Ebola Disease Cripples Liberia’s Economy

BY: Martin C. Benson

MONROVIA—A 44 –year- old Liberian businessman, Solomon Wah sat at his mini provisions shop worrying about Ebola virus, “the cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down,” he said.

Solomon Wah who runs the provisions shop in the commercial District of Red Light in Monrovia, told the Liberian Listener that it was “truly frightening to think where the country [was heading]…if the current trend continued”

Liberia has been battling Ebola since March this year, and since then business activities for Solomon has not been quite the same.

Ebola is a viral disease and it is highly contagious, and its outbreak has been a burden on West Africa’s economy which has seen canceled flights redirect their routes from Liberia, closed borders- the widespread anxiety over the Ebola epidemic has taken a toll on the lives of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and it is seriously affecting the economies of West Africa generally and especially the Mano River Unions countries.

In Liberia people can no longer move freely since the government introduced straight security measures, when President Ellen johnson evoked her presidential powers suspending provisions in the constitution as she declared a state of emergency in an effort to contain the virus. This adds virtually to the slowdown in the nation’s economy, according to forecasts

Like Solomon’s small shop, other small businesses around the country are faced with these same difficulties, largely, because people are avoiding each other and local markets are completely deserted.

The economic impact is already being felt. Monrovia’s hotels are emptying, and international business executives, tourists and staffs from non-governmental organizations are leaving the country.

British Airways has suspended flights to Liberia as have other major Airlines. Concession operations from mining to agriculture may be hit next. already Accelor Mantal is complaining. Palm oil production, a crucial industry, is particularly at risk. Liberia’s economy was enjoying a healthy growth before the outbreak, and the damage done has seen Liberia’s economy crippled.

“The reason this economic threat is so great is because of the controls needed to fight the disease. Save for the two airports remaining open in Liberia, our borders have been closed, schools and markets shut, the movement of people restricted, affected areas quarantined, and troops stationed on the streets. All of this means a virtual economic standstill,” said Amara Konneh, Liberia’s Finance Minister in a recent speech.

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