Parceling out prosperity? An impact evaluation of natural resource sector investments in Liberia

  • Governments in West Africa increasingly require foreign investors to build and maintain public infrastructure in exchange for rights to extract natural resources on their land.
  • Liberia has adopted this strategy to fill an infrastructure gap after the civil war and build ‘spatial development corridors’ alongside concessionaire-sponsored infrastructure.
  • This brief evaluates the implementation of this strategy in Liberia from 2006 to 2012, and found that mining – particularly iron ore – and Chinese-backed concessions increased economic growth within 25 km of concession areas, whereas agriculture, forestry, and US-backed concessions did not.
  • These findings have significant implications for how government institutions with policymaking and M&E responsibilities, such as the Natural Bureau of Concessions (NBC) and Liberia Land Authority (LLA), should track the performance of concessionaires.
  • Going forward, the Government of Liberia (GoL) should continue to require that investors meet public good requirements but also make greater use of innovative monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools to monitor the activities and impacts of concessionaires.