Liberia’s coastline and continental shelf offers 20,000 sq km of fishing ground. Only around 8,000 tons of marine fish are currently produced per year. Yet Liberia consumes 23,800 tons. Consequently, there is a large potential to increase production. The government is investing in fish landing, storage and processing infrastructure and is streamlining investment regulations in the sector. With the impending completion of large energy infrastructure projects, it will be soon cheaper to process fish in Liberia than in Nigeria, Senegal or Côte d’Ivoire. In addition, with the completion of major road projects, such as the road from Monrovia to Nimba on the Guinean border, there is the potential to supply fish to the water-scarce areas of West Africa, such as eastern Guinea.
Liberia has an abundance of renewable water sources providing yearlong water availability. It boasts 200 billion cubic meters of renewable internal water resources, compared to 77 billion in Côte d’Ivoire, 60 billion in Mali, 45 billion in South Africa, 30 billion in Ghana and just 21 billion in Kenya. Also, Liberia boasts an optimal water temperature for aquaculture (27 degrees). Liberia has the potential to produce at least 330,000 tons of inland fish; significantly more than the current production — which is all done at the smallholder level of just 2,500 tons.
The domestic market is unsaturated, particularly up-country where fish consumption per person is low due to limited access and the high cost of imported fi sh. As a result of limited availability, the average Liberian only consumes 5 kg per year compared to an ECOWAS average of 10kg per year, 30 kg per year in Sierra Leone and 20kg per year in Ghana. With investment in local production and distribution, consumption per person can easily quadruple. This provides a large, untapped business opportunity — particularly as there is currently no competition. It is a new, untapped market. There is great potential to also supply regions with limited access to the coast or with rapid population growth. Guinea, Mali and Nigeria all register consumption levels below the ECOWAS average, giving scope for export growth to these neighboring markets.