Samuel Kofi Woods

Minister of Public Works
Liberian Cabinet
Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Critical Tasks
Civil service corruption
Graeme Blair
Country of Reform
Date of Interview
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
In this interview, Samuel Kofi Woods describes his experiences with institutional reform in Liberia, detailing his work for the country first as a youthful activist and later a government employee. Drawing upon his time as labor minister, Woods describes the measures he took to improve accountability and transparency within the ministry, emphasizing the need to lead by example and hold true to principles of equality and fairness. Speaking of the day-to-day running of the ministry, Woods delves into the measures taken to address its human resource capacity. Among other things, he outlines the ‘emergency employment program’ and ‘merit-based recruitment policies’ that were instituted. Woods also elaborates on the tasks he undertook upon his appointment as Minister of Public Works, providing insight into reform strategies and citing actions he took to deal with deep-rooted issues such as corruption and patronage. He suggests that for reform to be sustainable, it is the capacity of institutions that needs to be strengthened, and not just that of individuals. He recognizes, however, that for a reform effort to be successful, support from both high-level government officials and the general populace is crucial. Woods concludes by noting that there will always be challenges faced by those seeking reform, but to be successful, one must learn to adapt to the problems faced and not lose heart. 

Full Interview

74 MB
Samuel Woods - Full Interview

At the time of this interview, Samuel Kofi Woods was the Liberian Minister of Public Works, having been appointed to the position in 2009. A youth activist since the age of 11, Woods went on to become a well-known champion of human rights, receiving the Reebok’s Human Rights Award in 1994 and the Benerementi Medal in 1999. Woods established the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church in Liberia in November 1991, and played a leading role in documenting and publicizing human rights abuses during the 1989-1997 civil war. His efforts in this regard included the creation of the Forefront Organization in 1994, an international advocacy and support network. Woods also set up the Foundation for International Liberty, an international non-governmental human rights organization with offices in Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 2006, Woods became the Minister of Labor under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He held this position until his appointment to the Ministry of Public Works in 2009. 

capacity building
Consensus Building
Donor Relations
merit-based recruitment
performance management
post-conflict governance
Not specified