Sierra Leone under APC and SLPP
30 December 2011
According to Transparency
International "corruption is the abuse of entrusted
power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose
life, livelihood or happiness depends on the
integrity of people in a position of authority."
The poorest countries like Sierra
Leone suffer most under the yoke of corruption.
In Sierra Leone, despite some
gains, "corruption remains an enormous drain on
resources sorely needed for education, health,
infrastructure" social and economic development. As
a result of this, the "correlation between poverty
and corruption continues to be evident." To my mind,
corruption is a human right violation.
Since gaining independence Sierra
Leoneans have suffered economic and social hardship
emanating from corruption and abuse of power by
public officials. Section 5 of the Sierra Leone
Constitution of 1991 stipulates that the State shall
take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices
and the abuse of power. The State therefore runs
afoul the constitution when it takes insufficient or
no steps to fight corruption.
The state of corruption under
Ernest koroma and Tejan Kabba does not show much
difference. However, there is a difference between
the two when it comes to fighting corruption. Under
Kabba’s government the Anti-corruption Commission
came into being. His government, however, did not
take sufficient steps to curb corruption as state
interference into the work of the ACC was enormous.
This hindered the smooth
functioning of the Commission. Val Collier was the
first ever ACC boss. Val Collier did not do much to
go after corrupt big bugs in Sierra Leone. He spent
his tenure of office indicting and prosecuting small
Let us call a spade: when Ernest
Bai Koroma’s government came to power the ACC
regained its desired teeth. Ernest Bai Koroma
appointed the young and dynamic Abdul Tejan-Cole as
Commissioner of the ACC. EBK must be commended for
giving more powers to the ACC to make it more
independent and vibrant. The new ACC boss showed
that he was a "man made of sterner stuff".
Tejan-Cole’s decision to prosecute
Francis Gabbidon, the former Sierra Leone's
Ombudsman, came as a shock to many people. Moreover,
his decision to arrest a High Court Judge, Allan
Halloway was a bold step.
What really came as rude surprise
was his decision to go after corrupt businessmen in
this country. This was a novelty in the history of
the fight against graft in the Private Sector.
We have to give praises where they
are due. It is during Ernest Koroma’s regime that we
have witnessed ministers and highly-placed persons
in Sierra Leone being dragged to court for corrupt
practices. The mayor of Freetown, former ministers
of Health and Energy and Mineral Resources are such
people who were sacked by the president for alleged
However, EBK’s fight against
corruption is not without hiccups. There are still
very corrupt public officials who are untouchable;
who indulge in corrupt practices with impunity. The
state interference into the work of the ACC is
minimal but the effect of this untoward practice on
the socio-economic lives of the people of Sierra
Leone is unacceptable.
The president should therefore
take tougher steps to curb corruption if his Agenda
for Change is to achieve meaningful results.
On 16 December 2011 Salone Radio Amsterdam discussed
the state of corruption in Sierra Leone. If you
missed the programme, please go to this link and
listen to it:
Please join us today at 20.30(CET), 19.30(Salone
time) to continue the discussion on corruption:
Sylvester R. Folounsho MacCormack
Mr. Sylvester R. Folounsho MacCormack, who
is the older brother of Cecil Bunting
MacCormack (Bunny Mack), passed away
yesterday – 27 December 2011, at 17.40
Eastern Time (10.40pm - GMT) in Maryland
USA. He was 71 years
He is survived by his wife Mrs. Nancy
MacCormack, brothers and sisters; Ade,
Bunting, Jemima, Tunji and Aki; his
children: Radcliffe, Daphnie, Bernard,
Brenda, Marcella, Shola and Denise; and
several relatives in Sierra Leone and
Funeral arrangements will be announced
World Bank to invest $26 million to improve delivery
of vital local services in Sierra Leone
21 December 2011
Since the enactment of the 2004 Local Government
Act, which devolves power to Local Councils in
Sierra Leone, for the delivery of basic services
such as education, health, water supply and solid
waste management, successive governments in Freetown
have failed woefully to provide the human as well as
financial resources needed for decentralisation to
With rising poverty and continuing pressure
on government’s finances and priorities, the
delivery of local services has faced huge
Education standards have fallen in the last
three years; the government’s free health
care programme faces huge challenges in the
provincial towns and cities; and most
communities are without clean, safe drinking
government priority focuses largely on improving the
country’s dilapidated infrastructure, costing
hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Executive Board of the World Bank yesterday
approved US$26 million to help the Government of
Sierra Leone scale up its decentralized delivery of
basic services, across 19 Local Councils in the
Major steps have already been taken to improve the
decentralization programme, including; establishing
a transparent, fair system of transferring funds to
Local Councils; holding of regular elections;
devolving functions closer to the people; and
innovative ways of helping them hold service
"Sierra Leone has come a long way since the
enactment of the Local Government Act in 2004, and
has a wealth of experience to offer other
post-conflict countries," said World Bank Country
Manager Vijay Pillai.
"With continued political will and due
diligence by Local Councils, we expect that
decentralized delivery of basic services
will lead to further gains such as improved
access to basic health services and safe
drinking water in rural areas."
This new funding of $26 Million is part of
the Second Phase Decentralized Service
Delivery Program (DSDP-2), which aims to
build on what has already been achieved
under the DSDP phase 1.
will enable Local Councils to improve the delivery
and results in basic health, education, water supply
and solid waste management across all 19 Local
Councils in the country.
The European Union will provide a further US$6
million in co-financing, bringing the total funding
for DSDP-2 to $32 million. The program’s second
phase will run until December 2015 and will provide
direct financing of the following activities:
- US$24.3 million funding for local councils to
complement fiscal transfers from GoSL budgetary
- US$3 million to develop capacity and provide
technical assistance to local councils and
ministries, departments and agencies, which will
help carry out their core functions and provide
guidance and oversight
- US$4.1 million to support results and social
accountability. This will empower local communities
to hold their service providers accountable, with
the aim of enhancing the quality of service delivery
- US$1.2 million to support project implementation,
financial management and coordination functions.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development,
Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development and
all 19 Local Councils will implement the program, by
working in partnership.
China steps up its investment in Sierra Leone
When president Koroma
announced early this year that 2011 is the year of
project implementation for his government, many
questioned what the government had been doing since
it came to power in 2007. But looking at the
plethora of infrastructure projects, especially road
rehabilitation and construction, it is easy to see
why the government is describing the capital –
Freetown, as a "works yard".
There are several yet
to be completed road construction projects, which
critics say would need additional funding to be
completed. The government has been told by the IMF
that it had exceeded its borrowing ceiling in 2010
and must now seek to finance its capital spending
programme through taxation.
bilateral investment is now more than ever crucial
for president Koroma to be able to achieve some of
his infrastructural ambitions, before the general
elections taking place next year. The Chinese
government has decided to increase its investment in
Koroma meets local leaders
report from Freetown says that the
historically neglected mountain and
peninsular villages of Regent, Bathurst,
Charlotte, and Grafton will soon have
spanking new roads and continuous supply of
estimated 180 Million Chinese Yen (US$30M),
the road construction project is said to be
the largest to be undertaken by the Chinese
Government in Sierra Leone. The entire
project will be completed in 2014.
Both president Koroma
and the Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone - Kuang
Weilin, took part in a 'sod turning' ceremony,
marking the official start of the peninsular –
mountain villages project.
Speaking at the
ceremony, president Koroma said that this project is
part of his 'Agenda for Change', which encompasses
his government’s policy on energy, road and
infrastructural development, agriculture, health and
education, as well as promoting good governance and
attracting foreign investors to the country.
He said that in just
four years, his government has been able to increase
the supply of electricity in the country from a mere
5 Mega watts in 2007. Presenting his government’s
performance record, he said that; "We are not a
government of workshops and consultancies, and ours
is a government of tangible and visible
"Now that we are
implementing projects, they are lamenting that they
had the intention. But we’re a government of action
not intentions," referring to the opposition’s
continuous jibe that the government is simply
delivering projects they had planned and funding
secured, prior to leaving office in 2007. "We are
now providing leadership, courage and focus, and
nothing will distract us from actualizing the Agenda
for Change." He told his audience.
Veteran - S.A.J. Pratt welcomes Chinese
Koroma praised what he described as the
vision of past APC leaders - Siaka Steven,
S.A.J. Pratt, whom he said "had the
foresight to develop Sierra Leone".
As has become
traditional at such ceremonies, the
president once again promised to personally
monitor and make unannounced visits to the
two projects, as they were not far away from
his Hill Station Presidential Lodge.
But critics say that
one of the reasons for the unacceptable poor
delivery of government projects is the absence of
practical leadership and lack of supervision. They
point to the badly managed Free Health Care
Programme, which president Koroma had personally
promised to supervise in 2010. Several road
construction projects are suffering as the result of
cost and time over-runs.
Critics also say that
the highly expensive Bumbuna hydro-electricity
project has failed to achieve its objectives,
producing less than half of its planned capacity,
despite costing in excess of $200 Million.
Ambassador - Kuang Weilin called on their
Chinese contractors - China Railway Seventh
Group (CRSG), who are also said to be
responsible for other high profile road
rehabilitation projects – such as the
notoriously delayed Wilkinson Road, "to do
the job with China speed, quality and
He said that
China will be funding more infrastructural
development projects in Sierra Leone.
the ACC losing its case against the Mayor before the
start of hearing?
seriousness and gravity of the charges read
out in Court against the Mayor of Freetown –
Herbert Williams and his co-accused last
week, are such that all eyes are now on the
Anti-Corruption Commission, to ensure that
the case against the accused is water-tight,
and that they have done their homework well
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has a
serious reputation of losing high profile
cases in Court, and does need to improve its
effectiveness and success rate.
