Once one of the most stable and prosperous nations in Africa, Liberia was devastated by two decades of civil war which killed almost ten percent of the population and more than halved the size of the economy.
The country is only now on the road to recovery. Peace was negotiated in 2003, and in 2005 free and fair elections brought Africa's first female Head of State, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, into office.
The Liberian government is trying to rebuild the country with a broad set of policies to foster peace, accelerate reconstruction and development, and build strong systems of governance. Security in the country has stabilised with the ongoing support of the United Nations. In 2010 the Government was able to cancel $4.9bn of debt by reaching the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, with financial reforms approved by the World Bank and IMF, leaving greater resources available for investment in public services and poverty reduction.
Significant new inward investment has been secured to rebuild Liberia’s infrastructure and generate economic growth, including for the exploration of offshore oil and the development of sustainable supplies of renewable energy. In 2010, improved prospects for the economy were boosted by the re-commencement of direct flights to the United States, a big symbolic moment.
Road projects have been completed and the electricity network in Monrovia upgraded, doubling installed electricity capacity. But there are still enormous challenges to be faced to ensure the “peace dividend” is realised: the security situation remains fragile, unemployment remains high, and physical infrastructure such as roads and power is still inadequate.
Crucially, the government needs to develop the capacity to deliver effectively for the people of Liberia, which is so essential to the credibility and sustainability of the emerging democratic process.
AGI has been working in Liberia since 2009. Initially, the team was based within the Office of the President, strengthening coordination, planning and prioritisation. The President has argued that “a well performing Presidency enhances the work of all of our other sector ministries”. AGI’s work helped the President spend more time on her priority projects, especially for infrastructure.
After the President was re-elected in November 2011, AGI was asked to extend its mandate to help deliver the President’s priorities across government. AGI’s first step was to help design an Action Plan for the government’s first 150 days. Over 70% of the actions targeted in the 150 day plan were completed on schedule, including critical road projects, a vocational training college and the first steps in the renovation of the Freeport of Monrovia.
AGI’s team in Liberia now comprises six advisors, who work with visionary leaders and rising stars across government. Currently, the team is based at the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Works and the National Investment Commission, as well as the Office of the President.