Measuring the pulse of Economic Transformation in West Africa
Senior country economist for Liberia
Patrick Hettinger has been the AfDB’s Senior Country Economist for Liberia since October 2011. He previously worked as an economist with the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea focusing on monetary policy implementation and research, at the International Monetary Fund preparing the World Economic Outlook, and as a small business development consultant in Senegal.
A previous post discussed some of the challenges Liberia is facing in the light of weaker economic growth and how it should focus its efforts on improving the business environment, increasing productivity and value-added in agriculture, and attracting investment in non-extractive sectors. A key part of this effort is to address Liberia’s severely inadequate energy and road infrastructure, which have been identified by various analyses as a critical binding constraint to private sector development and diversification, as well as public service delivery. As such, the government has placed strong emphasis on infrastructure development in its development agenda. This post discusses the country’s progress in addressing its infrastructure deficit.
An August 2014 blog post during the escalation of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in Liberia considered how, beyond the health crisis, the outbreak was having a significant impact on Liberia’s economy. Two years down the line, the threat of the virus has receded, yet the economy is facing other challenges, most prominently the drop in commodity prices. The country is at a critical juncture where it should increase attention on enabling the private sector to drive inclusive growth. This post is the first of a short series dedicated to Liberia to discuss some of the issues involved in the process.
With over 400 deaths in Liberia and more than 1,000 across West Africa, the Ebola epidemic has been the deadliest in history and has spread fear and panic across the region. But beyond the terrifying health crisis, the Ebola outbreak threatens to reverse much of the economic and social progress Liberia has made over its decade of peace. While GDP growth had averaged over 8% since 2011, it was already forecast to slow down to 5.9% in 2014 due to slower growth in iron ore production, weak timber and rubber exports growth, and the gradual drawdown of the United Nations force (UNMIL). However, restrictions on transportation and commerce, the withdrawal of international workers, a slowdown of investment, and a panicked population will further reduce growth this year. Containing the crisis rapidly will be critical to preserve the progress made, and to reduce risks to the short- and medium-term outlook.
- KPMG Africa Blog
- UN Women, West and Central Africa
- The Trade Post | Making international trade work for development
- Institute for Security Studies: West Africa
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