But there was
drama at the High Court in Freetown
yesterday, Wednesday 14 December, 2011, when
Lawyers acting for the defendants, expressed
alarm at the prosecution’s decision to
present an amended charge sheet to the
They were also
incensed that the lead prosecuting lawyer – no other
than the Anti-Corruption Commission Czar himself -
Joseph F. Kamara, had only served the defending
lawyers with a 250 page report, which contains
witness statements, less than twenty-four hours
prior to Court sitting.
amendment to the charge sheet is crucial, and of
material substance to the case.
When the accused
appeared in Court last week, both Mayor Herbert
George Williams and Bowenson Fredrick Philips -
Chief Administrator of the Council were charged on
count 4, along with Sylvester Momoh Konnehi and
Arthur Kwesi-John, for failing to pay Social
Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) contribution,
contrary to section 48 (1) (d) of the NASSIT Act.
The particulars of
count 4 state that sometime between July 1, 2010 and
October 31, 2010, the accused unlawfully failed to
pay NASSIT contribution for and on behalf the staff
of the Council amounting to Le76,123,246.20.
Prosecutor - ACC Boss Joseph Kamara
the changes to the Court yesterday, ACC
Commissioner said that he had decided to
make the following alterations:
date of offence relating to count 4 was
backdated from 31 October 2010 to a much
earlier date of 30 September 2010.
unpaid NASSIT contribution cited under count
4, was also increased from Le76,123,246.20
to a hefty Le106,627,182.00.
much of the legal arguments in court yesterday were
centred on the points of law raised by lawyers
acting for the defence, contending that their
clients had not been given sufficient time to study,
prepare and present counter-arguments with respect
to the witnesses’ evidence contained in the 250
pages prosecution’s report.
The beleaguered Mayor
of Freetown and his co-accused – including the Chief
Administrator of Freetown City Council, have been
indicted on 25 counts.
Mayor Herbert George
Williams and Bowenson Fredrick Philips - Chief
Administrator of Freetown City Council (first and
second accused), were both charged on count one with
conspiracy to commit a corruption offence contrary
to section 128 (1) of the Anti Corruption Act 2008.
It is alleged that
both accused conspired with other unknown persons to
misappropriate the sum of Le 744,450,000 sometime
between 1 July, 2010, and 31 March, 2011, with
respect to the hosting of a live concert featuring
On counts 2 and 3,
both first and second accused were also charged with
failing to pay NRA Taxes, contrary to section 48 (1)
(d) of the Anti Corruption Act, No. 12 of 2008.
According to the ACC, the accused illegally failed
to pay the sum of Le62,269,595 and Le88,565,638
respectively to the NRA, after deductions from
Williams, Bowenson Fredrick Philips, Sylvester Momoh
Konnehi, and Arthur Kwesi-John, were all charged
with counts 5, 6 and 7.
offences state that on dates unknown - between 1
January, 2010 and 31 March, 2010;1 May, 2010, 31
August, 2010; 1 October, 2010, and 31 December, 2010
respectively, the accused unlawfully failed to pay
PAYE Tax to the NRA for and on behalf of employees
of the council, in the sum of Le80,058,509;
Le110,070,553 and Le89,448,347 respectively.
On Counts 8 and 9, both Herbert Williams, Bowenson
Fredrick Philips and Desmond Thomas were charged
with misappropriation of public revenue, contrary to
section 36 (1) of the ACC Act of 2008. It is alleged
that the three accused misappropriated the sum of
Le55,589,100 with respect to monies collected from
local markets, and Le24,317,300 collected as local
On count 10, co-accused Alimamy Turay was charged
with misappropriation of public revenue, contrary to
section 36(1) of the ACC Act of 2008. It is alleged
that the accused misappropriated the sum of
Le22,470,000 collected from local market traders.
On count 11, Herbert
Williams was charged with misappropriation of public
funds contrary to the ACC Act of 2008, alleging that
he withdrew Le10 Million from the Council’s Bank
Account in Freetown, in respect of payment for the
failed Morgan Heritage concert.
On counts 12 and 14,
co-accused Aiah Brima was charged with
misappropriation of public funds contrary to the ACC
Act of 2008, involving Le9.8 million purported to be
payment of allowances to Councillors’ needs
assessment, and Le2,815,000 purported to have been
paid to participants at a strategic planning retreat
held at the Hill Valley Hotel, as daily subsistence
On count 13, Franklyn
Garber – a civil engineer employed by the Council
was accused of misappropriating the sum of
Le9,225,000 purported to be payment for
rehabilitation work done to a local market.
On count 15, Mayor Williams, Bowenson F. Philips,
and Desmond Thomas were last week charged with
misappropriation of public revenue contrary to
section 36(1) of the ACC Act of 2008, with respect
to Wharf landing fees in the sum of Le2,063,400.
On count 16, Mayor
Williams, Bowenson F. Philips and Arthur Kwesi John
were charged with misappropriation of Le4 Million
purported to be payment for light bill to NPA.
on counts 18 and 19,
Herbert Williams was solely charged with
misappropriation of US$9,000 (public funds)
purported to be payment for excess luggage for
Morgan Heritage, and US$10,000 unlawfully withdrawn
from the Council’s Bank Account in Freetown, in
respect of the Morgan Heritage concert.
On count 20, Mayor
Herbert Williams, Bowenson F. Philips and Sylvester
M. Konnehi were together charged with
misappropriation of Le79,980,000 (public funds)
purported to be payment for the relocation of
evictees from the construction site of a market and
On count 21, Mohamed
Allie Shaaban was charged with misappropriation of
public funds in the sum of Le800,000,000 contrary to
section 36(1) of the ACC Act of 2008, in respect of
the construction of a shopping centre and market at
On counts 22 and 23, both Mayor Herbert Williams and
Bowenson F. Philips were charged with
misappropriation of public funds in the sum of
Le13,442,500, in respect of payments to a Zenobean
Enterprises for the supply of swivel chairs,
Le7,640,000 for payment made to Ibrahim Kamara as
incentive for the Revenue Enforcement Team.
On count 24, Mayor Williams, Bowenson F. Philips,
Arthur Kwesi John and Sylvester M. Konnehi were all
charged with wilful failure to comply with the law
relating to the procurement of service, contrary to
section 48(2)(b) of the ACC Act of 2008.
It is alleged that
the four accused had made unlawful payments in the
sum of US$130,000 for a two day live concert staged
at national Stadium.
On count 25, Mayor
Herbert Williams was solely charged with
misappropriation of US$35,000 with respect to
payments for the staging of the Morgan Heritage
At the close of
hearing yesterday - 14 December 2011, the Kenyan
Judge agreed to adjourn proceedings, in order to
allow the defence counsels sufficient time to study
the 250 pages report submitted by the ACC Czar –
Joseph Kamara. The report contains the evidence
given by witnesses to the ACC during their
investigation of the case.
Kenyans use social media to mobilize support for
13 December 2011
With about $70m in the kitty, Kenyans show the
rest of Africa how to use social media platforms to
mobilize for a social cause. Kingsley Ighobor
reports for Africa Renewal:
Julie Gichuru is an
award-winning Kenyan television journalist rated by
Forbes business magazine in 2011 as one of "20
youngest powerful women in Africa." Ms. Gichuru has
a reputation as an engaging TV host, stirring up her
audience against corruption and sometimes poking fun
at the vagaries of life.
In July, as thousands of starving people walked
across the border from Somalia into the Dadaab
refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya, there were also
thousands of Kenyans dying of drought in that
region, as well as in Turkana, Pokot and Baringo.
Ms. Gichuru and other journalists covered that
"I went to the camp and saw children just screaming.
It was deafening. Some had just died. Some were
about to die, and I saw parents standing helplessly,
just preparing to dig another infant grave," she
told Africa Renewal.
The interventions of Ms. Gichuru and others have
been acclaimed for both the sheer effort — more than
$67 million donated so far by ordinary Kenyans and
some companies — and the tools with which the
mobilization has been carried out: Facebook,
Twitter, mobile phones, television, radio and
Reactions to the various media reports were swift
and spontaneous. The Media Owners Association,
Safaricom (one of the country’s leading mobile phone
companies) and the Kenya Red Cross continue to rally
donations and other relief materials under the aegis
of Kenyans for Kenya, an association officially
launched in late July.
"The response by Kenyans was overwhelming and
humbling, hitting KSh19 million through M-Pesa
[mobile banking] contributions on the second day,"
reports The Standard, a leading Kenyan newspaper.
Ms. Gichuru says that they collected the equivalent
of about $10 million within two weeks.
Ordinary Kenyans can make contributions of as little
as KSh10 (about 10 US cents). "Through Facebook and
Twitter we sensitized the urban affluent. Through
mobile phones we reached people in the rural areas.
And television, radio and print publications just
reinforced the message to the general population,"
says Ms Gichuru.
M-Pesa (Swahili word for "mobile money") helps those
in remote parts of the country make financial
payments, such as for electricity, water and even
normal day-to-day purchases. This is the first time
the M-Pesa service, launched by Safaricom, has been
used extensively in support of a major humanitarian
How does it work? Safaricom assigned a dedicated
account number that people with mobile phones can
easily remember (111 111). Subscribers pay into
their M-Pesa accounts, much as they do when adding
to their phone calling credits. To make a donation
they simply enter the amount and send it to the
dedicated account number.
Both the sender and the recipient promptly get SMS
messages confirming the transaction. The ease of
transactions has contributed to the project’s
The credibility of
the main implementing partner, the Kenya Red Cross,
further encourages people to donate. "Once people
knew who was going to spend the money, they felt
more comfortable to contribute," says Ms. Gichuru.
Before Kenyans for Kenya there was Ushahidi, the
platform set up — again by Kenyans — to map reports
of post-elections violence in 2007. The model was so
successful that it was replicated in Haiti and Japan
to aid relief work after earthquakes (see Africa
Renewal, April 2010).
