... Here again, the World Bank is not telling the Truth because population growth is not responsible for the emergence and evolution of poverty in Liberia. The World Bank is saying that when Liberia's population growth was low, poverty was low in Liberia and when Liberia's population growth was high, poverty was high in Liberia.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this commentary are solely of the author and do not necessarily represent that of the Daily Observer newspaper.
In its latest Report (2022) on Liberia, the World Bank has stated that population growth in Liberia is responsible for the longstanding and widespread poverty in Liberia. Specifically, the World Bank is saying that: “A key factor limiting Liberia in its ability to increase its wealth and thus raise living standards is persistent high fertility that culminates in rapid population growth."
The World Bank insists that Liberia's population growth rate of 2.5 percent to 3 percent is high and the average of 4.3 births per woman is almost twice the global average, while adolescent fertility in Liberia is 136 births per 1,000 births for women aged 15 years to 49 years, above Africa's average of 101 births per 1,000 births.
The World Bank is wrong again, just like it was wrong when it declared that the strong economic growth in Liberia is good news because it brings development, the sustained betterment in the living conditions of the people of Liberia. In my most recent Commentary, Strong Growth is Weak Development, it was shown that the World Bank is not telling the Truth by indicating that strong economic growth in Liberia is good news because it means economic development and the sustained increase in the living conditions of the people of Liberia.
Here again, the World Bank is not telling the Truth because population growth is not responsible for the emergence and evolution of poverty in Liberia. The World Bank is saying that when Liberia's population growth was low, poverty was low in Liberia and when Liberia's population growth was high, poverty was high in Liberia. In my most recent Commentary, it was presented that when poverty was high in the 1950s, Liberia experienced the second highest economic growth rate per capita in the world. So, the World Bank is not telling the Truth about economic growth, population, and poverty in Liberia.
The Truth of the matter is that the promotion of the colonial system of the production of raw materials for export without the prioritization of Value Addition remains the source of the poverty problem in Liberia. The absence of Value Addition in Liberia means that Liberia is deprived of employment, production, ownership, low and affordable prices for basic goods, including the price of rice in a terrible situation where poverty has become the pretext for violence, including coup d'etat and civil war.
In this terrible situation when the people of Liberia are clear and loud about their preference for Peace over War, the foreign partners of the government of Liberia (GOL), led by the government of the United States of America (USA), have placed sanctions on top GOL officials, citing their corruption.
In effect, the sanctions are the signal for State regime change because the foreign partners are not getting the desired level of profits from their transnational corporations (TNCs). The search for acceptable GOL State managers has already begun with local opportunists running to the foreign partners to get acceptance for the 2023 elections to be managed by the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia which continues to operate in ways that violate the Constitution of Liberia. The local opportunists are no different from the present State managers fundamentally, as they are demonstrating their commitment to promoting the colonial production system but seeking to provide an acceptable level of profits for the TNCs.
In the face of this terrible life-threatening situation, the people who love Liberia have to continue raising awareness in ways that motivate the people of Liberia to work together to change the system of injustice into a system of Justice so that persons with good records can be elected into public offices to serve and not to be served. It is only when the bad system is changed into a good system that persons with good records can be elected. So, let the good people get together and work better for Liberia.
About the author: Togba-Nah Tipoteh, former Chairperson, Africa Group of Governors, World Bank and the IMF