11 January 2013

Liberia: Reviving the Ailing Industries


A taxi cab conversation yesterday between two men - one a passenger and the other a driver cruising towards the city centre - revealed the prospects of some companies preparing to revive certain industrial mining sites that have been laid waste for years. Bragging about their driving prowess, especially when using heavy duty equipment, the men, having successfully gone through driving tests, were clearly optimistic about their chances of getting employment with these companies and were also anticipating lucrative salaries to help solve their economic problems. They said they were now awaiting signals from the companies which have already brought state of the art equipment to start work early this year.

We see this development as good news for a country that is plagued with rising unemployment and the concomitant poverty level, blamed on the dwindling fortunes of the manufacturing sector of the nation's economy battered by decades of neglect and a devastating civil war. We hold the view that as the real sector of a country's economy, this is the best time to institute practical measures and formulate complimentary economic policies and programmes to enhance the industrial sector.

Our argument is pegged on the fact that the manufacturing segment of any country's economy remains a fundamental pillar upon which any enduring economic growth and development could be hinged.

In fact, many entrepreneurs in Liberia have found it difficult, of not impossible to operate at full optimum due to many economic and environmental factors that have continued to hamper productivity. Paramount among these operational challenges is the persistent erratic power supply that continues to cripple the industrial sector. There were talks yesterday at a government-arranged news conference of plans to restore electricity; but listeners were quickly told that the ambitious project might not be quickly realized. But we hasten to point out that the immediate but effective rehabilitation of the moribund electrical grids that were vandalized and looted during the civil war will go a long way in reviving the fortunes of the beleaguered manufacturing sector.

Other difficulties to the prosperity of the manufacturing industries are the dwindling credit facilities from banks and other financial institutions; importation of fake and substandard products, as well as inconsistent and unfavourable government's economic policies, among other demanding issues adversely affecting the smooth operation of existing industries in the country.

Another impediment to a thriving industrial sector is the failure to revamp the fast decaying road infrastructure nationwide. With the dry season in full swing, everyone is craving for the speedy renovation of the crumbling roads that have witnessed heavy human and vehicular traffic resulting in depreciation over the decades. The government should, thus, see reason to rise up to its responsibility to rehabilitate the entire dilapidated roads to enhance free movement of people and accelerate economic activities.

All these impediments have prevented the industrial sector from contributing substantially to the overall economic advancement of Liberia. This is besides other debilitating effects of the prostrate manufacturing industry such as high unemployment rate of thousands of youths and importation of all manner of products from overseas.

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