The International Business Times reports that there
are 20 tweets a minute on the crisis in the Horn of
Africa, coming mainly from freelance fund seekers.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched the
WeFeedBack initiative to rally support for hungry
people in various parts of the world.
The WFP and YouTube collaborated to record and
promote the song "A Step for Mankind", expected to
trigger online record sales to aid the Horn of
Daudi Were, a manager for Ushahidi, cites the
increasing popularity of social media in Kenya.
First is the demographic factor. There are 20
million people between the ages of 15 and 65 in
Kenya, and about 22 million mobile phone SIM cards
are in circulation. The second factor is the way
various social media are interconnected. People use
mobile phones to tweet, send SMS messages and access
their Facebook pages.
Mr. Were insists that although social media
platforms may be considered urban tools, "African
cities have a huge influence on the rest of the
country." He maintains that "people are able to send
SMS messages to radio and TV stations from the rural
areas, even if they are unlikely to listen to the
messages when they are aired."
The 'Kenyans for Kenya' initiative marks the first
time in Africa that ordinary people have organized
in this way to save lives. In the past, donations to
causes came almost exclusively from wealthy
organizations and individuals, Ms. Gichuru notes.
But not anymore - "In our campaign, most donations
are coming from ordinary people." That response has
shamed companies into also donating.
The success of the effort shows that citizens can
organize on their own. "People don’t feel helpless,
as they have in the past," says Ms. Gichuru. "The
social media provide platforms where people discover
that there are hundreds or thousands of others
feeling as they do, and the platforms help them
agree on a course of action."
This capacity is causing ripples in government
circles. "Right now, there is concern in
government,” notes Ms. Gichuru. "It’s as if
government people are saying, 'If the people can do
this, it means we will become irrelevant at some
point'." For Mr. Were, the fact that ordinary people
are taking the initiative to organize is itself a
response to poor political leadership.
"African citizens are not waiting for leadership
from government. Already they feel a sense of
disconnect, and they want to take their destinies in
SLPP presidential candidate – Julius Maada Bio
raises his international profile
13 December 2011
Sierra Leone’s general and presidential elections
will take place in November next year, and already
both the two main parties – APC and SLPP are raising
the stakes to a level not previously witnessed in
the country’s most recent electoral history.
The unprecedented early pre-election
campaigning has already started. And the
SLPP leader - Maada Bio, is upping the ante
by raising his international profile and
Koroma's grip on power is becoming highly
uncertain, as the opposition SLPP strengthen
their bid to build on the 40% votes, they
garnered at the 2007 elections.
president's 'whiter than white' image and
zero tolerance for corruption mantra are now
in the spotlight.
Writing in the British Guardian Newspaper
yesterday, Bio delivered a scathing attack
on president Koroma’s government
mismanagement of the economy, corruption and
tendency to stifle democratic freedoms.
called upon the British government to ensure that
their investment in Sierra Leone to end the brutal
ten year war and return the country to democracy
must not go in vain. He said that; "Democracy is
under attack. All those with influence over the
government must help ensure a peaceful political
In this his first
address directed in particular at the British public
and coalition government, Bio presented himself as a
credible and trusted pair of hands into which the
helm of governance in Sierra Leone can be entrusted
by the people at the polls in 2012.
This is what he told readers of the British
"There have been many criticisms of British overseas
intervention in recent years, but one truly
altruistic engagement for which the UK can be proud
was its military intervention in Sierra Leone in
"This event, where a renewed British presence
brought stability to a nation in the throes of a
devastating civil war, allowed Sierra Leone the hope
that the cycle of power-hungry military rulers may
"The UK's intervention under Tony Blair helped to
bring about one of the key milestones for Sierra
Leone's recovery – the ending of conflict – and
allowed the return to democracy begun some years
earlier to fully take root. Now, new elections are
due in 2012. But recently things have taken a turn
for the worse.
"I am the opposition's presidential candidate for
next year's election, and in September, the national
police intervened in a rally my party was holding. I
was assaulted with stones and hospitalised.
"Many of my supporters were refused even basic
medical treatment. Following this, the police
imposed an indefinite ban on political rallies
across the country.
"The danger that a free and fair election may not
materialise this time in Sierra Leone is a tragedy
not only for the country but also for Britain, which
has invested so much in aid and support to the
country in the last 11 years.
and president Koroma
"Similarly, it is an uncomfortable
development for Blair, who ordered the
original military intervention, but who
lauded the current president, Ernest Bai
Koroma, as one of the "visionary African
leaders" tackling poverty, while members of
his political party and the police were
breaking up and banning democratic rallies.
"In Sierra Leone democracy is still fragile.
It has not yet been embedded in the national
political consciousness as the only
acceptable form of governance. Some
political leaders believe its foundations
can be removed and still it can flourish.
"As a former head of
state who in 1996 handed power over to civilian,
multiparty rule and then chose willingly not to
contest the subsequent election, I know from
experience this is not the case.
"Next year's presidential election is therefore a
crucial milestone for Sierra Leone, and for its
democracy. Not least because in 2007, when my Sierra
Leone People's party lost power to Koroma,
international observers widely commended the country
for a poll that was free and fair.
"Next year's ballot must be managed under similar
conditions because the only way to ensure peace and
development after decades of war is through
government that has gained the expressed will of the
"So what of our current president? He may be
visionary to Blair, but the experience of everyday
Sierra Leoneans tells a very different story of life
under Koroma. When he assumed office in 2007, our
country held a modest position in Transparency
International's Corruption Perceptions Index.
"Today according to the same index, Sierra Leone
ties with Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
"Last month al-Jazeera made allegations of
corruption in the heart of the vice-president's
office when it secretly filmed two people claiming
to be his advisers accepting cash payments from
undercover journalists in return for a promise he
would support an illegal timber project.
"US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks said that
in 2008 Koroma's minister for transport, Ibrahim
Kemoh Sesay, was questioned by the police for
cocaine trafficking and then released and that the
president had given direct orders for him not to be
arrested, despite public statements that those with
political connections accused of drug trafficking
would not be given protection.
"These levels of favouritism are devastating, but
they can be reversed. This must start by those
holding influence with the current administration –
such as Blair – repudiating all anti-democratic
measures and being publicly honest about Koroma's
record in government.
"The UK, which supplies 60% of the Sierra Leonean
government's budget through aid, must demand change.
"But, ultimately, the country's future must lie in
the hands of its own people. Opportunities will come
if we focus on growing our economy in a sustainable
way that benefits all. This means freeing ourselves
from the shackles of foreign aid and building
stronger foundations for development.
"We face serious challenges, in education, the
economy and democratic reform, but these can be
overcome with a transparent political process. We
remain positive, yet there are signs that the ghosts
of the past may return to manipulate the fair
elections we all deserve.
"One thing is for certain: all political parties
must ensure that any transfer of power is peaceful.
This will require an unwavering determination among
those of us campaigning for an honest and
accountable democracy. It is something the British
government bravely advocated in 2000. Over a decade
later, we must not let that intervention be in
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Climate change blamed for dead trees in Africa
12 December 2011
Trees are dying in the Sahel, a region in
Africa south of the Sahara Desert, and
human-caused climate change is to blame,
according to a new study led by a scientist
at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Rainfall in the
Sahel has dropped 20-30 percent in the 20th century,
the world’s most severe long-term drought since
measurements from rainfall gauges began in the
mid-1800s," said study lead author Patrick Gonzalez,
who conducted the study while he was a visiting
scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Forestry.
"Previous research already established climate
change as the primary cause of the drought, which
has overwhelmed the resilience of the trees."
The study, which is scheduled for publication
Friday, Dec. 16, in the Journal of Arid
Environments, was based upon climate change records,
aerial photos dating back to 1954, recent satellite
images and old-fashioned footwork that included
counting and measuring over 1,500 trees in the
The researchers focused on six countries in the
Sahel, from Senegal in West Africa to Chad in
Central Africa, at sites where the average
temperature warmed up by 0.8 degrees Celsius and
rainfall fell as much as 48 percent.
They found that one in six trees died between 1954
and 2002. In addition, one in five tree species
disappeared locally, and indigenous fruit and timber
trees that require more moisture took the biggest
Hotter, drier conditions dominated population and
soil factors in explaining tree mortality, the
authors found. Their results indicate that climate
change is shifting vegetation zones south toward
"In the western U.S., climate change is leading to
tree mortality by increasing the vulnerability of
trees to bark beetles," said Gonzalez, who is now
the climate change scientist for the National Park
"In the Sahel, drying
out of the soil directly kills trees. Tree dieback
is occurring at the biome level. It’s not just one
species that is dying; whole groups of species are
The new findings put solid numbers behind the
anecdotal observation of the decline of tree species
in the Sahel.
"People in the Sahel depend upon trees for their
survival," said Gonzalez. "Trees provide people with
food, firewood, building materials and medicine. We
in the U.S. and other industrialized nations have it
in our power, with current technologies and
practices, to avert more drastic impacts around the
world by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Our
local actions can have global consequences."
Other co-authors of the study are Compton J. Tucker,
senior earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center, and Hamady Sy, country representative
for Mauritania at the Famine Early Warning Systems
Funding from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey
helped support this research.
"Durban climate talks - Polluters won, people lost"
– says Greenpeace Africa
11 December 2011
On the closing of the latest round of UN
climate talks in Durban, Greenpeace today
declared that it was clear that our
Governments - this past two weeks, listened
to the carbon-intensive polluting
corporations, instead of listening to the
people who want an end to our dependence on
fossil fuels and real and immediate action
on climate change.
"The grim news is
that the blockers - led by the US, have succeeded in
inserting a vital get-out clause that could easily
prevent the next big climate deal being legally
binding. If that loophole is exploited, it could be
a disaster. And the deal is due to be implemented
'from 2020' leaving almost no room for increasing
the depth of carbon cuts in this decade, when
scientists say we need emissions to peak," said Kumi
Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director.
