Liberians are generally warm people with a rich culture. Liberia’s artistic traditions are strong, but this is especially true in the country’s interior. The country’s capital, Monrovia, generally reflects a more Western culture.
Below please find basic information about the social landscape of Liberia as you consider investing. The information contained here is intended for investors and foreign workers alike.
Government Working Hours: 8am-5pm
January 1 –New Year’s Day
February 11 –Armed Forces Day
Second Wednesday of March – Decoration Day
March 15 – President J.J. Roberts’ Birthday
Second Friday of April –Fast and Prayer Day
May 14 –National Unification Day
July 26 –Independence Day
August 24 –Flag Day
First Thursday of November –Thanksgiving
November 29 – President William V.S. Tubman’s Birthday
December 25 –Christmas
Liberia currently does not have a highly networked public transportation system. Therefore, getting around Liberia will likely require the use of a rented vehicle. Taxis and private cars are available for hire for at least US $10.00 per hour.
Domestic air transport is an effective conveyance means for travelers wanting to get to regions that are impassable by cars during the rainy season. Presently, Liberty Aviation is the only company providing domestic air transport services. The flights are currently chartered for approximately per flight at US $2,000 by helicopter or plane. James Spriggs Payne Airport in Sinkor is an important domestic airport. Sea transport is generally used to transport cargo, however some boats carry passengers.
Several cell phone companies, such as Orange Liberia, Lonestar MTN Communications, ISPs companies provide service in Liberia. International cellular phones do not always work in Liberia. It is therefore advisable to rent or purchase a local cellular phone, sim card and scratch cards upon arrival.
Orange Liberia, Lonestar MTN Communications and Libtelco provide Internet service to subscribers via mobile phones and modems.
Liberia’s financial system is comprised of nine commercial banks with 87 branches spread across 10 of the 15 counties; 11 rural community finance institutions (similar to community banks owned by residents of the community) operating in nine of the fifteen counties, including those counties that do not have banking services; 20 insurance companies with 31 branches located mainly in the economic viable areas; 16 microfinance institutions; one deposit-taking microfinance institution; one credit institution; 120 foreign exchange bureaus; four regional credit unions; and two mobile network service providers (mobile money). All of these institutions are under the ambit of the Central Bank of Liberia, the regulator and supervisor of the overall financial landscape.
The commercial banks operating in Liberia are as follows:
The Liberian Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI),
International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL), Ecobank Liberia
Limited (EBLL), Global Bank Liberia Limited (GBLL), United
Bank for Africa Liberia Limited (UBALL), Guaranty Trust Bank
Liberia Limited (GTBLL), AccessBank Liberia Limited (ABLL),
Afriland First Bank Liberia Limited (AFBLL) and
GN Bank Liberia Limited (GNBLL).
The international money transfer operators are required to partner with banks in the provisions of their services, which include Western Union, Money Gram, SIKA card and RIA; notwithstanding, exclusivity is not required under the legislation of Liberia.
E-Payment Solution (or the e- Card) is one of the newest financial service instruments being introduced in the Liberian financial system, though it has been operating in other economies in and outside of the region. The e-card started in Liberia in 2009 through one of the nine banks, and to date we have three banks currently providing visa cards while two others are providing proprietary cards. Even though the use of visa cards in volume by customers was_ low then, there is a growing need for visa cards amongst banks’ customers, which expedites business sales while at the same time working on the GoL’s policy to move to a cashless society in the medium term. To date, we have a total of 59 ATMs and 94 Point of Sale terminals located in key businesses in the country.
The licensing of two mobile network service providers has also increased the mobile money landscape in Liberia. Mobile Money service in Liberia is providing a number of services, including remittances, payments of goods & services, payments of civil servant salaries, social workers, teachers, etc.
As a means of enhancing access to finance, especially in the rural areas, the CBL established 11 rural community finance institutions (RCFIs) in collaboration with one of the commercial banks involved in agriculture financing. RCFIs provide financial programs for farmers to grow and develop their farm lands and improve their small businesses, amongst other opportunities.
In order to create an enabling environment for businesses under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMSEs) to have access to finance without the provision of unmovable collaterals such as real estate and hard collaterals, the CBL established a collateral registry in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation to allow creditors the opportunity to register secure interests pledged by debtors as guarantee to acquire loans/ credit. Since the introduction of the collateral registry in the Liberian financial environment, the growth in lending to the MSMEs by lending institutions has been increasing on a yearly basis.
The CBL has an active website, www.cbl.org.lr, where anyone has the opportunity to search for information on the economy, including the Bank, overview of the Liberian economy, etc.
Apartments and homes are available for rent in Liberia. The price, size and style will vary according to the county and city of residence. When considering a place of residence in Liberia, one should consider signing a comprehensive lease agreement, security and electricity.
Although restaurants serving various cuisines from around the world can be found in Monrovia, traditional Liberian dishes are, of course, more readily available:
Cassava Leaf & Rice: Sauce made from the leaf of cassava, served with palm oil and various meats and rice
Dry Rice & Fish: Rice mixed with Liberian vegetables and served with fried fish
Fufu: Pounded cassava, yam, plantain, usually accompanies traditional soups
Pepper Soup: Soup with Liberian vegetables and pepper
Palm Oil: Oil from the palm nuts, cooked in most Liberian dishes
Abu Jaoudi UN Drive
ERA 16th Street
Exclusive Supermarket 19th Street
Exclusive Supermarket Carey & Center Street
Greenland Tubman Boulevard
Monoprix Benson Street
Stop ‘N’ Shop Randall Street
Stop ‘N’ Shop 17th Street
UN Drive Supermarket 15th & 16th Streets
Housseini’s Mini Mart Mamba Point, Old CID Road
Liberia is divided into 15 counties. The counties are subdivided into districts, which are subdivided into clans. Superintendents appointed by the President administer these counties. Below is the Map and list of counties along with their provincial capital cities.
Major Ethnic Groups of Liberia
Below constitute major tribal groups inhabiting Liberia.
The population includes 16 indigenous ethnic groups and various foreign minorities. Indigenous people comprise about 95% of the population, the largest of which are Kpelle in central and western Liberia. Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of African-American settlers, make up 2.5%, and Congo people, descendants of repatriated Congo and Afro-Caribbean slaves who arrived in 1825, make up an estimated 2.5%. There is also a sizable number of Lebanese, Indians, and other West African nationals who make up significant part of Liberia’s business community.
The largest hospital is the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Center in Monrovia. There are smaller other hospitals and clinics throughout Liberia, such as SDA Cooper Hospital in Monrovia, the Firestone Hospital in Harbel and the newly constructed Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita. For additional information on the medical services available in Liberia, please contact the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.