ArcelorMital’s $1.7 B Investment Boosts Liberia’s Development -Inspires Job Creation, Employment and Technology Transfer
MONROVIA: Sub-Saharan Africa, which has a population of 1 billion people, half of whom the World Bank projects will be under 25-year-old by 2050, is a diverse region that offers human and natural resources with the potential to yield inclusive growth and eradicate poverty in the region.
Liberia, a nation deeply sickened by years of war and instability, has had her fair share of the regional inability to create an entirely new development path, by harnessing the potential of its resources and people.
The country is composed of low and high-income earners, with the bulk of its small 5.2 million population which holds limited human capital, and poor infrastructure.
Heavily reliant on the export of rubber and iron ore whose global prices have repeatedly fallen in decline over the last decade, job creation remains a challenge nationally.
But since the end of the war, ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML), one of the largest steel manufacturing firms in the world, found the West African nation of Liberia as an ideal investment designation.
Since 2005, AML has invested more than $1.7 billion in its mining and logistics operations in Liberia which are heavily centered in three counties- Grand Bassa, Bong, and Nimba.
AML’s investment has seen the rehabilitation of the old LAMCO concession area in Buchanan, and Yekepa as well as the reconstruction of the railway that connects the seaport of Buchanan to the mines in the north.
Key benefits of this ideal foreign direct investment have over the years included Economic Growth with, for example, a GDP growth rate of 11.2% in 2011.
During the 12 years of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s presidency, investments like ArcelorMittal helped Liberia’s per capita income grow from $80 million to $700 million, life expectancy increased by eight years, and the population grew by nearly 50% to just under five million people.
We cannot deny the fact that though not ArcelorMittal alone, this higher economic growth if not badly disrupted by Ebola and the global COVID-19 pandemic could have potentially led to opening new markets, as seen in many emerging economies that are achieving higher standards of living resulting for jobs and income.
What ArcelorMittal’s sustained investment has equally done is to help improve Job Creation and Employment. Unarguably, AML’s business model is designed to create jobs for Liberians and help support new businesses in her host country which has for years translated to a major source of employment and higher wages.
Today, its phase two expansion alone has created more than 3000 jobs through the hiring of senior, middle, and low-level Liberian technicians for the construction phase of the project, which is heavily concentrated in Yekepa, and Buchanan. The second phase two expansion will have a significant impact on increasing our national budget, speeding up progress, and providing possibilities for Liberia’s unemployed youth to earn a living.
About 95% of all positions at the AML are occupied by Liberians. Technology Transfer has been of clear strategic benefit for the over 1.7 billion the company has invested in Liberia.
At its mines and technical operational areas, AML has introduced world-class technologies and technical expertise to Liberian staff.
In Nimba, a modern high-technology ore concentrator is under construction.
The facility will be producing a high-grade concentrate, which requires approximately 25 million tons annually of raw ore to produce 15 million tons of concentrated product.
Under its technical and vocational training effort and realizing that the country needs more young people to be employed in critical technical positions, AML 2017 launched a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Yekepa.
With an investment of $7m in the school, the school is run by foreign technicians from different parts of the world, who provide young people with globally recognized and certified apprenticeship training for roles such as diesel mechanics, electricians, mechanical fitters, boilermakers, welders, and instrumentation technicians, it is one of a kind in the country.
Since its investment in Liberia, ArcelorMittal has done more to alleviate the country’s unemployment crisis than any other concession company. The company has funded countless young Liberians’ pursuit of higher education both at home and abroad, and has donated to the country’s healthcare system and other critical areas where the government has struggled to fund.
AML’s phase two expansion will also lead to growth in the government’s budget. The over two thousand new employees the company will hire will be required to pay income taxes to the government of Liberia. This will, inadvertently, contribute to an increase in domestic revenue and a growth in the size of our national budget. When more of our residents have jobs with good pay, this will also lead to an increase in the amount of money they save in commercial banks. Also, in order to be able to deliver the most convenient services possible to its customers located all over the country, commercial banks will need to increase their current staff as well as hire additional people overall. These increased jobs in the banking sector will contribute not just to an increase in income taxes but also, of course, to an increase in the national budget.