Ganta, in the Nimba region of Liberia, lies next to the border with Guinea, 265km north-west of the capital Monrovia. The city is growing and thriving, despite being so far from the capital. Its proximity to Guinea contributes to the bustling economic activity thanks to the prevalence of cross-border trade, according to Mahmud Johnson, CEO and founder of J-Palm, a palm oil and palm kernel oil agri-processing company in Liberia.
“In terms of the number of businesses and the presence of entrepreneurial hustle, second to Monrovia, no-one comes close to Ganta,” he says. He believes the city has a good ecosystem for business, with one major benefit being the stable supply of cheaper electricity.
Ganta forms part of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) project that provides electricity to the Nimba grid. WAPP is a co-operation under the Economic Community of West African States, with member states’ national electricity companies working together to establish reliable power to the region.
Ganta is also home to a wholesale market that plays a crucial role in the palm oil trade. A report by the International Trade Centre listed it as one of the three main markets for palm oil in West Africa, along with Diaobé in Senegal and Guéckédou in Guinea. At the time of publication of the report, Ganta was capable of handling 80 to 100 tonnes of palm oil per week with more than half exported to Guinea. According to Liberia’s palm oil export strategy, trade volumes of crude palm oil (the oil squeezed from the fruit of the oil palm tree) from Ganta reached peak levels of 90,000 litres a week, supplying markets as far as Dakar.
“In terms of infrastructure and a thriving ecosystem for business, I would say Ganta is the next best place to look, after Monrovia,” says Johnson.