"Right now the global climate regime amounts to
nothing more than a voluntary deal that’s put off
for a decade. This could take us over the two degree
threshold where we pass from danger to potential
"Our atmosphere has been loaded with a carbon debt
and the bill, carrying a Durban postmark, has been
posted to the world’s poorest countries especially
here in Africa. The chance of averting catastrophic
climate change is slipping through our hands, with
every passing year that nations fail to agree on a
rescue plan for the planet."
According to Greenpeace Africa, South Africa as
host of the COP 17 tried to ensure a meaningful
"The type of deal that has been reached has been
strongly influenced by the blockers led by US," said
Ferrial Adam - Climate and Energy Campaigner for
Back top of page
Zimbabwe’s SECURICO Wins 2011 AFRICA AWARDS For
9 December 2011
Legatum - a private international investment
group and Omidyar Network, a philanthropic
investment firm, today announced that
SECURICO has won the US $100,000 grand prize
of the 2011 Africa Awards for
Based in Harare,
Zimbabwe, SECURICO provides guarding services and
electronic security solutions, and is the first
security company in Zimbabwe to be ISO
(International Organisation for Standardisation)
SECURICO has more than 3,400 employees, 900 of which
are women, making it the largest employer of women
in the private sector. The company exemplifies the
vital role played by entrepreneurs in creating
economic growth, prosperity, and realising
opportunity in Africa.
Photo: Divine Ndhlukula
women-owned businesses out of seven winning
companies represented from 3,300 entries
competing for US $400,000 in Prizes.
"It is such an honor for me to be recognized
by the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship
and included in such a talented, dynamic
group of entrepreneurs" said Divine
Ndhlukula, Founder and Managing Director of
"I hope that
my story of creating SECURICO, and those of
my fellow finalists, will help to inspire
other African entrepreneurs to seek
opportunity, embrace risk, and above all,
believe in themselves."
A record 3,300
companies from 48 African countries submitted
entries to compete for the Grand Prize of US
$100,000, and six additional prizes of US $50,000
each, including the new Coca-Cola Award for an
Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur, granted to Victoria
Seeds, an agribusiness based in Kampala, Uganda.
The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship recognises
and rewards business leaders who embody the
entrepreneurial spirit and qualities required to
succeed in business and who are the inspirational
role models for the next generation of African
Five further finalists were recognized and each
awarded a prize of US $50,000:
• Chocolate City
Group, Abuja, Nigeria
Technologies., Phoenix, Mauritius
• Pepperoni Foods,
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
• Unique Solutions,
Serrekunda, The Gambia
• soleRebels, Addis
Philip Vassiliou, Managing Director of Legatum,
commented, "Legatum firmly believes that
entrepreneurship is the most effective mechanism for
distributing scarce resources around an economy.
Entrepreneurs have the ability to see an opportunity
and build a business around it, and the profit these
businesses generate is evidence that needs are being
met in the optimal way."
He added "We are
pleased to recognise all of our 2011 Award finalists
for the vital contributions they have made in
promoting prosperity across the continent."
The ten finalists underscore the diversity of
entrepreneurs in the competition, representing eight
countries including Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya,
Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The top ten, which includes three women-owned
businesses, work in a range of industries, from
software to entertainment to agribusiness.
Divine Ndhlukula & Richard Branson of Virgin
"The winners of the 2011 Africa Awards
represent a diversity of backgrounds,
industries, and geographies, but they also
share a common determination in building and
scaling a successful company," said Matt
Bannick, Managing Partner of Omidyar
Network. "We congratulate each of the
winners, and welcome them to the Awards'
growing network of business leaders who are
fostering innovation, job creation, and
positive social impact from within Africa."
To determine the winners, finalists gathered
in Nairobi to present to a prominent jury of
African business leaders and investors. The
panel was chaired by Malik Fal, Managing
Director of Endeavor.
The jury also
included some of Africa’s most prominent
entrepreneurs and investors, including Kamal
Budhabhatti, CEO of Craft Silicon and Grand Prize
Winner of the 2010 Africa Awards; James Manyika,
Director of the McKinsey Global Institute; Ayisi
Makatiani, the CEO of Fanisi Capital; and Tokunboh
Ishmael, co-founder and Managing Director of
The winners were evaluated on profitability; return
on investment and growth; long-term business
strategy; leadership, culture and values; investment
in employees; innovation to address market needs;
and contribution to the community.
Legatum is a private investment group with a
twenty-five year heritage of generating and
allocating capital and ideas that can help people to
lead more prosperous lives, and which applies its
investor’s expertise to a long standing involvement
in the sustainable development of communities around
information, please visit Legatum’s website:
Omidyar Network is a
philanthropic investment firm dedicated to
harnessing the power of markets to create
opportunity for people to improve their lives.
Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar
and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and
helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze
economic and social change.
To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than
$450 million to for-profit companies and non-profit
organizations that foster economic advancement and
encourage individual participation across multiple
investment areas, including microfinance, property
rights, consumer internet, mobile and government
To learn more,
top of page
"fiscal restraint will be critical to maintaining
Sierra Leone’s macroeconomic stability" – says IMF
8 December 2011
The international Monetary Fund (IMF) last night
issued its assessment report on the health of the
Sierra Leone economy, ending several weeks of
speculation as to the direction and effectiveness of
the government’s fiscal and monetary policy.
There were fears of the economy facing a downward
spiral as the liquidity of the banks, increased
government borrowing and falling tax receipts
impedes effort to achieve a balanced budget. The
government would need to find over Le1 Trillion by
the end of this year to balance its books.
The budget statement to parliament
delivered by finance minister Samura Kamara,
may not have helped in quelling the
widespread suspicion of an economy in deep
trouble, and the inability of the government
to effectively manage and grow the economy.
Last week, the government’s Monetary Policy
Committee (MPC), which is chaired by Bank of
Sierra Leone Governor - Sheku Sambadeen
Sesay, announced that; "the Committee had
decided to leave the Bank’s Monetary Policy
Rate (MPR) at 20%, but increased the
corridor on the Lombard Rate by 300
percentage points from 27% to 30%."
increase has been interpreted as an effort to
restrain government borrowing, it will affect the
liquidity of local banks who regard the Bank of
Sierra Leone as 'lender of last resort'.
Yesterday, the Executive Board of the IMF announced
that it had concluded its second and third review of
Sierra Leone’s economic performance, under a program
supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), the
outcome of which has enabled "the immediate
disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 8.88
million - about US$13.8 million".
This disbursement brings the total received so far
by the government from the IMF – under this ECF
programme to SDR 17.76million - about US$27.6
million. Total IMF funding approved in 2010 - under
the three-year ECF arrangement for Sierra Leone is
SDR 31.11 million.
With two years yet to run, there is only SDR 3.5
million left in the IMF reserve, in support of
Sierra Leone’s economic recovery programme.
Confirming fears of the lack of control of
government’s borrowing and spending; the IMF said
that it has had to approve "waivers for
non-observance of performance criteria on net
domestic bank credit to the central government and
net domestic assets of the central bank, both for
end-December 2010, and for the continuous
performance criterion on the ceiling on new
non-concessional external debt."
The squeeze on lending imposed by a 3% hike in
Central Bank interest rate from 27% to 30% announced
last week, pre-empted the IMF’s decision to issue
new and tighter controls on the government’s
The IMF says that; it has "approved a modification
of three performance criteria for end-December 2011
related to the net domestic bank credit to the
central government, net domestic assets of the
central bank, and gross foreign exchange reserves of
the central bank to reflect envisaged changes in
fiscal and monetary policy."
Year on year inflation has risen by almost 2% to
17.15%. It is not clear which of the performance
criteria have been modified.
The Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair of the
IMF Executive Board - Mr. Naoyuki Shinohara issued
the following statement, following his review
discussions with the government yesterday:
"The economy is continuing to recover, reflecting
steady growth in mining, manufacturing, and
construction. Inflation, however, remains high due
to exogenous shocks and loose monetary policy at the
end of 2010.
"Given tighter policies and more favourable external
conditions, inflation is expected to decline in the
near term. Gross international reserves remain at
"Notwithstanding progress with respect to
macroeconomic and structural policies, recent
performance under the authorities’ program,
supported by the three-year Extended Credit
Facility, has been mixed.
"Despite improved revenue performance in the second
half of 2010, an acceleration of infrastructure
investment under the government’s Agenda for Change
led to a surge in unbudgeted spending and
commensurate liquidity expansion. As monetary policy
accommodated the fiscal easing, key fiscal and
monetary targets for December 2010 were not met.
"The government took action in early 2011 to tighten
policies, resorting to both revenue and expenditure
measures, resulting in improved program performance.
It is also taking action to impose a statutory limit
on central bank credit to the government. Continued
fiscal restraint will be critical to maintaining
macroeconomic stability in the period ahead.
Whilst the IMF was
unable to confirm the government's projected
economic growth figures, which many analysts believe
to be far too ambitious - 50% in 2012,
Naoyuki Shinohara said
that; "The medium-term outlook is favourable.
Full operation of an iron ore megaproject in 2012 is
expected to boost GDP and exports substantially."
"The fiscal space for infrastructure investment and
social spending is, however, constrained in the near
term, as government revenue is expected to increase
only gradually in the first years of new mining
"Financing the upcoming elections, as well as the
government’s decision to reduce excises on fuel,
puts additional burdens on the 2012 budget.
"Monetary policy will seek to contain inflationary
pressures, bringing inflation down to single digits
by 2013, while improving policy implementation and
communication. Exchange rate flexibility should be
maintained to facilitate adjustment to external
"Administrative reforms must also underpin policy
efforts with a focus on improving tax
administration, strengthening public financial
management, and deepening the financial sector.
