Liberian president projects a growth rate of 6 to 7 per cent in the next two years post the Ebola outbreak.
The World Bank has said that Liberia has gone from -0.4 per cent to what they say now is 1 to 3 per cent growth. However, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, “I don’t accept those projections, given our resource availability… in the next 10 years there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be in double digits if we use those resources well.”
Sirleaf told CNBC Africa that Liberia is well-endowed with natural mining resources such as iron ore, gold and with forest resources representing about 43 per cent of the biodiversity in West Africa.
“Those resources are put to use in a relatively small population of four million, and with the potential of regional integration and cooperation that expands that population to almost 40 million – It’s possible for us to achieve that growth.”
Sirleaf acknowledges that Ebola presented a big setback for Liberia and their diversification and transformative goals.
On the key take-away lessons from the Ebola outbreak, Sirleaf said, “The role of communities, we were able to empower our communities and they actually took ownership, took responsibility and all we did was provide them with leadership and motivation and with the means for them to go out and do what was necessary.”
She added that Liberia had a very able and committed technical called The Incidence Management System, which up to this day, has followed through with vigilance.
“Our leadership [from all sectors] was such a formidable force that the disease had to go away,” she said.
In response to the African Union’s (AU) slow response to the Ebola epidemic, Sirleaf said, “This was a strange disease, we ran away too… nobody knew what it was- we all ran away. So I can expect that people from the AU were frightened.”
Sirleaf’s visit, over and above the AU, was to appeal to South African business and political leaders to create trade relations with Liberia. This attempt had previously not been successful.
“I think we have demonstrated that even under the most difficult of adversities, we have the capacity to move, we have the capacity to grow,” emphasised Sirleaf.
She substantiated that Liberia is also coming forth now with a new level of confidence. There have been meetings with the Chamber of Commerce and prospects that this time something will work.