Liberia’s post-war economic growth was sustained in 2012, with estimated real GDP growth of 8.9%, led by the first full year of post-conflict iron ore exports, buoyant construction, and strong performance in services. Real GDP is projected to expand by 7.7% in 2013 and 5.4% in 2014, supported by further iron ore expansion and concessionrelated foreign direct investment (FDI). Liberia’s economic outlook remains vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices, particularly for its key exports, rubber and iron ore.
Potential declines in FDI and overseas development assistance, including the partial drawdown of the substantial UNMIL force, could also affect economic performance.
Consumer price inflation moderated to 6.9% in 2012, thanks to lower international food and fuel prices, and is expected to further slow to 5.1% in 2013.
In December 2012, Liberia launched the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), its second poverty reduction strategy. The AfT intends to remove key infrastructure constraints in energy, roads, and ports, and to support youth and capacity building. The government has secured financing to rehabilitate the Mount Coffee Hydropower plant, which could come online at end of 2015 and would help address the country’s substantial energy shortage. The government prepared its FY 2012/13 budget in a three-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). However, despite substantial progress in public financial management (PFM) and transparency, substantial challenges remain, and pay reform will be necessary to improve public sector capacity.
Natural resources continue to play a leading role in Liberia’s economy. Iron ore, rubber, and timber dominate exports, and the oil and palm oil sectors offer much potential. The management of these resources has come under scrutiny in the past year. The abuse of Private Use Permits in the forestry sector has resulted in a quarter of Liberia’s land being contracted out to foreign companies with little oversight. Land access disputes have also slowed planting in the palm oil sector, and oil discoveries have been overshadowed by the need to reform the sector’s institutions. Investments in power and transportation should foster linkages between Liberia’s private sector and its natural resources sector, while increasing productivity and market access for the majority of households in rural areas that are engaged in small-scale agriculture. Infrastructure will take years to develop, however, and poor access to credit will continue to constrain growth. Concession agreements could create up to 100 000 local jobs over 10 years, but this will make limited impact on the 50 000 youth joining the labour force every year. Increased employment creation would help decrease the risk of instability.
( Courtesy African Economic Outlook……Source……New Africa Business News & Our Freelance Economic Contributor )