How do corporations secure natural resources (such as rubber) in a sustained way over a long period of time – knowing that most resource-rich countries are also usually prone to instability? The way corporations have traditionally done so is by signing long-term deals with the government of the country (be it a democratically elected one or not) and providing some basic services to the employees it hires (usually as little as their company’s Corporate Responsibility allows) – Firestone style. This old model is attractive because it is financially viable.
Odd statistic that gets cited a lot: the rate of unemployment is said to hover around 80-85%. I couldn’t find the sources of the figure, but 80% seems hard to swallow. In this town, if you don’t work to scrap some living, there are few safety nets to fall back on – you will go hungry. The rate of formal employment is definitely low (around 15-20%) and that of underemployment definitely high – but until the census data (collected in 2009) is made public (ehem, LISGIS?), the numbers remain speculative.
Meanwhile, Monrovia bustles with a sense of optimistic chaos created by all the micro-businesses that line up the narrow bumpy streets – some with colorful, self-aggrandizing banners. Never a dull moment walking through this city!
“Liberia is the only country in the world to have gained its independence not from a colonial power, but from an NGO. Imagine the implications this has in terms of statebuilding?”
Hon. Amara Konneh, Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs
After claiming independence from the American Colonization Society in 1847, it sometimes seems that modern Liberia is battling to re-claim its independence from being an “NGO Republic”.
During the war’s 14 years, in the absence of a strong legitimate central government to report to, international NGOs were the ones calling the shots; their emergency relief services much needed by a population fleeing their burning villages and pillaged homes. Continue reading →
For the electricity cuts and the walks back home after sunset.
It gets pitch dark around 7:30 pm. A combination of lack of public electricity on the roads (less than 30% of Monrovia, home to 1.1 million, has access to electricity) and the heavy clouds of the rainy season (starless sky!)