Liberia: “Private Investment Conduits to Job Growth”


— CBL Executive Governor emphasizes

The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), J. Aloysius Tarlue, Jr., on Tuesday lamented that the private investment as the conduit to job growth, government is not an answered to the problem but rather create an enabling environment for the citizens.

He told the participant that if they all depending on government for job, it will be difficult.

Tarlue made these remarks yesterday, May 16, 2023, during the opening of a two-day maiden edition of a trade roadshow conference organized by Oakwood Green Africa Limited (Oakwood Green), in partnership with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Monrovia.

Meanwhile, the trade roadshow will further provide a platform for collaboration and exploration of new investment and trade opportunities for businesses and investors across the continent.

Tarlue noted that investing in the private of any country, which is the engine of growth, can help boost the economy of that country as well as create job opportunities for its citizens.

 He said, "So, when the people from Oakwood and Afreximbank contacted us, we feel that the more private investment we have in Liberia, the better our economy will grow."

But with a national literacy rate of just under 50 percent, much of the Liberian labor force is unskilled as foreign companies find it difficult in locating local skilled labor, the US Department of State said in its 2022 investment Climate report. 

The report, released last year, comes a year after the IMF reported that Liberia’s severe underdevelopment is the result of its human and knowledge capital not being developed to productively and sustainably exploit the country’s natural resources and produce wealth.

This illuminating assessment comes as Liberia's economically active population transitions into the labor market are expected to grow from 1.6 million in 2018 to nearly 2 million in 2023, with nearly 80 percent of them found in informal employment, according to the IMF.

Tarlue explained, “Government alone cannot grow jobs, it is this trade investment they give SME’s, they give institutions money so that they can have ways to employ people, that’s how we grow. So I’m happy that you are here but I hope that this is not just a show. But let’s make sure that it is a proper show that will deliver all that you promising.”

According to him, Afreximbank is a multilateral trade finance institution, which continues to play a major role in promoting, facilitating and financing intra and extra African trade.

Tarlue believes that Afreximbank's vision is to be a trade financing bank for Africa, by stimulating a consistent expansion and diversification for African trade and trade related infrastructure, so as to rapidly increase Africa's share of global trade.

The CBL boss said, “We are here today because we believe in what you are doing, the pips systems will be good in reducing crying, you won’t take money from your pocket and people will attack you and also the idea of transmitting businesses from your country to another.”

Speaking on the trade roadshow, Gabriel Edgal – Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of Oakwood Green Africa Limited, explained: “Significance of this conference cannot be overstated but the action from there will shape the destiny of our region and flourish the odds that exist among us.”   

According to him, the future of Africa they all aspire to can only be shaped in the present, as people within the region ensure that they boost trade.

He, however, disclosed that Liberia’s economy experienced a growth rate of 4.8% in 2022, despite facing challenges from global events such as the war in Ukraine, high inflation, and reduced demand in advanced economies.

Edgal further stated that the expansion was primarily fueled by the mining and agriculture sectors. 

He continued, “Agricultural growth accelerated to 5.9%, up from 3.3% in 2021, mainly due to higher production of rice and cassava.”

The Africa they envision is promising, Edgal said, “but who will do it? Afreximbank and the AfCFTA cannot do it alone and this is why we are in Liberia to host the first maiden trade roadshow conference.”

He noted that the onus is on each one of them to contribute in their small way to realizing this vision. This is what birthed Oakwood Green Africa, this is why they exist.

“Our vision is to Enable Greatness across Africa leveraging partnerships. We are passionate about Africa’s development, and it's amazing potential for greatness. That is why we are committed to facilitating a synergy of great ideas, technology, capital, knowledge, and collective will aimed at enabling greatness across Africa. We are helping to change the African narrative, empowering governments and the private sector to take on new challenges aimed at putting Africa on the track to greatness,” Edgal said.

Earlier in his welcome remark on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Wilfred S. Bangura expressed the commitment to working with the Afreximbank in promoting trade.

Bangura, who is the Deputy Commerce Minister for Administration, said Liberia SMEs breathed an air of sorrow yesterday because of this conference, as it interposes itself to addressing some of the critical challenges they faced as a country, some of which encapsulate access to finance, access to market, and capacity development.

"These challenges, we believe that when they are appropriately and properly addressed, we will go a long way in progressing growth and moving our SMEs to the rightful place where they belong as the true engine of our economy. We are therefore happy today and like to implore all SMEs to take advantage of this golden opportunity as it presents itself to strengthen the right capacity,” he concluded.