Liberia launches electronic billboard to bare state finances to public

Liberia's government is exposing its spending to the men and women on a bustling street in its capital with a new electronic information billboard.

The U.S.-supported project in Monrovia aims to improve state transparency — and the government of Nobel laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wants passers-by who might not normally read newspapers or surf the Internet to see what government projects are under way and how state funds are being spent.

Hundreds turned out Wednesday as the Harvard-educated president switched on the billboard — connected directly to the Finance Ministry's database — for the first time.

Sirleaf took office in 2005, ushering in a new era in Liberia after back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003 killed an estimated 250,000 people, displaced millions and devastated the economy.