These reforms will help create fiscal space for
capital and social spending, while encouraging
private sector investment and activity in support of
inclusive and broad-based growth", Mr. Shinohara
Sierra Leone is running at over 80% and average
daily income is less than $1. With few families
going to bed with more than one square meal a day,
the president's 2007 promise to ensure that no one
goes to bed hungry, and that youth unemployment
becomes a curse of the past, is yet to be realised.
Critics say that
whilst a surge in mining production will certainly
increase the country's GDP in the medium term, the
impact on poverty and unemployment may not
necessarily be felt, if the country's non-mining
industries - the engines of job creation, are left
to continue to decline.
needs to re-adjust its spending priorities in
support of improving the productive capacity of the
top of page
Cooperative enterprises put business in the hands of
Sidie Sheriff - World Bank, Freetown
Cocoa farmers in
Sierra Leone are coming together to increase the
value of their produce. They are establishing
cooperative enterprises that will effectively market
and export their crop. Cooperatives promote
increased competition, drive up prices and give
farmers a sense of ownership.
The World Bank is
supporting the cocoa cooperatives through its Rural
and Private Sector Development Project.
In Sierra Leone’s
eastern district of Kailahun, Kenema and Kono, the
farmers have formed three independent cooperatives
that pool cocoa bean exports, and help them compete
with large companies. With a membership of almost
13,000, momentum is growing.
network generates a sense of ownership among
indigenous cocoa farmers, helps increase price
consciousness and generates competition with private
companies that leads to higher prices," said Charles
Annor Frempong, World Bank Senior Rural Development
Specialist and team leader on the project.
cooperatives are all independent, but come together
to form a cocoa export company called KayeiGworma,
which synchronizes their business activities and
helps them compete in the international market.
into being of our cooperatives has begun to
build a new wave of international market
price consciousness in the cocoa sector,
which has forced traditional cocoa exporters
to increase their price offer to us farmers
from 1,500 Leones per pound of dried cocoa
beans to 3,500," said Mary Kaikai - a war
widow and local farmer.
responsible for taking care of her six
children in Nimikoro Chiefdom. "This has
benefitted all cocoa farmers in the country,
irrespective of their membership in our
cooperatives," she says.
members have yet to meet their target export volume
of 3,000 metric tons of cocoa per harvest season in
2011, up from 1,000 in 2010, the sense of ownership
has boosted pride among the farmers.
cooperatives, a new sense of ownership and greater
assurance of economic security and social safety net
is creeping through our member farmers," Kaikai
competition and higher income
With the entrance of
cooperatives in the market, traditional private
cocoa exporting companies now faced with new and
cooperatives were formed, the companies have
increased their price offers and incentives to cocoa
farmers to between 3,200 and 3,500 Leones. Private
companies also offer farmers other incentives,
including advance loans in the form of food-for-work
and shelter materials.
These shelters help
indebted farmers store their cocoa after the harvest
season, instead of selling it at lower prices that
are often dictated by the creditors - as a form of
debt relief. The companies also provide trucks that
can navigate the rugged rural road networks to cocoa
Despite some of these
incentives, the cooperatives are still forced to
fight back against the private companies, which have
tried to keep prices low by buying from
non-cooperative farmers and purchasing low-quality
to success in Ghana
In their bid to
survive the competition and challenges, the
cooperatives have been drawing from similar
experiences of successful cooperative arrangements
and growth in Ghana. This is done through continuous
hands-on mentoring by a cocoa expert from Ghana,
"Prior to the
project’s intervention, cocoa farmers in Sierra
Leone faced numerous setbacks after the war," said
Ohemeng-Tinyase. "Many had to redevelop their farms
and did not know the best procedures to produce high
quality cocoa beans."
He observed that
farmers also played no role in marketing their
cocoa, and had no control over their selling price.
"By putting the
control of the business in the hands of the farmers,
the cooperatives can now help members reap the
greatest possible benefits from cocoa farming," he
Before the country’s civil war began in
1991, cocoa was Sierra Leone’s number one
agricultural export. In 2006, the World Bank
conducted a Diagnostic Trade Integration
Study in Sierra Leone that advised the
government to focus on cocoa because of its
growth potential and the positive experience
of exporting cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire and
The study’s most
important message was "Get the cocoa sector working
In order to help
boost Sierra Leone's cocoa farming sector, the
cooperatives launched a program that aims to
transition small-scale farmers to larger scale
production for international export. This was done
with management assistance from the Government of
Sierra Leone and funding from the World Bank’s Rural
and Private Sector Development Project.
In addition to the
cocoa cooperative, the project also provides
knowledge and equipment to farmers, improves rural
infrastructure and supports storage facilities.
top of page
Timbergate corruption scandal – justice delayed is
president Sam Sumana
It’s been over a week since Vice President
(VP) Samuel Sam sumana was caught on tape
negotiating a bribe for personal financial
One would have expected a swift resignation
to follow the unfathomable brazenness and
world class stupidity exhibited by the man
occupying the second highest office of the
Indeed, the words and
actions of the VP as presented in the tapes are so
preposterous that it would not be far-fetched to
suggest that should he hurled before a court of law,
the VP will plead not guilty by reason of mental
sumana has been silent, which may not be unconnected
with assurances from pro-government media outlets
that the VP has done nothing wrong.
outlets, in their usual display of unbridled
sycophancy, have sought to overthrow the merits of
Sorious Samura’s operations on the grounds that what
was captured on tape did not take place in the VP’s
But reasonable minds
can agree that it matters not where the transactions
in question took place. Correspondingly, in a world
of improved communications systems spurred by rapid
technological progress, political systems have
evolved to a magnitude where offices like the VP’s
have become more of a process than a place.
This signifies that
Sam Sumana’s office can rightly be held accountable
for transactions done in its name at any physical
structure, over the phone, over the internet and in
any geographical location whatsoever.
Yet, even more
egregious is the argument from the VP’s friends that
the VP is a victim of a vicious tribalism within the
ranks of the APC. Accordingly, the "Bombali Mafia"
is identified as the group after the VP’s head.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
in Sierra Leone do not discriminate on the basis of
ethnicity or regionalism. They are all united on a
common purpose – loot as much as possible from the
Many, who hail from
the business sector, see politics as a fertile
ground for furthering shady and unscrupulous
ambitions nurtured in the business world.
This explains why
President Ernest Koroma of Bombali is attracted to
Sam Sumana of Kono. It also explains why Sam Sumana
of Kono was attracted to Alex Mansaray and Momoh
Konteh, two Bombali crooks, who reportedly have now
fled to the United States.
Thus, to suggest that
the VP is a victim of tribal hatred is not only
presumptuous but totally absurd.
Ultimately, the VP’s continued service will pose a
serious embarrassment to Sierra Leone in
Where else in the
world has a sitting VP been captured on tape
attempting to fleece foreign investors with such
the tragic Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
"The Scarlet Letter", Sierra Leone will continue to
wear a badge of sin, dishonour and guilt in
international relations as long as Sam Sumana
remains in public office.
This does not augur
well for a country trying to gain relevance in an
age of massive international capital flows. Would
foreign investors be attracted to Sierra Leone when
a tape exists depicting the VP as a reckless
Sumana’s baggage is so feculent that if this guy is
not kicked out of national politics, Sierra Leone
will continue to pay a high price in dwindling
inward foreign direct investments.
top of page
Guinean Central Bank moved to tighten monetary
policy and succeeds in controlling inflation
6 December 2011
A mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
headed by Mr. Harry Snoek visited Guinea during
November 10–22, 2011 to review developments, conduct
discussions based on the 2011 Article IV
consultation, and to seek to reach understanding
with the Guinean authorities on a macroeconomic and
financial program that could be supported by the IMF
under its Extended Credit Facility.
The mission met with President Alpha Condé,
Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Fofana, Minister
of Economy and Finance Kerfalla Yansané,
Deputy Minister of Budget Mohamed Diaré,
Governor of the Central Bank of the Republic
of Guinea (BCRG) Lounceny Nabé, and other
senior government officials and development
partners, as well as with representatives of
the Comité National de Transition and civil
At the end of the
mission, Mr. Snoek issued the following statement in
"Guinea made good progress under its 2011 economic
program, which, at the authorities’ request, is
being monitored by IMF staff. Helped by the
normalization of the political situation and high
growth in agriculture, the economy is likely to grow
by some 4 percent in 2011.
"Following the serious lapses in controlling
government spending in 2009-10, the new government
has taken important steps to stabilize the fiscal
position, eliminating the need to obtain new credit
from the BCRG. Freed from the burden of financing
the budget, the BCRG moved to tighten monetary
policy and has succeeded in containing the pace of
inflation and laying the basis for reducing the
inflation rate in the period ahead.
"Public financial management has been strengthened,
especially through the use of cash-based budget
management, while the adoption of a new mining code
is expected to increase the share of revenues from
exploitation of natural resources that will accrue
to the State.
"The main objective of the government’s
macroeconomic and financial policies over the coming
years is to substantially reduce inflation while
implementing a broad range of reforms aimed at
promoting economic growth and reducing poverty.
"Investment in the mining sector is increasing
rapidly and should generate substantial additional
budgetary revenues starting in 2015. In the meantime
policies supported by large one-off revenue from the
mining sector will focus on improving Guinea’s weak
infrastructure base, thereby helping to support
broad-based growth that will benefit the entire
"The government intends to complete the process
toward the completion point of the Enhanced Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries Initiative in 2012; this
would provide permanent relief from the heavy burden
of Guinea’s external debts, freeing up resources for
"The outlook for faster economic growth in the
coming years is favourable. Government investment is
projected to increase sharply in 2012, financed by
one-off revenue from the mining sector and by a
resumption of donor assistance. With a strong reform
effort and high investment in the mining sector,
annual growth should be in the range of 4–5 percent.
