Talking Business: Liberia’s post-war progress challenged by commodity price drop

Akwasi Aninakwah, DHL Express Liberia country manager

Akwasi Aninakwah, DHL Express Liberia country manager

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Liberia has made significant progress since the end of the civil war in 2003. Over the 10 years following democratic elections in 2005, GDP grew by an average annual rate of 6.9% (2005-2014; IMF). However, the recent Ebola outbreak and its spill-over effects had a severe impact on the economy. And like many other emerging markets, the country is also negatively affected by the fall in commodity prices. How we made it in Africa asked Akwasi Aninakwah, DHL Express Liberia country manager, about the opportunities and challenges in Liberia.

1. Name one trend impacting business in Liberia.

The economy is very dependent on mineral resources, agriculture and oil, but all these sectors are facing challenges. Prices for minerals such iron ore and gold have fallen. Many oil companies have also put their projects on hold. And the agriculture sector – mainly rubber and oil palm – are having challenges with global prices and land acquisition.

2. Identify the country’s biggest untapped business opportunity.

Agriculture. There is also potential for hydro-electricity projects, which could supply other countries in the sub-region.

3. Describe some of the challenges investors can expect to encounter.

After Liberia’s decade of civil war, the country still grapples with under-developed infrastructure, bureaucracy and human resource capacity.

4. Who is the local business person that you most admire?

Musa Bility, owner and CEO of Srimex Oil & Gas, a large importer of petroleum products.

5. How do you see the business environment and economy change over the coming years?

The impact of Ebola, mineral resource price slumps and the oil price fall will be felt strongly in the next two years, however I am confident that we can progress our economy in the years to come.

6. Name one tourist attraction business people shouldn’t miss when visiting Liberia.

Blue Lake in Bomi County and Kpatawee Waterfall in Bong County.

[box type=”note”]Meet Akwasi Aninakwah

1. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk? 7.45am

2. How do you relax? Watching action movies

3. Best book you’ve ever read? Don’t Choke by Gary Player.

4. Top holiday destination? Dubai

5. Favourite quote? “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”[/box]