Overview

  • Political and Security Update

    The administration of President George M. Weah will clock two years in office in January 2020 and will be taking stock of its deliverables in terms of social services and fulfilling campaign promises to the people of Liberia and what to achieve for the remaining four years. The government put into place its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) at the latter part of the first year. The PAPD is guided by four pillars focusing on empowering Liberians through education, health, youth development and social protection, enabling private sector-led economic growth, supporting a peaceful society, and creating an inclusive and accountable public sector.

    During the period under review, the country’s economy was challenged with rising inflation as a result of significant depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the United States dollar and other factors. This hampered the Government’s ability to fully deliver services and meet other obligations. Consequently, the Government is working with its development partners to help it tackle the economic glitches, while instituting measures to promote growth and development, critical for sustaining peace and stability.

    Following the highly contested 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections that ushered in the George Weah-led administration into office, Liberia is bracing itself for the Senatorial Mid-Term Elections in 2020. The tenure of 15 out of 30 senators will be expiring and those seeking re-election will have to face the electorates. The Legislature has passed a bill for a national referendum to reduce the tenure of the President and members of the House of Representatives from six to five years and senators from nine to seven years. Dual citizenship is also included for the referendum.

    Economic Overview

    Liberia’s economy is projected to contract by 1.4% in 2019, following the modest growth of 1.2% in 2018. Inflation reached 31.3% by August 2019, up from 26.1% the previous year. The non-mining sector is expected to contract by 3.4 per-cent in 2019, on the back of contraction in services and manufacturing and weak performance in agriculture, while mining sector is expected to grow by 7.8% due to increased production of gold and ore.

    The overall fiscal deficit of the central government widened from 4.1% of GDP in FY2017 to 4.8% of GDP in FY2018 and further to an estimated 6.2% in FY2019, reflecting low domestic revenue mobilization and high public spending. Tax revenues accounted for 12.1% of GDP in FY2019, which is low by regional standards. The wage bill increased to 10.1% of GDP or over two-thirds of total expenditures in FY2019, crowding out other recurrent expenditures, particularly the provision of goods and services in the social sectors and infrastructure spending. The larger fiscal deficit led to a rapid increase in public debt from 40.2% of GDP in FY2018 to 54.5% of GDP in FY2019.The Government is currently implementing wage bill reforms intended to reduce the size of the wage bill, going forward.

    Liberia’s current account deficit narrowed to 21.1% in 2019 from 23.4% of GDP in 2018. This was largely due to a decline in imports following the complete UNMIL drawdown, while exports of gold and iron ore rose. However, these improvements were offset by a fall in net income and decline in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and donor transfers, and consequently gross official reserves declined from USD 333 million (2.5 months of import coverage) at end- 2018 to an estimated $280 million (2.1 months of import coverage) at end-2019.

    Liberia’s medium-term growth prospects are expected to improve as macroeconomic stabilization and structural reforms get implemented. Following the expected contraction in 2019, GDP growth is projected to recover to 1.4% in 2020 and further to 3.4% in 2021, driven by the recovery in the non-mining sector and a moderate expansion in the mining sector.

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2019

  • World Bank Group (WBG) Engagement

    The World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Liberia, guides the partnership between the Bank and Liberia over the period FY19-FY24. The CPF focuses on human development and intangible capital, while keeping the balance with investments in infrastructure to consolidate successes of the previous Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) and reinforce the impact of the WBG program aimed at building human capital and boosting private sector development.

    Specifically, the CPF places emphasis on strengthening institutions and creating an enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable growth through transparency and accountability in the public sector, support for commercial agriculture, and the development of micro, small and medium enterprises. The CPF supports infrastructure investments to foster more equitable nationwide development to improve access to basic services and will remain closely aligned with Liberia’s PAPD.

    The WBG Portfolio in Liberia

    As of August 2019, the World Bank active portfolio in Liberia is composed of 19 projects, financed from multiple sources including IDA (National & Regional) and sector specific/thematic trust funds. The value of the portfolio, including all sources of finance is just over $1 billion ($1,093.7 million), 80% ($873.5 million) of which consist of IDA resources (National & Regional). Contributions from development partners to active projects through single and multi-donor trust funds account for close to $220 million. Within this same period, 53% of the portfolio has been disbursed mainly towards the support of key infrastructure sectors (roads & energy), health systems strengthening & disease surveillance (Ebola), agriculture, youth development, waste management, and water supply.

    International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Liberia

    IFC Liberia is focused on achieving private sector development through key investment and advisory initiatives. As of 2019, IFC investment in Liberia comprises of: (i) $18 million financing in four Liberia banks credit lines and Global Trade facility; (ii) $7 million in agriculture financing in the rubber and cocoa sectors; (iii) $9 million (out of $18.5 million) seed investment in West Africa Venture Fund (WAVF) for private equity investment to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  In December 2018, IFC signed a 4-year $6m donor agreement with SIDA (Swedish International Development Corporation Agency) for IFC to implement 10 key advisory programs across key sectors. With this advisory engagement, IFC will work with the World Bank, Government of Liberia, and the private sector to improve the business climate and unlock key investment opportunities in the country.

