Chamber of Commerce Survey Highlights Challenges Facing Liberian Businesses

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Students from the AMEU, along with LCC and HCC officials after the presentation of the 2019 Business Condition Survey.

Access to and affordability of electricity, water among key issues

The Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) has conducted and released a survey outlining factors affecting Liberian businesses. Key among those factors identified are energy, water, the currency exchange rate, transportation and petroleum (also an energy resource).

The 2019 Business Condition Survey (BCS), released on Monday, December 16, 2019, indicates that electricity, petroleum and water constitute 79% of challenges facing businesses in Liberia.

Even though the government; mainly the previous administration, exerted some efforts to restore electricity to post-war Monrovia by bringing in some Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) generators and rehabilitating the Mount Coffee Hydro-electric plant through the help of the US Government under the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC), the challenge of power continues to persist that many homes are not yet electrified yet and industries that rely on heavy power to operate cannot have.

Pipe-borne water is yet to be fully restored in the City of Monrovia that businesses and homes are still trucking water for use.

Also considered in the are other issues that include administrative issues which account for 75%, financing 62%, import and export issues 62%, exchange rate 59%, infrastructural deficit and cost of transportation 52%, lack of customers 51%, prices of raw material 34%, lack of skilled workers 27%, internal security or justice 2%, cost of labor 17% and others.

The survey aimed to help the Chamber of Commerce with evidence-based facts that will enable it to advocate and lobby for solid policy positions under one voice for the private sector.

With technical assistance from the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce (HCC), Germany, the LCC conducted face-to-face and online surveys with businesses. The BCS is the first of its kind under the Liberia Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Konow, head of International Projects and Partnerships at the HCC, expressed gratitude to students from the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) for the strong collaboration in ensuring that the survey was successful.

Konow said: “Without you, we would never have gotten such excellent raw data, so once again, thank you all.” He made these statements when he presented the 2019 BCS report at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, in Monrovia.

According to him, there is no major difference in the factors limiting business activities between the overall economies.

Konow emphasized the exchange rate as one major challenge for the Liberian economy and the trade sector, stressing that it is even more important for export and import.

He said the Liberian business community wants to be represented by a business membership organization that will advocate on their behalf.

“So, we are encouraging the LCC to do more when it comes to representing Liberian businesses,” Konow said.

In the World Bank Doing Business 2019 report, Liberia ranked 75 out of 190 countries when it comes to ease in starting up a small and medium-size business.

The report took into consideration the number of procedures, time, cost and paid-in minimum capital requirement for a small to medium-sized limited liability company to start up and formally operate in each economy’s largest business city. However, Liberia scored favorable points in this section – 88.9 points out of 100.

In consonance with the Chamber’s survey, the World Bank Doing Business 2019 Report named electricity as a major constraint impeding the operation of a business in Liberia. The World Bank, a major partner to the Government of Liberia for the provision of electricity, graded Liberia’s score in this section at 39.1% with a rank of 175. The regional average is 50.4 with Rwanda topping with 82.3 and ranking 54 out of the 190 countries.

Liberia is at the bottom in the region when it comes to registering the property for business with a score of 31.9, Liberia ranks 180 out of 190 countries.

Speaking earlier, Chamber of Commerce Secretary General, SalaMartu Duncan, also expressed delight for the successful conduct of the survey.

Ms. Duncan said as an institution responsible to advocate for business, she will ensure that the Chamber of Commerce works in partnership with the government to provide a good business environment for all.

She also acknowledged that the LCC is guilty in its quest to represent Liberian businesses as well as providing them opportunities that they need to operate.

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