The African Development Bank (AfDB) has passionately urged investors and businesses not to abandon their investments in Liberia and other countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus outbreak. The president of the Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka on Wednesday, August 27, warned of dire economic upshot should investors pull out of economies affected by the virus. He called for rethink by foreign investors and businesses that have already folded up and left. Dr. Kaberuka, a national of Rwanda, arrived in Liberia on a one-day official visit on Wednesday as guest of the Liberian government.
Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia in a joint news conference with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and World Health Organization (WHO) regional director Dr. Luis Gomez Sambo, the AfDB boss announced a US$60 million emergency grant for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to purchase equipment, train health workers [local and international] to fight the Ebola epidemic.
He said the money will be implemented by the WHO to fight the epidemic. The AfDB boss urged investors and business people not to panic and make the embarrassing Ebola situation in Liberia and the Mano River Union (MRU) region worse.
“I am here to show that there is no need to have any concerns about coming to Liberia. Investors are not to be afraid of Ebola because all they need to do is follow the health procedures. I will like to call upon them [investors] and business people not to panic and make the embarrassing Ebola situation worse,” he said.
About 1,400 people have died of the Ebola virus with over 2, 200 cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. The Ebola epidemics have slowed economic growth in the MRU region as foreign investors shut down their businesses and flee for safety.
The Liberian economy was already receding prior to the outbreak of the virus and is now said to be worst hit by the epidemic. The country’s tourism sector is down and hotels are no longer receiving clienteles due to Ebola.
Also worse hit is the domestic [Liberian own] small medium enterprises most of whom have shut down and can no longer pay their debts and their staff due to Ebola. Banks are also affected as debt to equity ratio widens amid default on loan payment by borrowers.
The AfDB president assured the government of the Bank’s commitment to helping to revamp the economic after Ebola is eliminated.
“We have to think about post-Ebola because there is economic impact after the virus has been eliminated. We have to think ahead about what we can do together to stabilize the economy to get it working again–to help with the balance of payment, to ensure that investors coming in their numbers can invest so that jobs can be created,” he said.
Dr. Kaberuka also assured AfDB came to Liberia to render its support during the epidemic and beyond the epidemic.
“I am here as a sign of solidarity for the people of Liberia at the time of enormous challenges. We are working very closely with the government to ensure that Ebola can be eliminated,” he said.
For his part, WHO regional director Dr. Luis Gomez Sambo pledged WHO’s commitment to fighting and eliminating the Ebola virus in Liberia.
Dr. Sambo assured the Liberian government and the public of his organization’s preparedness to deal with the Ebola crisis. In her intervention, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the AfDB through Dr. Kaberuka and the WHO through Dr. Sambo for helping the Liberian government tackle and defeat the Ebola virus.
She also thanked friendly nations including Ivory, Senegal and others, for lifting flight restrictions on Liberia. “I am very pleased to announce that the Ivorian Government has lifted its restrictions on Liberia and that the Senegalese government has also urged SN Brussels to resume flight to Monrovia on August 28,” the President declared.