Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the diaspora. Much of Liberia’s communications infrastructure was destroyed or plundered during two recent civil wars (1989–1996 and 1999–2003). Liberia’s commercial internet sector is still behind the majority of African countries.
The Internet penetration rate was 8.4% in 2017. Less than 0.05% of the population had access to fixed broadband in 2012, and there were only 3.4 IP addresses per 1000 people.
The fixed-line market is effectively under a monopoly of the incumbent operator, Libtelco (Liberia Telecommunications Corporation), although open competition is legally possible since 2007. Libtelco is currently using its existing ownership over cable conducts in the Monrovia area to construct a fiber-optic communications network that will connect to the cable system. The limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital, Monrovia. Mobile coverage reaches a number of other towns and rural areas by four mobile-cellular network operators. The Liberia Telecommunications Authority is the official agency dedicated to regulating the telecommunications market in Liberia.
Liberia is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. The government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration.
The country achieved high growth during the period 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, the economy declined and many foreign-owned businesses departed with their capital and expertise. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic coincided with decreased economic activity reducing government revenue, although higher donor support significantly offset this loss. During the same period, global commodities prices for key exports fell and have yet to recover to pre-Ebola levels.
In 2017, gold is expected to be a key driver of growth, as a new mining project begins its first full year of production, and iron ore exports are also expected to improve. The completion of the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Dam in 2017 will increase electricity production to support ongoing and future economic activity, although electricity tariffs remain high relative to other countries in the region and transmission infrastructure is limited. Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security
The Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco) is a telecommunications company providing services in Liberia. Headquartered in Monrovia, the company provides telephone, Internet, fax and radio services to the Greater Monrovia area. Prior to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 2007, Libtelco possessed a legal monopoly over the country’s fixed line services, and today remains the sole company licensed by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority to provide fixed line telephone services.
* None as of October 2017