The Liberian Economy has experienced a remarkable surge in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) jumping from 7.5 percent in 2012 to 8.1 percent in 2013, representing 8 percent increment, Finance Minister Amara Konneh revealed Tuesday in Monrovia.
"On the economy as a whole, the fundamentals of the economy still remain solid. We have grown at an annual average of 7 percent since 2003, reflecting the peace dividends following the end of a protracted civil war.
"Real economic growth remains on a solid footing. Our revised projections for 2013 imply a real GDP growth of 8.1 percent, compared to 7.5 percent in 2012. The higher-than-anticipated growth at the time of the first review is associated mainly to stronger mining activity. "
"At the same time, non-resource real GDP growth (construction in particular), has accelerated in the first half of the year reflecting the pick-up in public investment compared to 2012, as well as robust private investment," he explained.
Minister Konneh pointed out that improved economic activities in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors immensely contributed to the growth of the domestic economy, and that the industrial and manufacturing sector expanded substantially in 2012, attributing the success to the first full year of iron ore production from the Yekepa mine run by Arcelor Mittal.
He said the sector accounted for about 21% of GDP in 2012, but only employed about 8% of the labor force, but this share could increase as investments in iron ore production from China Union is expected to come online soon.
In the oil sector, he disclosed that one of the companies here African Petroleum, is determining the commercial viability of discoveries made in February 2012, but the awarding of additional offshore blocks has been suspended, pending a review of the petroleum policy.
Commenting on the manufacture industry, the Minister said particularly cement, beverages, woodwork, printing, and various consumer goods will continue to have a limited impact on output and growth, adding that the sector suffers from insufficient and prohibitively expensive electricity supply, shortage of skilled labor, coupled with high cost of inputs, and limited production capacity.
"The services sector contributed around 43% of GDP in 2012. Main activities include trade and hotels, government services, real estate, transport and communication, and construction", the Finance Minister said.
He said despite the rapid growth, the country's development roadmap, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) recognizes that the main drawback from this growth is the limited number of jobs created as the expansion of the economy has been driven mainly by the extractive sector.
However, he said the Agenda for Transformation will absorb external and internal shocks to the economy, saying "The AfT will attempt to remove structural development obstacles through an estimated USD 3.2 billion program, more than half of which is planned for roads and energy.
As a first major step, he said government has secured financing to rehabilitate the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant, which is expected to provide about 80 MW of power to Monrovia, a substantial increase over the current 23 MW as well as significantly reduce current tariff.