New York City – At the US-Liberia Trade & Investment Forum held on September 16 th in mid-town Manhattan, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai delivered a keynote address expressing confidence in Liberia’s recovery from the consequences of last year’s Ebola virus crisis and a return to positive economic growth in the West African nation of 3.8 million. Speaking on the Investing in Infrastructure panel later in the afternoon, APM Terminals Liberia Managing Director, George Adjei observed that Liberia’s recovery was well underway, as cargo throughput at the APM Terminals operated Free Port of Monrovia, which handles more than 90% of Liberian foreign trade, has surged by 30% in the first half of 2015 as compared with the first six months of 2014.
“Container throughput at Monrovia will exceed 100,000 TEUs for the first time by the end of this year, and that is a very healthy sign for Liberia” said Mr. Adjei.
Liberian government officials representing Finance and Development Planning, Transport, Agriculture, Land, Mines & Energy, Public Works, and the Managing Director of the National Port Authority, David Williams commented on the potential for growth for Liberian agricultural products, and the necessity of inland transportation infrastructure improvement, particularly roadways, of which under 800 km of the nation’s 10,000 km roadway system are properly paved. It was noted that improved road and rail transportation could also enable Monrovia to serve as a gateway port for interior African cities, as well as neighboring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast commercial and population centers.
The effects of the Ebola virus, which claimed over 11,000 lives in West Africa, including approximately 4,800 in Liberia, on Liberia’s economic output were one of the forum’s primary topics. Liberia’s GDP annual growth rate fell from over 8% in 2013 to under 1% in 2014, and has been projected to expand by 0.9% this year. During the crisis, APM Terminals Liberia kept the port open and operating, handling incoming relief cargoes, as well as donating a 100-bed Ebola treatment center, monitoring staff health and providing other relief services.
APM Terminals Liberia, which has operated Monrovia Free Port since winning a 25-year concession in 2010, has embarked on the second phase of a USD $120 million investment port upgrade and modernization project. Following the completion of a USD $50 million 600 meter quay wall reconstruction earlier this year, a further USD $34.5 1 million will now be spent on improvements to the landside aspects of the facility, which handled 79,000 TEUs in 2014. The project covers yard pavement, improved drainage, construction of new offices and cargo gates, biometric access control systems, CCTV, GPS capability and real-time updates of cargo movement. The project is expected to be completed within 23 months.
“We are doubling the port’s annual container throughput capacity by 2017 to 200,000 TEUs, and we hope to add another 200 meters of quay to accommodate Liberian trade growth and economic expansion; Liberia’s recovery is a fact, and we are ready” said Mr. Adjei.
Press Release 17 September