3 weeks ago
Friday, 12 June 2009
The World Bank, CIA and IMF all use different tools to tabulate numbers. But, all stats put Liberia's GDP in the ball park of $500. (Canada's, for comparison, weighs in around $ 35 000.)
So, it feels exceptionally nuts when so much in this country costs ludicrous amounts of money. Nothing exemplifies this better than the relatively new RLJ Kendeja Resort and Villas.
Created to host the high profile guests for the Women's Colloquium in March, the resort recently had a more official opening. Typical fanfare of the "we are so excited by this opportunity" and "its just great for Liberia to have foreign investment" variety ensued from all sides.
But no one seems particularly concerned about the fact that nightly costs for a room start at around half of the per capita GDP in the country: $250. Dinner with drinks can easily match monthly incomes. Or the fact that the resort itself is on a less than pristine stretch of beach in city with no electrical grid, functional sewage system or amenities.
As far as bringing the country money, proceeds will primarily flow back to American millionaire Robert Johnson (no, not the 'Delta Blues' one), and pay the salaries of internationals who run the hotel. Which doesn't really generate a ton of money for Liberia.
Maybe it will expose Liberia to people who never would never otherwise see it. Maybe it will pay all its service staff really good salaries. Maybe, if it actually makes money, it will undertake some development work in the community around it.
Nonetheless, in a country with a handful of the super wealthy, and the majority living on less than $ 2/day, it doesn't seem a very helpful contribution to keep catering to the former.
I know, I know: 'That's just the way it works, buddy'; 'Jesus said there will always be poor people';'money makes the world go 'round'. All that jazz. Still, I'm just sayin...
(Note: Wikipedia's lists of GDP per capita is here. If you're into that sorta thang)