Liberia

Republic of Liberia
Population 4,195,666 (July 2015 est.)
Independence 1847
Languages English (official)
Form of government Republic
GDP (2014) $2.028 billion; per capita (2014): $900

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is a West African country bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. . Founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves in 1847, Liberia experienced relative peace until a military coup in 1980, which was followed by nine years of authoritarian rule. In 1989, a rebellion led by opposition leader Charles Taylor launched a civil war in which an estimated 250,000 were killed and many thousands were displaced.

Conflict persisted until 2003, when Taylor, then president, was convicted in Hague for war crimes related to the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Following President Taylor’s subsequent resignation, current President H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected in free and fair elections in 2005. Despite the peace that followed, Liberia’s economy and social development has stagnated as a result of the conflict.

President Johnson Sirleaf’s government was hailed by the international community for its promising efforts in reconstruction and stabilization, but the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 slowed Liberia’s progress. The country was declared Ebola-free in May 2015, and has since seen only a small number of isolated cases.

 

Government Title Name
President H.E. Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF
Vice President H.E. Joseph BOAKAI
Minister of Finance H.E. Boima KAMARA
g7+ Focal Point Mr. Theo ADDEY, Aid Coordination Unit, Ministry of Finance

New Deal Implementation

Liberia has been a member of g7+ since 2010 and was heavily involved in the establishment of the New Deal process. It was in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, that the New Deal’s five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals were first formulated and endorsed. Liberia is one of the seven New Deal pilot countries; it completed a fragility assessment in 2012 and has started discussions on a Compact/Mutual Accountability Framework.

The president is the chief of state and head of government. The president and the vice president are elected on the same ticket to a six-year term, with a maximum of two terms. The vice president serves as president of the Senate, one house of the bicameral legislature. The vice president ascends to the presidency in the event of the president’s death or resignation from office. The cabinet is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2017.

The legislature, known as the National Assembly, consists of the 30-seat Senate and the 73-seat House of Representatives. Members of the Senate are directly elected to serve nine-year terms, with terms staggered to account for elections every three years; the most recent elections took place in 2014 after a brief postponement due to the Ebola crisis. Members of the House of Representatives are directly elected to serve six-year terms; the last elections took place in 2011, and the next will take place alongside the presidential elections 2017.

 

In 2010, Liberia adopted a National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance as part of its peace and reconciliation efforts. The policy enabled transfer of political, budgetary and administrative power to local governments. Mayors and town chiefs are appointed by the central government, but discussions in government and civil society are ongoing to explore the potential of holding local elections. Further legislative efforts in 2014 and 2015 supported ongoing decentralization.

Liberia relies heavily on donor funding; the country has the highest ratio of foreign assistance to GDP in the world. Despite gains in recent years, employment is low and access to social services is limited. Schools and health centers were shut down for months due to the Ebola crisis, and in 2015 were just beginning to recover. High fiscal deficits, rising prices, food insecurity, and loss of livelihoods due to Ebola pose challenges to increasing household income and broad-based economic growth.

Liberia’s April 2015 Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan lays out an agenda for action that focuses on three core objectives: (1) Revitalize growth to pre-crisis levels while ensuring that it is inclusive and creates more and better jobs; (2) Provide support for the poor and other at-risk groups to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability; and (3) Rebuild and strengthen the capacity to deliver core social services, including education and health, with improved coverage in rural areas.

Liberia is rich in natural resources; iron ore and rubber are its primary exports, and it also attracts foreign direct investment in the gold, diamonds, and timber industries. The government has prioritized responsible extractive industry development, and was the first African country to comply with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Lack of basic infrastructure, including energy and roads, is the primary constraint to private sector development.

The government has prioritized certain non-extractive sectors for further growth, including agribusiness, energy and power generation, infrastructure development, construction and real estate, manufacturing, and transportation. Some foreign firms departed the country during the Ebola epidemic, but ongoing institutional and regulatory reforms are continuing to improve the business environment, and the post-Ebola recovery offers significant opportunities for domestic and foreign investment.