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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Liberia
2018-06-18T19:25:02Z | 2018-06-18T19:25:02Z | 2018-04

Liberia’s status as a fragile state is deeply rooted in the political and economic exclusion practiced by the country’s founders. Although they constituted just 5 percent of the population, freed American slaves and their descendants dominated the country’s intellectual and ruling class from 1847 to 1990. While Liberia’s sixteen indigenous ethnic groups4 comprise over 90 percent of the population, the country’s political system was created to protect the small minority of settlers rather than to promote inclusive development or advance the public interest. Property rights were extremely limited, and administrative power was both centralized in Monrovia and concentrated in the executive branch. Political accountability was minimal, the country’s resources were exclusively controlled by its political and economic elite, and infrastructure and basic social services were largely unavailable outside of a few major cities. This unbalanced development pattern gave rise to vast disparities in power and wealth between rural and urban areas. Wealth inequality exacerbated ethnic and class rivalries, leading to a coup d’état in 1980 followed by two devastating civil wars. These conflicts claimed over 300,000 lives and caused the complete collapse of both the state and the economy, derailing Liberia’s development and compounding its already severe institutional and governance challenges.In 2012, the government of Liberia published its national strategic vision, Liberia Rising 2030. This plan is designed to enable Liberia to achieve middle-income country (MIC) status1 by 2030 through peaceful and inclusive politics, stable institutions, economic diversification, and accelerated human capital formation. The Agenda for Transformation, a medium-term development plan for 2013–17, attempted to advance the government’s vision by focusing on Liberia’s primary development challenges of consolidating peace and security, developing the manufacturing and service sectors, investing in human capital, improving the quality of governance, and strengthening public institutions. In line with the government’s objectives, this Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) explores the various challenges facing Liberia as it strives to achieve MIC status by 2030.


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