Secondary Wood Processing For Wealth Creation And Employment In Liberia

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MONROVIA – The African Development Bank and the Government of Liberia has launched launched a USD 1.2 million catalytic project funded by the Governments of Japan, Austria and Liberia. Most of the financing (USD 1.0 million) is by donors to the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) – consisting of the African Development Bank, the Government of Japan and the Government of Austria.

The project aims at stimulating the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) based on secondary processing of wood products that will facilitate jobs and wealth creation in Liberia. The project is well-aligned with FAPA’s core mandate of supporting private-sector development in Africa, a key strategic priority of the African Development Bank.

The project also argues well for job creation in Africa and falls in line with the African Development Bank’s Industrialization Strategy for Africa 2016-2025. “Industrialise Africa” is one of the Bank’s High 5 development priorities, which according to the Bank’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Africa needs to create jobs and add value to products for rapid industrialization because no nation achieves industrialisation by exporting raw materials.

On his part, the Bank’s Country Manager in Liberia, Dr Orison Amu, reiterated that as a natural resource rich country, Liberia stands a better chance to benefit from these economic insights for industrialisation. For instance, the opportunities for increasing the contribution of the forestry sector to development in Liberia include: availability of abundant raw material resources with about 1,000,000 ha for sustainable harvesting and room for establishing modern processing factories. However, this will not come without sustainable investments. Since 1967, that the African Development Bank started registering operations with regional member countries, Liberia has so far enjoyed about 51 its funded projects worth some 364.74 million UA (US$ 503.34 million) or averaging 7.2 million UA (US$ 9.94 million). Indeed, none of these projects had links with the development of the forest industry suggesting that Liberia needs more investments in the development of its forest industry. The message is that sustainable forestry is not a source of capital without investments, he concludes.

According to the African Development Bank’s Forestry consultant, Dr Julius Chupezi Tieguhong, despite the huge wood raw material base in the country, Liberia suffers from a high trade deficit of US$ 5.7 million per year, associated with the importation of processed wood products. The project will provide evidence-based data on the development of carpentry and furniture SMEs) in Liberia and will identify key success factors and lessons learned on secondary wood processing in the country. The expected outcomes will include: (1) organised producers and traders of secondary processed wood products; (2) improved access to start-up capital; (3) established links between government (FDA) and private sector; (4) improve wood processing by SMEs for job creation, poverty reduction, quality wood products and markets at the national level.

The Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), is a multi-donor trust fund that provides grant funding for technical assistance activities to public and private sector entities domiciled in Africa. Since its launch in 2006, FAPA has received donor contributions exceeding $85 million and helped finance over 80 technical assistance projects, thereby making a significant contribution to SME development in Africa

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AFDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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