World Bank Commits to Boosting Liberia’s Digital Economy

The World Bank, led by newly appointed Country Manager Georgia Wallen, has made a commitment to strengthen Liberia’s digital economy, marking a significant step towards advancing the country’s digital transformation initiatives. This announcement came during the Liberia Country Diagnostic workshop on Tuesday.

Wallen emphasized the profound impact that digitalization can have on Liberia’s development, highlighting how digital technologies are revolutionizing various aspects of people’s lives, work, and interactions. She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this transformation, leading to increased technology adoption across sectors such as education, health, and finance.

According to Wallen, digitalization is no longer a luxury but a necessity for economic growth, social development, and global competitiveness in today’s interconnected world. She pointed out that the digital economy has grown rapidly over the past decade and now accounts for more than 15% of the global GDP.

The Liberian government has been working towards transitioning into a knowledge-based economy while promoting enhanced social development for all. Minister of Post and Telecommunications Worlea-Saywah Dunah revealed that the government is collaborating with stakeholders and development partners to develop a five-year national development digital transformation agenda that meets international ICT standards.

Despite progress in digital connectivity, Liberia still has low internet usage, with only 8% of the population reported using the internet in 2018, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This is well below the African average of 22%. The World Bank also noted that digital entrepreneurship is still in its early stages in Liberia, as the country continues to establish key foundations for an enabling business environment.

In its recommendations, the World Bank called on the government to support the rapid deployment of digital infrastructure by providing additional spectrum resources, flexibility in network traffic management and quality of service rules, classifying network equipment as essential infrastructure, and expediting the approval of network installations. It also advocated for special tariffs to assist vulnerable consumers and a review of regulatory practices related to retail tariff regulation and the use of regulatory fees for domestic revenue mobilization.