"But careful management of the one-off revenues
received from the mining sector will be important to
ensure that public spending can be maintained after
these resources have been exhausted.
"The mission has reached agreement ad referendum on
key elements of a macroeconomic and financial
program, notably on the budget for 2012 that could
be supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit
Facility. Discussions will continue in the coming
weeks, with the aim being to submit the program for
approval to the IMF’s Executive Board early in
top of page
Chasing a dream of selling African chocolate in
As an African, my
dream for the next decade is to see the continent
producing and selling chocolate to 300 million
Chinese, instead of exporting raw commodities like
Several weeks ago, at the China-Africa
Symposium in Xiamen, China, I tested this
vision on the audience, and the 2,000-plus
delegates joined in resounding applause.
Business and government leaders are
evidently ready to see Africa introduce
structural change aimed at creating
manufacturing-based national economies.
While many have
touted Africa's success in maintaining a 5-6 per
cent average GDP growth rate during the past decade,
this masks the reality that by 2005, sub-Saharan
Africa was little better off than it was a
quarter-century earlier: it was still the world's
poorest region, with just over half of its
population living on less than $1.25 (Dh4.58) a day
in purchasing parity terms.
countries are on a poverty treadmill, running fast
just to remain in the same position. This needs to
agriculture-led growth strategy of the 1960's, the
favoured antidote to five decades of a "happy
peasant" aid doctrine, must be replaced with an
agribusiness development strategy whereby
policymakers, donors, and entrepreneurs target the
entire value chain to support a shift from bulk
products to value-added, agro-industrial
Several years ago,
James Wolfensohn, the late World Bank president,
describing a new international order, described a
"four-speed world": the affluent, the converging,
the struggling, and the poor.
are closing the gap with the affluent OECD
countries; struggling countries have failed to
progress from middle-income status; and poor
countries — most of them in Africa — are mired in
The good news is that
since the 1990s, the number of poor countries in
Africa has fallen from 35 to 21, and the number of
converging economies has increased from two to 17.
But 13 of the latter are either dependent on oil
exports (Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria,
and Sudan), or mineral exports (Botswana, Ghana,
Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and
Moreover, the new
realities of the unfolding global economic crisis
that started in 2008 suggest that the North-South
flow of capital, aid, and finance of the past 50
years will not continue.
But it is also clear
that by 2030, today's emerging markets will account
for 60 per cent of global GDP and 40 per cent of the
world's consumer spending. Justin Lin,
Vice-President and Chief Economist of the World
Bank, speaking recently in Mozambique, encouraged
African countries to take advantage of the
"emergence of large middle-income countries such as
China, India, and Brazil".
They should position
themselves to capture from China "100 million
labour-intensive manufacturing jobs; enough to more
than quadruple manufacturing employment in
Can Africa position itself in the global
economy to produce and sell finished goods,
especially processed foods and agricultural
Can the continent break the North-South
commodity-based pattern of trade, and
inaugurate a pattern of South-North-South
triangular trade based on higher-value
Working with leading
experts like Tony Hawkins of the University Of
Zimbabwe Graduate School Of Business, the United
Nations Industrial Development Organisation has
formulated a roadmap to accelerate Africa's
It calls for
enhancing agricultural productivity; upgrading value
chains; exploiting local, regional, and
international demand; strengthening technological
effort and innovation capabilities; promoting
effective and innovative financing; stimulating
private participation; and improving infrastructure
and energy access.
development strategy focused on higher-value output
and stronger productivity growth throughout the
value chain represents one of the best opportunities
for rapid and broad-based economic growth and wealth
creation in Africa. It also may be one of the few
local pathways out of poverty for small farmers.
Africa still has
limited agro-processing activity and capacity in
As a result,
sub-Saharan countries experience up to 40 per cent
post-harvest losses, especially for perishable
commodities such as fruit and vegetables. In other
words, almost half of what is produced on Africa's
farms rots there, while the vast majority of the
population goes to bed hungry.
I have seen this
happen in Plateau and Benue States (supposedly the
breadbasket of Nigeria), and in villages and towns
in my home country, Sierra Leone.
The average chemical
fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa is 12.5 kg per
hectare of arable land, compared to the world
average of 102 kg per hectare.
agriculture sector is undercapitalised, with
extremely low levels of mechanization: an average of
13 tractors per 100 square kilometres compared to
129 per square kilometres in South Asia. Only 10 per
cent of Africa's hydropower potential is exploited,
compared to 70-80 per cent in OECD countries.
By 2030, more than 50
per cent of Africa's 1.4 billion inhabitants are
expected to live in cities. Urbanisation brings with
it opportunity, as consumer demand will most likely
shift towards higher-value processed foods,
including fruit, vegetables, vegetable oils, fish,
and dairy products.
Thanks to skilful marketing, an Indonesian
company convinced millions of Nigerians in
just five years to consume an instant-noodle
product, known as Indomie, instead of the
popular cassava product called Gari.
There is no immovable reason why Africa
countries — and companies — cannot do the
same thing. But that requires adopting a new
mantra for eradicating poverty, eliminating
hunger, and creating wealth: from cocoa to
chocolate, from cotton to garments, and from
bauxite to aluminium.
Yumkella (Sierra Leonean), Director-General of the
UN Industrial Development Organization and an editor
of a new publication ‘Agribusiness for Africa's
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President Koroma’s government 2012 Budget slammed by
Civil Rights group
3 December 2011
Sierra Leone government’s report on the state of the
economy, forecast growth and budget for 2012, was
delivered to parliament in the wake of the
Timbergate corruption scandal, which threatened to
bring down president Koroma’s government.
The reaction of the country’s
media to his government's planned budget for
2012 has been mute. But civil society groups
- who as usual have been outstanding in
holding the government to account, have been
swift and incisive in their response.
In a press statement published this weekend,
the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN),
questioned the government’s rationale for
the massive cut in anti-poverty programmes
for 2012, and the equally mean spirited
reduction in health care spending, despite
the immediate need to increase expenditure
on health care, so as to save the lives of vulnerable
international donors are currently paying for over
80% of the cost of the government's free health care
programme for lactating mothers, pregnant women and
children under five years old.
The government’s budget shows that spending on road
construction is far greater than that which the
government spends on education and health combined.
This is what BAN says in their statement:
"The Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) is a Network of
Civil Society Organizations in Sierra Leone
committed to work on government budget and its
related issues to enhance pro poor policies and
programme. BAN carefully studied the 2012 budget and
came up with brief observations and recommendations.
"This brief statement on the 2012 Budget is as a
result of a quick review of the national budget
presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development to Parliament on 25th November 2011.
"BAN will later follow this press statement with an
extensive analysis of the 2012 Budget Statement and
share the findings to all the stakeholders.
"We want to commence this statement by commending
the government for improving upon the data provided
in the budget profile by adding Ministries,
Departments and Agencies Payroll Budget Summary.
"We also applaud the government intention for
developing the 'citizen budget' and for
participating in the Open Budget Index in the spirit
of transparency and accountability.
- We call on the government to address capacity needs to manage donor
- Increase budgetary allocation to poverty related activities
- Focus on domestic rice production
- Increase budgetary allocation to the health sector
- Focus more on basic education expenditure
- Publish all tax exemption forgone
Capacity to Manage Donor Funds
"The 2012 budget recognized deficiencies in
administering and managing donor funded projects.
According to the budget, a number of donor funded
projects have continued to experience substantial
delays or cancellation of disbursement due to weak
administrative and project management, institutional
constraints as well as externally generated
"Given the fact that foreign loans and grants
constitute close to 70 percent of development
expenditure, there is the need for government to
investigate the situation and find lasting solution
to this problem.
"In the interim, we call on the government to
strengthen the Development Assistance Coordination
Office (DACO) which is responsible for coordinating
and managing resources from our development
"The 2012 budget has as one of its
priorities is to ensure inclusive growth and
poverty reduction. This priority is
laudable. However, we are concerned about
decline in allocation to poverty reduction
expenditure in 2012.
"For example in 2011 poverty related
expenditure constituted 63.91 percent of
total discretionary expenditure but in 2012
this has reduced to 49.81 percent.
"In 2011 poverty development expenditure as a
percentage of total development expenditure is 86.36
percent but in 2012 budget this has reduced to 30.84
"In subsequent budgets we call on the government to
increase allocation to poverty related expenditure
so as to reflect the priorities in the Agenda for
"With regards to the agricultural sector, we call on
the government to focus on rice production in the
country. According to Sierra Leone Export Promotion
Agency report, per capita consumption of rice in the
country is among the highest in Sub –Saharan Africa
and current production represents only 60 percent of
total domestic demand.
"There is a shortfall of 40 percent which
has to be complemented by imports. This
further worsens the Balance of Payments
situation in the country.
"Aside deterioration in balance of payment,
government spends a lot to protect
vulnerable groups when price of food
increases. According to 2012 budget, over Le
110 billion was used to provide food
subsidies and other safety nets because of
increase in food and fuel prices.
"BAN urges government to provide support to
local rice farmers to enable them increase
production so as to stabilize the price and
minimize the imports of rice. This will not
only address the balance of payments
problems but also reduce direct budget
subsidies on food.
The allocation to the Health sector excluding
salaries and wages in 2011 was Le 118.9 billion
whilst in 2012 it is Le 110.7 billion. With the
projected inflation of 8%, the 2012 this allocation
to the Health budget declined by 14% in real terms.
