Liberia to Economically Shine in 2004?

By Alex Redd


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 12, 2004


When an opportunity has been lost, there is often the assumption which is commonly portrayed in the media that Africa is a risky investment. This, in reality, is simply not the case.

In fact, there are huge opportunities going begging on this continent. The only proviso is that intensive research must be carried out on every factor prior to implementation. Liberia and four other African nations are in the foresight of many wealthy western countries and private investors for the exploration of business opportunities this new year and beyond.

Liberia is forecast and ranked among the top ten as the world’s third fastest growing economy in 2004, writes the Economist Intelligent Unit 2004 newly released edition. Chad, as number one, Equatorial Guinea, as number two, Liberia, as number three with Mozambique, at the bottom, as number ten on the latest list of the world 2004 in figures. These four African countries are now considered to become dominant as the world’s fastest-growing economies in 2004.

It is estimated that oil producers will become the top on the list of wealthy nations with purchasing power such as the US, Britain, China, Germany and France, for instance. In the global league of economic growth, there are three emerging oil producers: Chad has a new pipeline to do just that.

Next is Liberia with Iraq as the fourth on the list; both countries are recovering from bitter conflict. It can be recalled in 2002, the former Liberian government of Mr. Charles Taylor, announced that western engineers arrived in the country and later discovered the potentiality of oil production in abundance. Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Mozambique are very poor countries with stagnant economies. The recent discovery and subsequent exploration of oil reserves looks set to boost the fortunes of these countries. Liberia seen as a third potential country with the fastest economic growth this year is already drawing the attention of western nations and investors.

Liberia’s export partners in 2002: Germany, 54%; Poland 8.9%; France 8.5%; China 4.9%; Italy 4.5% and the USA 4.2% are poised to get down to business once again as Liberia rebounds from its current circle of violence and political instability. Besides oil, it is also expected that foreign investors and core nations will explore other major resources of the country, namely, iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold and hydropower. With new development in sight , the population of Liberia is below the poverty line of 80% while its literacy rate stands at 57.5%. The country’s environmental conditions are more startling; tropical rain forest deforestation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage are impending environmental hazard for the country’s future. Equatorial Guinea, the predicted second fastest growing economy this year, will have a strong foothold to invite many foreign investors. The country’s president, Nguema Mbasogo has repeatedly called for a British embassy there as the US has already established its embassy there. Equatorial Guinea has no public library and no independent newspaper service.

Its population of 410,000 borders Cameroon and Gabon in the Midwestern part of Africa. The president, Nguema Mbasogo, a retired Brigadier General has a reputation for cracking down on political opposition and as well possessing a firm grip on state power. The country’s official languages are French and Spanish with Pidgin English and Fang as subs. In Malabo, capital of the country, American investors have built contemporary bases spending millions for oil export. It is estimated that the end of 2004 will ring in 500 million in oil revenue from recent discovery of underwater oil resources there. The country’s major trading partners are the USA, Japan, Spain, China, Nigeria and Cameroon. Chad, forecast as the number one fastest growing economy in 2004, is still embroiled in ethnic conflict.

Chad, as part of France’s holding till August 1960, there is a record of three decade of ethnic warfare, including invasions by Libya. The 1990s saw semblance of peace restored following the 1996-1997 multiparty Presidential and National Assembly elections. With current power in the hands of the northern oligarchy, rebellion sparked up in 1998 in the northern part of Chad, which lasted through the year 2000 between the government and rebels. Despite the peace deal signed between the two parties to the conflict, a gloomy political stability still looms the country’s future. Chad, three times larger than California, has 200 distinct ethnic groups. The literacy rate is measured around 47.5%. Reports say, N’Djamena, the capital, is already sensing the boom of the new economy. In 2000 the country had an estimated external debt at 1.1 billion. Its major export commodities, apart from oil, are cotton, cattle and gum Arabic. Chad’s trading partners: Portugal, Germany, USA, Czech Republic, France, Nigeria, Poland, Spain and Morocco are potential investors to pump in millions with the sole aim to gain access to primary products there.

Mozambique, which falls at number ten, recovered from its prolonged warfare between government and rebels following a United Nations negotiation to end the fighting in 1992. The current government of President Joquim Chissano, has a sound economic policy; this policy has encouraged many foreign investors into the country. The population of Mozambique is estimated at 17,479,266 with about 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Its literacy rate is 47.8% while its primary natural resources are coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower, tantalum and graphite.

The World in Figures: World’s Top Ten Fastest Economy GDP

GDP growth, %
Chad 58.0
Equatorial Guinea 23.0
Liberia 20.0
Iraq 19.0
Kazakhstan 10.1
Georgia 10.0
Turkmenistan 10.0
China 8.2
Azerbaijan 8.0
Mozambique 8.0

Sources: The Economist 2004

The CIA World Fact Book 2003