, through the Japan Corporation Agency (JICA), completed the construction of a 10-megawatt power plant.
The nation has one of the lowest electricity supply rates in the world. About two percent of its 4.2 million population has access to electricity, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Liberia’s major export is rubber, followed by iron and diamonds. In August, International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), a specialized United Nations Agency pledged $50 million to help improve the nation’s under-exploited agricultural sector.
The Ebola epidemic devastated one of the world’s poorest nations, barely a decade after the end of the second civil war, where about 54 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank data.
The epidemic killed at least 11,200 in the nation and neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea. It led to the cancellation of hundreds of international flights to the three nations, which led to drastic falls in their economic growth.
During the outbreak’s worst crisis in 2014, Liberia’s economic growth rate slowed to less than one percent annually. International companies that were prospecting for oil also left the nation, The Economist reported.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita for the West African nation currently stands at about $454.30, according to data by Gazette Review.
In May, the nation cut its budget by $69.9 million in the 2015-16 financial year, after President Ellen-Sirleaf Johnson requested parliament to reduce government’s spending in efforts to boost the economic recovery, Daily Observer reported.