"We are very much concerned about such reduction
considering the numerous challenges facing the Free
Health Care and the health sector in general. In
2012 the health sector receives 6.7% of the total
"This percentage is far below the government
commitment in achieving the Abuja Deceleration (15%
of the total government budget to the Health sector)
.If we are to achieve the Millennium Development
Goal by 2015, the government must double up its
efforts including increasing expenditure to the
"In 2012, the education sector budget rose from Le
112.1 billion in 2011 to Le 138.9 billion. We
therefore commend government for the increase of
23.9% budgetary allocation to the education budget
"To achieve 'Education for All', we believe the
budget should focus more on basic education. Special
provision should be made in the budget to increase
enrolment, quality and retention of children in
schools. We call on the government to provide
benchmarks in the budget regarding the status of
achieving Education for All targets.
Revenue and Taxation
"While we applaud the measures announced for
improved revenue performance including the rolling
out of the ASYCUDA++ (software helping the
government collecting more revenue), amendments to
the Income Tax Act 2000 and GST Acts among several
other, we call on the government to increase
accountability and transparency with regards to tax
"The government must limit discretionary tax
incentives granted to mining companies, by
publishing all tax exemption forgone as well as
mandating the NRA to implement and monitor all
incentives and exemptions.
"BAN sees the budget as an important tool for
development and there is the need for all
stakeholders to work together to ensure effective
budget implementation.. We therefore call on the
Media and other stakeholders to take active interest
and collaborate with BAN to achieve this goal.
For effective implementation of the budget, it is
important MDAs provide quarterly reports to
parliament on the status of implementation."
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"Where President Koroma fails to act to end
corruption and impunity in this country, I shall
act" – says Maada Bio
30 November 2011
presidential candidate - Julius Maada Bio
Presidential candidate for the opposition
SLPP – Julius Maada Bio, has today delivered
a scathing attack on president Koroma’s
government, over allegations of the
government’s role in the Timbergate
corruption scandal, revealed by
Aljazeera television last week.
In a statement, seen as a strong show of
leadership by the recently elected
presidential aspirant to lead the opposition
SLPP into next year’s general and
presidential elections, Maada Bio questioned
President Koroma’s record in office,
especially his efforts to tackle corruption
and turn the economy around.
This is what he said:
"Under the yoke of abject poverty and economic
hardship, the people of Sierra Leone continue to
suffer. This has been their lot since the Government
of President Ernest Bai Koroma acceded to power in
"This suffering, borne out of a rapidly crumbling
economy, inflation and rocketing prices, reduced
food security, mounting unemployment and
hopelessness - especially among the youth, and a
weakening currency, has now reached pandemic
proportions - and there seems no end in sight under
the Koroma administration.
"As if condemning ordinary Sierra Leoneans to the
margins of economic deprivation and destitution is
not bad enough, the stench of official corruption in
the Koroma administration is now suffocating even
the uppermost echelons of political power, to an
extent that, it is posing a serious threat to the
country’s hard-won peace and stability - and denting
the image of Sierra Leone overseas.
"The latest corruption scandal to rock the Koroma
administration is the Al-Jazeera Television 'Africa
Investigates' documentary programme, broadcast to
the world on Wednesday, 23 November 2011. It has
been rebroadcast many times since.
"The programme showed that even the Office of the
Vice-President of the Republic - within the
Presidency, Hon. Samuel Sam Sumana, is not immune
from the corruption virus afflicting the Government
of President Koroma.
"In the instant case, it was alleged that the Office
of the Vice-President had no scruple demanding a
bribe of US$50,000 in return for a licence for
logging or for the illegal export of timber, even
though there was an extant official ban on such
"A Government Press Release, emanating from a
'special meeting at State House on 24 November
2011', has informed the public that investigations
of the matter by the Police and the Anti-Corruption
Commission are underway; that they would be kept
fully apprised of progress; and that any breach of
the law by anyone, irrespective of status, would be
met with the full force of the law.
"It is to be hoped that, unlike the Al-Jazeera
programme, the Commission’s investigation is not
going to be limited to the Office of the
"Applying the minimum standard espoused in
developed democracies like the United Kingdom, where
the mere appearance or hint of corruption by a high
official of Government, is sufficient for that
Government to admit leadership failure in fighting
graft. Such a standard is yet to be embraced by
"His decision on the matter (or lack of it) clearly
shows, once again, that he is truly not serious
about curbing corruption from his Government. Does
President Koroma really need undercover
investigative journalists from Al-Jazeera to air
their documentary, for him to know about the serious
breaches of his moratorium on logging and the huge
graft associated with them?
"How else can anyone characterise the President’s
decision (or lack of it) in the instant case, when
even little children know that illegal logging is
going on in forested areas around the country -
contrary to the official ban on such activity?
"Or indeed, can any objective analysis ignore the
fact that no logging or export of timber can ever
take place without the prior knowledge or connivance
of Ministries such as Agriculture and Forestry,
Trade and Industry, the Police and the NRA, etc,
"In the documentary itself, the award-winning
journalist - Sorious Samura, claimed that their
“sting” investigation into illegal logging in Sierra
Leone was carried out with the prior knowledge of
"The investigation focussed mainly on the Office of
the Vice-President, while the sector Ministries and
other government agencies with oversight
responsibilities for enforcing the ban, received
only scant attention.
"And, in all this, President Koroma is quietly
absolved from blame. His action (or lack of it) was
treated, somewhat erroneously, as unassailable. In
the circumstances, should anyone be surprised if
Vice-President Sam Sumana decides to resist any
pressures to vacate his office? Under the terms of
the Constitution of 1991, President Koroma is
powerless to sack him.
"At the risk of recycling earlier SLPP Press
Statements, it is worthy to recall here the
catalogue of corruption allegations that the SLPP
had previously highlighted, and in respect of which,
the public is still awaiting a response from the
"This catalogue includes:
waivers to the friends and relatives of the
treatment in the award of contracts to the
President’s friends and relatives
Presidential certificates of urgency to debar open
and frank debates on important Parliamentary Bills -
such as the Mines and Mineral Acts 2009 and the Oil
Exploration and Production Act 2011
prices of Government-funded projects
Illegal fishing in
Sierra Leone waters
logging and export of timber.
"To this catalogue may now be added the 'sting'
revelation by Al-Jazeera alleging blatant and
unbridled corruption in the Office of the
Vice-President, involving the demand for and taking
of a bribe for lifting the ban on logging and export
of the country’s timber.
Koroma - in a quandary
"The public is left pondering what
meaning to give to this latest revelation.
political reality is that the country is
reeling from a grave failure of leadership
in the Presidency, compounded by an
under-performing Government, whose main
interests are defined by considerations
other than a commitment to the principles of
"Failed economic policies continue to plague the
country and place tired and angry looks on people’s
faces. Moreover the Government’s inability to
enforce its own ban is not only tarnishing the
country’s image abroad, but also compromising its
efforts at 're-branding'.
"While all this is
going on at the apex of Government, governance at
the national level is getting increasingly
precarious and the masses continue to suffer.
"Let me take you back to my Maiden Address to the
nation on November 3, 2011. The high rate of
inflation in the country is giving rise to a culture
of corruption that is going unpunished. But if our
long-term goal is sustainable economic growth, and
the alleviation of poverty, none of this can occur
in an environment riddled with corruption.
"Our fight against corruption, therefore, has to
be robust, complete, transparent and non-political.
This fight is about ending impunity; it’s about
probity, about holding public officials accountable;
about compelling them to obey the law and to do
things according to the law.
"President Kabbah’s Government started it all. They
passed the seminal legislation in 2002. To his
credit, after 2007, President Koroma’s Government
strengthened it. Between them, they have put in
place the necessary legislative and institutional
"What remains to be done now is really very, very
you really have to get more serious in your efforts
to tackle corruption. And you can start right now by
removing the immunity you have placed around the
sacred cows from amongst family, friends and
business partners, and allow the anti-corruption
laws to bite.
"Do this and you will soon see the difference in
public attitude and perception about corruption in
this country. Fail to do this, Mr. President, then
nothing is going to change and it will all be
business as usual.
I make this solemn promise. Where President
Koroma fails to act to end corruption and impunity
in this country, I shall act."
Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio
SLPP Presidential Flag Bearer for 2012 Presidential
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Mayor Herbert of Freetown and council chief officer
– Bowenson Phillips charged with corruption
many weeks of media allegations of corruption and
denials by senior officers and mayor of Freetown
City Council, the chickens have come home to roost:
the Anti-Corruption Commission has finally decided
to indict Mayor Herbert Williams, the Chief Officer
of the Council, and eight others.
The ten accused persons were named by the
ACC as; Herbert Akieremi George-Williams –
Mayor, Freetown City Council; Bowenson
Frederick Phillips – Chief Administrator,
Freetown City Council; Arthur Kwesi-John –
Deputy Chief Administrator, Freetown City
named in the High Court's charge list are:
Sylvester Momoh Konnehi – Acting City
Treasurer; Desmond Thomas – Head of
Cashier’s Office – Freetown City Council;
Franklyn Garber – Senior Engineer, Freetown
City Council; Alimamy Turay – Municipal
Trade Officer – Freetown City Council;
Nimata Bendu –Former Finance Officer –
Lumley Government Hospital; Aiah Brimah,
Development Planning Officer – Freetown City
Council; Mohamed Allie Shaaban – Business
Man, operating as 'Waka Fast' Construction
and General Services.
The accused will all
appear in Court on the 5th December 2011, after the
ACC yesterday - Monday, 28 November 2011, filed a
twenty-five counts charge of corruption against
them, with respect to the following offences:
Conspiracy to commit Corruption Offences in the sum
of Le744,450,000 (Seven Hundred and Forty Four
Million, Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones)
relating to a two-day Morgan Heritage Concert;
Misappropriation of Public Funds to the tune of
Le1,047,216,300 and USD$19,000 (One Billion and
Forty Seven Million, two Hundred and Sixteen
Thousand, Three Hundred Leones) and (Nineteen
Thousand United States Dollars);
Failure to comply with applicable rules and
guidelines relating to the Procurement of Contract
for services involving the sum of US165,000 ( One
Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand United States
Failure to pay employee taxes amounting to
Le430,412,432 (Four Hundred and Thirty Million, Four
Hundred and twelve Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty
Two Leones) being monies deducted from Employees
Salaries that were not paid over to the NRA;
Failure to pay NASSIT Contributions in the sum of
Le76,123,246.20 (Seventy Six Million, One Hundred
and Twenty Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Six
Leones, Twenty Cents) being monies deducted from
Employees Salaries that were not paid over to
NASSIT, amongst others.
