By Edward Doe
Next year will mark the 172 anniversary of Liberia’s independence. 172 years may seem long enough for Liberia to find its way but much of the country has struggled to escape the long shadow cast by bad governance. Today, Liberia remains the poorest and least-developed country in Africa and the world.
Hunger, poverty, crime, homelessness, corruption and bribery, disease outbreaks – this continues to be Liberia’s story post-civil war. However, over the past two decades, Liberia has made remarkable progress and embarked on the road to a brighter future via a stable democratic government. However, growing political instability, unambitious economic growth plans, and deplorable living conditions have not paved the way for Liberia’s much-needed socio-economic growth.
Liberia may still be facing many of the same problems before the civil war but much has not been done. But, I remain optimistic about a brighter future for the country.
Despite Liberian leaders’ commitments that 2021 would be the Year of Anti-Corruption, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a gloomy picture, as Liberia’s average score is just 26 out of 100.
Corruption aside, another major problem for Liberia’s future is the high level of unemployment. Although, the average unemployment rate for Liberia is far higher than are countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast where figures hit 27% and 17.9% respectively, according to data from the World Bank. More concerning still is that Liberia’s youth unemployment is set to exceed 60% this year, according to the International Labour Organization. One would expect tackling both corruption and unemployment should be high on the agenda for Weah Administration. But, that has not been the case.
Liberia’s third major priority is to improve health and living conditions. However, no progress has been made in the last few years, Liberia remains the country with the worst medical treatment and living conditions. A direct consequence is an average life expectancy of just 42.8 years, compared to the rest of Africa’s 61 years. There are many factors at play, including poverty, the high prevalence of disease, lack of clean water, and limited access to adequate healthcare.
One thing is clear – despite these setbacks, Liberia has the perfect p requisites to turn things around and capitalize on its potential. The shift to democracy and external initiatives to promote transparency and accountability, are the first major steps towards long-term growth and sustainable business development.
Main Photo: Edward Doe, the author