The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Liberia have launched a secondary wood processing project to support private sector development and enhance job creation in Liberia.
The project, which is worth US$1.2 million, is being funded by the Governments of Japan, Austria and Liberia.
The secondary wood processing project is aimed at stimulating small and medium enterprises (SME) growth by secondarily processing wood products in order to facilitate jobs and wealth creation in the country.
Speaking at the launching ceremony recently, AfDB Country Manager, Dr. Orison Amu, said as a rich natural resource country, Liberia stands a better chance to benefit from economic insights for industrialization.
According to Dr. Amu, opportunities for increasing the contribution of the forestry sector for development in Liberia would be the availability of abundant raw material resources for sustainable harvesting that will lead to the establishment of modern factories.
Dr. Amu said since the establishment of the African Development Bank, Liberia has benefited from about 51 of its funded projects worth US$ 503.34 million.
He added that “none of these projects had links with the development of the forest industry and now Liberia needs more investments in the development of its forest.”
For his part, the AfDB’s Forestry Consultant, Dr. Julius Chupezi Tieguhong, said despite the huge wood raw material 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.
Dr. Tieguhong said the Secondary Wood Processing Project will provide evidence-based data on the development of carpentry and furniture-making that will identify key success factors and lessons learned on the project in the country.
He said the expected outcomes of the project will be to organize producers and traders of secondary processed wood products, improve access to start-up capital, and establish links between the Forestry Development Authority and the private sector.
Dr. Tieguhong added that the project is also expected to improve wood processing by SMEs for job creation, poverty reduction, quality wood products, and markets at the national level.
The project is well-aligned with FAPA’s core mandate of supporting private-sector development in Africa, which is a key strategic priority of the African Development Bank.
The Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (PAPA) is a multi-donor trust fund that provides grant funding for technical assistance activities to public and private sector entities domiciled in Africa.