IDG implemented the Liberia Corridors Development Project, WHICH identified agricultural and non-agricultural investment opportunities along two of Liberia’s growth corridors: the Monrovia-Ganta serving 43% of the population, and Buchanan-Yekepa, characterized by the existence of major rail infrastructure. The objectives of the project were to:
- Identify the appropriate level of rehabilitation needed on primary infrastructure networks along the corridors, including the potential for private sector participation;
- Identify opportunities for investments with maximum returns and growth potential for existing and potential investors, including areas for public investment, public-private partnership or joint venture (formulation of an investment prospectus with costings), and private investment, especially in agriculture;
- Identify projects, activities, and investments with high social development impact, increased employment opportunities, and broadened participation of historically disadvantaged communities;
- Ensure sustainability by developing policy, strategies and frameworks that ensure a holistic participatory and environmentally sound approach to development.
The corridor study team collected primary information that policymakers can use, and prepared specific proposals that should interest potential investors. Baseline information on existing infrastructure (roads, bridges, markets, storage, etc), key activities (businesses) and potential areas of growth and investment (crops and livestock, natural resource endowment and human capacity) was collected. IDG used mobile technology for data collection with Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The Domestic Resource Cost analysis was also used to estimate the economic and financial profitability of cocoa, oil palm, and upland and swamp rice value chains, as well as individual segments within these chains.
Based on the findings from the assessments and analyses, the team subsequently developed over a dozen specific investment proposals, both agriculture and non-agriculture, with high social development impact, increased employment opportunities, and broadened participation of historically disadvantaged communities. Sample proposals include: Support to Cocoa and Oilpalm Farmers’ Associations; Establishing a Livestock Feed Mill; Establishing a Fruit Juice Processing Plant; Community Radio Soap Opera; Covered Market for Ganta and Warehouse for Buchanan. Furthermore, under the Regional Planning component, the context of the region and its characteristics (predominant land uses, and environmental conditions), with snapshots of five major cities within the designated Corridors were provided and the system of roads, railroads, seaports, power supply and airports was analyzed. The team also discussed the concept of Economic Zones, inside and outside of city areas, with an explanation of how city and regional planning can help support the establishment of trade and touristic investments.
To underscore the importance of this project and its high quality level, the final report formed the basis for the Ministry of Planning 2011 Economic Forum which attracted international economists, policy makers, urban planners, infrastructure experts and bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors to discuss opportunities and challenges to Liberia’s rapid economic development. As a part of its poverty reduction strategy, the GoL strives to become a middle-income country by 2030 and the corridors study is tied to this overarching national goal.