Liberia will attempt to raise $1.3bn to boost the economy following the 2014 Ebola epidemic and a decline in its key export commodities, according to the finance minister. The West African country will use the funds to invest in energy projects and the agriculture sector in a bid to diversify its economy and increase manufacturing, Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara said in an interview on Tuesday in the capital, Monrovia.
“[Liberia] cannot continue to remain reliant on primary commodities,” Kamara said. “If we do not diversify, the economy is going to remain vulnerable.” Liberia has struggled to recover from the Ebola outbreak, which at its peak infected around 400 people a week, and resulted in the deaths of more than 11,200 in the country and neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s iron ore exports, the largest earner of foreign currency, have fallen by over 60%, while the country’s other major revenue earner, rubber, has seen prices fall because of an oversupply in the market. The government hopes that the funding – which will come from loans provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – will help revive the country’s economy which has come to a virtual standstill over the past three years.
Liberia’s average annual growth rate between 2014 and 2015 stood at 0.5%, after averaging about 8% between 2006 and 2013, according to data from the Central Bank of Liberia. The Liberian government is aiming for average growth to reach 6% from 2018 to 2025, according to Kamara.
In addition to the borrowing, the government will implement additional spending cuts, following the $70m worth of cuts implemented in the 2015-16 financial year. In a bid to boost the manufacturing sector, Liberia plans to increase its power capacity from 22 megawatts to 200 megawatts by the end of 2017, Kamara added.