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Country Reports

Liberia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The inauguration of President George Weah on 22 January 2018 marked Liberia’s first peaceful handover of power from one democratically elected president to another in decades. This paves the way for a stable first term in office with civil war risks remaining low. However, this is conditional on the new government’s ability to deliver the changes expected by Weah’s supporters, namely jobs, improved services and a better quality of life for the country’s poorest people. If not, violent protest risks will increase from early 2020. The government’s development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, was launched in October 2018 and features four pillars: ‘Power to the People’; ‘The Economy and Jobs’; ‘Sustaining the Peace’; and ‘Governance and Transparency’. Weah’s primary focus is on infrastructure development and job creation for poor Liberians, which is likely to be bankrolled by squeezing the private sector through new, indirect taxes that go beyond the remit of concession or mineral development agreements. Liberia recorded headline GDP growth of 2.5% in 2017, but IHS Markit projects a stronger growth rate of 4.6% in 2019. Increased agricultural production. Weah has identified this as key to implementing his government’s development agenda; sustained recovery in the mining sector (especially gold); and a moderate rebound in the construction sector will support the positive trajectory. IHS Markit expects the current-account deficit to widen, owing to declining currency transfers outweighing moderately improved exports. Weah has committed to attracting much-needed additional foreign direct investment to Liberia, but has yet to offer significant incentives for foreign businesses considering entering the Liberian market. Instead, the private sector is being subjected to increasing levels of corruption, including bribery demands from senior government officials, which is likely to worsen the business environment and dampen investor confidence.
Last update: February 16, 2019

Operational Outlook

The previous government made strenuous efforts to attract foreign investment and President Weah has expressed his commitment to further improving the country's appeal to investors, although limited incentives are in evidence to date for new entrants. Most foreign direct investment remains in the extractive and agribusiness sectors. Weah has pledged to prioritise job creation, infrastructure development, and anti-corruption measures. The labour force is largely unskilled and corruption remains high in the public sector, dampening business operations and public service delivery. Strikes over pay are likely.

Last update: February 16, 2019

Terrorism

High

Violent protests and riots do occur, but major terrorist activity has been limited since the end of the civil war in 2003. Joint military operations with Côte d'Ivoire combined with UN support have mitigated terrorism concerns along the porous border in Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties, where armed gangs have been known to launch sporadic attacks. Liberia's participation in UN peacekeeping operations poses a risk of Islamist terrorist attacks and kidnapping, but this is low due to the lack of a local support network in the country.

Last update: October 16, 2018

Crime

The threat from violent crime to social stability has decreased owing to an improvement in Liberia's security services, mentored by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). High levels of criminality persist, however, due to the pervading culture of impunity, drug abuse, and high unemployment or under-employment. Sexual violence remains a serious problem, despite former president Sirleaf's pledge to tackle the issue. Much of the crime is opportunistic and perpetrated by disorganised and amateur groups. Mob justice is a regular and serious issue, resulting from poor perceptions of police and judicial responsiveness to crime.

Last update: February 16, 2019

War Risks

Civil war risks receded following George Weah's election as president in December 2017. His opponent Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) conceded peacefully with no backlash from UP supporters, ushering in Liberia's first democratic handover of power in decades. Furthermore, improved armed forces training has left the military in a stronger position to quell any uprising that could lead to a renewed civil war. After 13 years in Liberia, UNMIL ended its mission in March 2018 following the peaceful handover of power. Inter-state war risks are low.

Last update: February 16, 2019

Social Stability

High

The risk of violence between supporters of opposing political parties has reduced since defeated presidential candidate Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party accepted the victory of CDC leader George Weah in elections on 26 December 2017. Weah has pledged pro-poor policies aimed at job creation and raising living standards. With expectations high, the risk of protests and riots will increase by early 2020 if Weah fails to deliver, particularly in Monrovia. Riots can result in looting and vandalism of private property, government property, and commercial assets including telecoms infrastructure, supermarkets, and filling stations.

Last update: February 16, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over one year of age entering the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Monrovia is regularly affected by heavy rains between May and November, making it one of the wettest capitals. These rains often cause major flooding and the lack of adequate infrastructure hampers proper drainage. As a result, roads are often flooded and impassable. Mudslides and collapsing buildings are common during this period. It is recommended to become familiar with the areas at risk and to ride in a sports utility vehicle (4x4).

In addition, global warming causes a rise in water levels; the ocean slowly invaded one of the largest slums in the capital, West Point, causing massive population displacement. This situation is likely to trigger diseases such as Rift Valley fever, cholera, and malaria. Global warming induces severe droughts and less regular rainfall that can lead to reduced crop yields and an increase in food prices.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

All Liberian airlines are prohibited from operating in European Union airspace due to poor safety and security standards.

Roberts International Airport is 60 km (35 mi) from the capital Monrovia and is not served by public transportation. It is necessary to organize transportation to your place of residence prior to departure.

Several international companies provide air links to Europe and other African capitals. There are no domestic flights. Disease control measures have been applied flights from Freetown because of the recent Ebola outbreak.

The country suffers - with the exception of Monrovia, Buchanan, Bo Waterside, and Ganta - from unreliable, inadequate, and degraded road infrastructure. During the rainy season (May to November) roads are generally unreliable, especially the unpaved roads that make up most of the road network in Liberia.

The danger of road accidents is high due to a general non-observance of traffic laws, the poor maintenance of vehicles, and the lack of medical care facilities. Due to the lack of public lighting, all night travel should be avoided. This also applies for Monrovia, where some neighborhoods must be avoided (West Point, Somalia Drive, Red Light). All accidents resulting in casualties can provoke the angry of locals and have the potential to escalate into violence. In case of an accident, travelers should not leave the vehicle and go immediately to the nearest police station.

In Monrovia and rest of the country, due to the risk of theft in traffic, it is recommended to ensure that the vehicle doors are locked and the windows rolled up.

Western authorities formally advise against all travel by public transport. It is recommended to use an experienced private driver during a stay in Liberia.

Outside major cities, all travels must be done during the day, with an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), possibly in convoy, equipped with adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. Travelers should also ensure that the vehicle contains mechanical spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and that they have effective means of telecommunication.

Roadblocks run by police are present outside the capital. It is advised to comply with any roadblocks erected by the security forces.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Power generation capacity is weak in Liberia (22 MW), and distribution networks are highly defective. Across the country, only 9.8 percent of the population has access to electricity. Even in the capital, power supply is not guaranteed.

Access to drinking water remains incomplete across the country. In the capital itself, there is no regular supply of water.

Telecommunication networks are poor in Monrovia and non-existent outside the capital.

Travelers should note that accommodation infrastructures remains largely deficient; few hotels can be considered completely safe, including those in Monrovia.

Finally, the use of credit cards is not accepted in Liberia. Some ATMs are present but take only VISA credit cards.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Liberia's climate is equatorial and temperatures are regularly high (varying between 22°C and 33°C). Conditions are very wet and humid along the coast but drier as you head inland.

The dry season lasts from November until March but even during this period skies are often overcast and hazy. The Harmattan, a hot and dry wind from the Sahara, lowers humidity levels when it blows through the country. The rainy season begins in April and brings torrential rains between May and the end of October, with a period of respite in August. High temperatures combined with high levels of humidity often make conditions very unpleasant. Rains are most common along the coast and less common in the east.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: 231
Police: 911 or 33 35 613
Fire Dept.: 911 or 33 35 613
Ambulance: 911 or 33 35 613

Electricity

Voltage: 120 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019