While Liberia’s economic growth has been one of Africa’s many success stories over the last decade, its recent progress has been overshadowed by the devastation of the Ebola epidemic. The disease hit the West African country hardest, killing more than 4,000 people and ravaging communities nationwide.

Having been part of the fabric of Liberia since its operations first began in 1949, the Coca-Cola system remains as committed as ever to supporting long-term sustainable development, progress and now recovery of the Liberian communities it serves.

Senior Coca-Cola leaders hosted a government delegation, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and civil society leaders last week at a series of events that unveiled a significant expansion of Coca-Cola’s commitment to expanding its own operations and the community initiatives it supports. Along with the introduction of a new $5 million PET bottling line in the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company’s plant in Monrovia, Coca-Cola Executive Vice President Alex Cummings launched a series of community programs funded by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. These include a new science and technology school which will provide education to more than 300 students that was handed to the Ministry of Education and five Water Health Centers that will provide safe water access to more than 51,000 Liberians.

Alex Cummings escorts President Sirleaf into the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company plant in Monrovia.

“Liberia may have been fractured by the tragedy of Ebola over the last year but its spirit will never be broken,” Cummings said. “Supporting progress through both economic investment and social programs is part of our commitment to help grow our business and the communities we serve.”

Liberia’s first Coca-Cola PET bottling line will create more than 7,500 new indirect employment opportunities over the next five years throughout Coca-Cola’s locally sourced supply chain of distributors, retailers and material suppliers. The new capabilities also will expand Coca-Cola’s beverage portfolio to include more convenient plastic bottles for Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and water, and will serve as a regional expert hub for neighboring countries Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry.

“By creating new direct employment opportunities within our operations and providing access to advanced education facilities and safe water, we hope to transform the opportunities available for current and future generations of Liberians,” said Alfonso Libano, chairman, Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Company.