Monrovia, 20 July, 2006 - On his first visit to Liberia, the African Development Bank president, Donald Kaberuka, expressed strong support for the country’s reconstruction efforts after years of conflict and civil war and urged the international community to help find a solution to its US$ 3.7 billion debt, restoration of basic services and kick-starting the economy.
He met on Wednesday with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, her Cabinet, Heads of Agencies, and representatives of government institutions and reaffirmed the international community’s backing for the reform process and their readiness to help Liberia rebuild its institutions and public services.
Dr. Kaberuka commended efforts by the government to improve economic management and to re-engage with the international community. "Turning around Liberia’s economy and improving people’s lives is important not only for Liberia, but for the region," he said, adding that "as the African Development Bank develops its new approach for Fragile States, the lessons learnt from Liberia will be important for other countries in similar post-conflict situations."
The AfDB President also highlighted the need to support the Liberian Government to build capacity, pointing to the Bank’s forthcoming ‘Institutional Support Project for Governance and Economic Management’ which should assist the country in this respect.
Currently, Liberia has around US$ 3.7 billion of external debt, including substantial arrears to the multilateral development agencies: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank .
Dr. Kaberuka said that the AfDB would continue to have close dialogue with the Liberian government and other parties under the Bank Group’s Post Conflict Country Facility ‘PCCF.’
The President indicated that the AfDB would like to work with other partners on the issue of provision of water facilities under the Bank Group’s Rural Water Supply program. Liberia would receive maximum attention given the fact that millions of Liberians have no access to clean water, many facilities were destroyed during the war and the migration of rural dwellers to the city of Monrovia and other towns have worsened the situation.
The President was visiting with the U.K. Secretary of State for International Development, Mr. Hilary Benn.
"We remain strongly committed to helping Liberia recover from its tragic past", the AfDB President concluded.
1 Liberia’s arrears to the IMF amount to $750m; its debt to the World Bank is about $510m of which $432m is in arrears; and debt to the African Development Bank is some $200m most of which is in arrears.