African Development Fund extends US$3 million in additional financing for Liberia’s Special Agro-Processing Zone scheme

Women selling various grains at a community market in Monrovia, Liberia.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved an additional $3 million of mixed financing for the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone project in Liberia.

The financing, approved on October 12, comprises a loan of $2.92 million and an $80,000 grant sourced from the African Development Fund, the Bank Group's concessional lending arm for the continent’s low-income countries. On 20 October 2021, the African Development Bank Group’s Board approved an initial $15.2 million in loans and grants for the project.

The funds will help build additional capacity along value chains in key commodities for farmers, cover the cost of equipment for industrial skills training, and pay the salaries of three full-time consultants to complement existing project staff. The project, located in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, will be rolled out over five years (2022-2026) and implemented by the National Investment Commission of Liberia.

The project is expected to assist in cutting imports of staple foods, create jobs, and alleviate poverty. It will also stimulate increased investment in the agro-industrial sector, spur opportunities for private sector investments at the industrial level and drive the integration of smallholder farms and agro-processors into sustained agro-value chains.

The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone project forms part of the Liberia Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (2017- 2025) and the country’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (2018-2023).

It aligns with the second Pillar of the Bank’s Country Strategy Paper 2019-2023 on improving economic governance and enhancing private sector development. The project also aligns with the Bank’s ‘Feed Africa’ Strategy (2016-2025) and its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (2016-2025), designed to tackle unemployment and underemployment across the continent.

Benedict Kanu, African Development Bank Country Manager for Liberia, said Wednesday’s approval was timely and constituted vital support for advancing the Government’s Special Economic Zones agenda.  He added: “The Government’s Special Economic Zones initiative could directly enhance economic diversification by attracting critical foreign direct investment, achieving higher exports and creating badly needed jobs for young men and women, while also serving as an ingredient to upgrade the local industrial base, and catalyze innovation, knowledge and technological spillovers.”