    IFC’s on-the-ground presence since June 2007 has enabled it to scale up activities with discussions ongoing on a number of potential investments in agribusiness, power and financial services. The IFC Liberia advisory program (supported by SIDA) focuses on 4 key areas to be implemented from 2019 - 2022: i) agriculture value chain development, ii) trade facilitation, iii) improving access to finance, and iv) business climate reform. IFC’s investment portfolio is diversified across sectors however, has focus on agriculture and financial services sectors, which present viable and sustainable investment and employment opportunities.

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2019

  • For the transport sector, a total of 246 kilometers of road connecting Monrovia, Gbarnga, Ganta and Guinea border were rehabilitated, reducing travel time by 50%, and improving access to the port of Monrovia. The road rehabilitation works created jobs for over 1000 unskilled Liberians, some of whom acquired technical skills through capacity building activities such as: on the job training in different technical areas. This sector saw the design of key policies (the National Road Fund Act, the Road Act and the Road Agency Act), development of a multi-modal transport plan together with a strategic investment plan, and road safety analysis coupled with road safety training for technical staff. Of major importance is the technical support for the operationalization of the newly established National Road Fund (2018), designed to allocate up to 40% of annual revenues towards road rehabilitation projects. Institutionally, operationalization of the Fund would also include the proposal of critical reforms within the sector and the development of the human capital necessary to transition the Infrastructure Implementation Unit into a future road agency.

    Under the energy sector, the Bank has supported electrification in Liberia with a programmatic approach aimed at scaling up grid and off-grid options. A 10MW thermal plant was financed at a time when the main hydropower plant was undergoing rehabilitation. Heavy fuel oil (HFO) storage tanks, and associated facilities, were financed to help the transition from high cost diesel to lower cost HFO. Along key corridors, the Bank has extended electricity to 15 communities and connected 46,500 households and 450 commercial customers (to date: 30,000 customers have been connected). To ensure the sustainability and efficiency of these connections, the Bank has also prioritized the expansion and rehabilitation of transmission and distribution. Beyond the main urban center, Monrovia, 16,200 people in remote rural areas of the country have benefited from stand-alone systems including: solar lanterns and small solar home systems. On the policy level, the Bank supported the development of an optimization hydropower study to link Liberia to the regional energy market allowing it to switch from a seasonal supply to a year-round hydropower/solar based supply of electricity. In addition, the future Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) line aims to: (i) increase the supply of cost-effective electricity during the dry season, (ii) increase revenues for the national utility, (iii) expand electrification to remote areas, and (iv) open access to larger markets nationally and regionally.

    In support of the health sector, the Bank has financed construction of critical infrastructure and capacity building. In infrastructure, a new hospital, the Redemption Hospital is under construction and will be the largest referral center for maternal and child care in the country. In addition, the Bank has also financed the construction of: (i) 48 isolation and Ebola treatment centers and maternal-child health centers; (ii) staff housing; and (iii) two student dormitory buildings (total capacity of 96 students) that include 2 classrooms buildings and a mini-lab for undergraduate medical students. In capacity building, training has been delivered to different health providers, including 45 post graduates in medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and surgery, and mental health care providers (first time in country). Financing has also supported comprehensive maternal health care at seven hospitals and one health center; and referral systems in targeted areas. A performance-based financing model has been adopted and launched in 8 hospitals across three counties. During and after Ebola, the disease surveillance has been a key priority under the World Bank program including coordination with in-country partners to reduce the impact of any future outbreaks that may be devastating to the country.

    In support for youth development, since 2017, the Youth Opportunities Project has enrolled 8,144 youth, 50% of whom are women. Through a productive public works and life skills support activity, the project has enrolled 7,344 beneficiaries in hard to reach communities in rural Liberia. Beneficiaries of this component have cultivated over 8,000 acres of farmland with a variety of food crops. The second component, Household Enterprise Support, has helped to establish 99 small businesses with training and business startup grants. The project has thus far graduated 440 youth from a Business Startup training.

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2019

  • Donor Coordination

    In 2018/19 the World Bank was the co-chair of the Consultative Partners Group (CPG), an in-country donor coordinating body formed by heads of agencies. The CPG is a forum formed around key development challenges in the country whereby financing is coordinated with an aim to enhance development impact. In addition, the Liberia country program has received significant contributions from development partners. The Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund has been financed by Germany (KfW), the United Kingdom (DFID), the European Union, Sweden (Sida), Irish Aid and Norway in support of: transport, energy, and waste management. In governance and human development, our key partners are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union, and Sida. In health and education, major multi-donor trust funds like the Global Financing Facility (GFF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) have provided seed funding for core work in these sectors. Also in health, the GFF leads the dialogue (and convening joint missions) with development partners committed to the country’s investment case for maternal, child and adolescent health (USAID, Global Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Government of Japan, The Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), International Planned Parenthood Federation and Last Mile Health). In productive sectors, Norway has been the only financier of the World Bank program, and in agriculture, a close partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) could double the recently approved STAR-P IDA program.

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2019

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LENDING

Liberia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
German Embassy Compound
Tubman Boulevard, Oldest Congo Town
Monrovia, Liberia
+231-88-6-531-407
For general information and inquiries
Michael Nyumah Sahr
Communications Associate
+231-88-6-606-967
msahr@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
liberiaalert@worldbank.org