According to statement by the ACC, "the Mayor,
Herbert Akieremi George-Williams and the Chief
Administrator, Bowenson Frederick Phillips, have
both been served with copies of the Indictment and
put on bail in the sum of Le500,000,000 (Five
Hundred Million Leones) and two Sureties to be
Property Owners in the Western Area of Freetown".
This is a very important test case for not only the
ACC Czar, but more so for president Koroma on whom
all eyes are now set – in his fight against
corruption, following last week's revelation by
Aljazeera TV of corruption at the highest level of
The vice president and his two business associates
are caught on camera willing to accept over $100,000
bribe, in return for the flouting of timber export
laws. The ACC has promised to investigate and bring
those accused to justice, including the vice
The mayor of Freetown – Herbert Williams is a key
member of the ruling APC party and a major vote
puller for the government in many constituencies
around the capital – Freetown.
But with general and presidential elections just
twelve months away, the president would want to see
that the corruption case involving the Mayor is
concluded as swiftly as possible. The ACC is said to
be determined to ensure that justice is served.
top of page
Microfinance can lift the poor out of poverty
Under a novel
microfinance arrangement in Ethiopia, tiny bits of
cash get to the rural poor - leading to a steady
alleviation of poverty. Reporting for Africa
Renewal; Andualem Sisay examines the impact of
microfinance on poor communities in Ethiopia.
outskirts of this town, 45 kilometres south
of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital,
Aselefech Desalegn fights the flames she
uses for baking enjera, Ethiopia’s staple
flatbread. Like millions of poor Ethiopian
women, she is also constantly battling to
feed her children.
years her livelihood has depended on
supplying enjera to hotels in the town.
"Except for the chair you see over there,
all you see in the house comes from Buusaa
Gonofaa," she says, referring to the
microfinance organization that has helped
fund her home-based business.
Fifteen years ago
Aselefech left her poor parents behind in a nearby
rural settlement and moved to this town (which was
previously called Debre Zeit). Since many rural
families in Ethiopia harvest but once a year, it has
become common for rural youth like Aselefech to
either migrate to urban areas or even to Middle
Eastern countries where they work as house maids.
After getting her
first 500 birr (about US$30) loan from Buusaa
Gonofaa seven years ago, Aselefech started selling
charcoal and eggs on the side roads of Bishoftu.
"Although I earned
better than in my previous job as a cook in a hotel,
I couldn’t resist the heat and rain on the street.
The business also took me away from my kids," she
recalls. So after three years she switched to baking
enjera and distributing it to hotels.
Aselefech is now
among Buusaa Gonofaa’s regular clients, with access
to $455 in loans, repayable at either 9 per cent
interest over six months or 18 per cent per year.
From the profits selling enjera, she can not only
take care of her children, but also send money back
to her family to help them obtain food and to fatten
institutions in Ethiopia give loans to poor people
on a "group liability" basis, since the poor
generally do not have property to use as collateral.
Every member of such a group is liable for those who
may fail to repay.
It was not easy for
Aselefech to find enough people like her to form a
group, since many people are not willing to take on
liability for others. But Aselefech finally managed
to form a group of 13 members. Each has different
business ideas, but most buy goods from far away and
sell them at a higher price near where they live.
Buusaa Gonofaa was
established in 2001 and currently has 50,000 clients
around the country. It gives out loans of up to $852
for individuals belonging to a group. Most are poor
"We increase the loan
amounts to our clients by looking into their
previous track records," says Getachew Mekonnin,
head of Buusaa Gonofaa’s marketing and social
performance section. Members of a group are expected
to finish repaying their loans at interest rates
ranging from 18 to 30 per cent per year. It is
mandatory for clients to deduct a portion of their
debt each week.
In Ethiopia’s 2008/09
fiscal year, there were 28 microfinance institutions
in the country, with cumulative assets of $375
million. There now are 31 microfinance institutions,
a dozen years after the first one was licensed.
As of 2010, they
had extended $108 million in loans to nearly 660,000
borrowers. The potential is much greater, but such
institutions have limited capacities and fear the
risk of lending to poor households, especially in
"It is quite obvious
that some microfinance institutions are scared of
going rural," says Baptiste Ast, a senior
microfinance expert at PlaNet Finance, an
international non-governmental organization.
From his experience,
Mr. Ast believes that governments and international
donors can adopt tougher regulations to oblige
microfinance institutions and banks to extend more
is still very new and has a lot of potential, given
that the majority of people in Africa still live in
rural areas," say Mr. Ast.
"One can be
optimistic about the impact that innovative loan and
crop or livestock micro-insurance products would
have on smallholder farmers," helping protect them
against shocks like droughts or floods.
Some studies have
recommended that the government allow foreign
investors to provide microcredit in Ethiopia, as
they do elsewhere in the world. That would mean
scrapping a law that prohibits involvement in the
According to a study
by the country’s microfinance association, the core
capital resources of most Ethiopian microfinance
institutions currently come from foreign NGOs or
local government. These microfinance institutions
are legally required to be set up as shareholder
companies and to be regulated by the central bank.
inflation rate, which currently stands at around 40
per cent, is often cited as a major obstacle to the
expansion of the country’s microfinance
institutions. Industry players worry that this makes
the real interest rate on deposits highly negative,
discouraging savings and eroding the saving capacity
of potential depositors.
About 3 billion
people in developing countries have little or no
access to formal financial services. But such access
could be a powerful instrument for reducing poverty
and enabling poor people to build their assets,
increase incomes and reduce their vulnerability to
services such as savings, loans and money transfers
enable poor families to invest in enterprises,
improve nutrition and living conditions and provide
for the health and education of their children.
To meet that need,
microfinance has been growing rapidly over the past
15 years, and currently reaches some 130 million
According to the
World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the
global growth of microfinance has been driven by
many factors, including the transformation of
microfinance providers, the sizable supply gap for
basic financial services, the expansion of funding
sources and new technologies.
Many experts agree
that when done responsibly, microfinance can have a
significant development impact and improve the lives
of people such as Aselefech. But other initiatives
are also needed.
"One would be naive
to think that microfinance alone can eradicate
hunger and poverty," cautions Mr. Ast.
"This is a very good
tool to empower people, especially women. But it
cannot be considered as the miracle solution."
top of page
Investment boost for West African mining and power -
WAMPEX powers regional development
28 November 2011
It’s been called the 'West African gold
rush' and is seen as a 'mining hotspot', one
of the world’s fastest growing regions for
gold production. West Africa is also
abundantly endowed with many other mineral
resources and offers huge opportunities for
global and local companies.
The only impediment to its success is an
unreliable power supply.
To address this, West
African regional governments have embarked on a
major development programme to expand infrastructure
and increase capacity. In doing this, the region’s
infrastructure and power issues have in fact become
an opportunity, much like its mining sector.
"Fortuitously, the West African Mining and Power
Exhibition (WAMPEX) provides a versatile and
powerful platform for facilitating business and
trade in these sectors," says John Thomson, Managing
Director of Exhibition Management Services,
co-organisers of the event.
WAMPEX is the leading mining and power trade show
for West Africa, and takes place in Accra from 6 to
8 June 2012.
"With the flood of mining and power projects and
related business opportunities gearing up in West
Africa, WAMPEX provides a comprehensive networking
hub for suppliers and stakeholders to do business."
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Moses Duma
believes that the on-going power sector reform
programmes in West Africa have opened up the power
industry to private participation.
"The reforms have created an environment conducive
for power producers to compete in power generation
and also distribution," he says.
Currently power demand outstrips supply – a result
of unprecedented economic growth, driven by the
growing oil industry. "The power sector in most West
African countries is characterised by rolling black
outs and high technical losses," says Duma.
"Electricity access ranges between 10% and 40% of
the population, but lack of financial and human
resources have prevented West Africa from meeting
demand. But with the involvement of private power
operators, this can only improve."
International Funding offers Opportunities
In August 2011, the
Ghanaian parliament approved a US$3-billion loan
from China’s Exim Bank for infrastructure projects –
with further loans worth another US$6-billion under
consideration. The funding is part of a
US$13-billion agreements package signed in 2010
between Ghana and Chinese banks to develop
infrastructure projects, particularly in the oil and
considerable opportunities for developers,
suppliers, service providers and consultants, not
only in Ghana but in the Region as well," says
"The US Export-Import
Bank has identified Nigeria as one of nine countries
offering US companies the greatest opportunities for
sales, and recently signed a US$1.5-billion deal
with the Nigerian power ministry for US companies to
work in the underperforming power sector."
The privatisation of
the country’s electricity generation and
distribution sector has already begun, with dozens
of licences issued for independent power projects.
Nigeria’s privatisation agency aims to complete the
sale of six power plants and 11 distribution firms
by the first quarter of 2012.
By 2015, the country
plans to boost its power output from the current 4
000 megawatts to 15 000 megawatts.
Last year, Nigeria
received a $3bn funding boost from the African
Development Bank and $2bn from the Islamic
Development Bank for the rebuilding of power
"And of course,
Nigeria’s massive oil and gas sector provides
considerable overlap with the mining and power
sectors to provide additional infrastructure
development opportunities for stakeholders," says
"A new $10-billion
gas-fired power plant will become the largest in
Nigeria, with capacity to provide power up to 5
million homes in Nigeria."
The China Development
Bank has loaned Ghana $800-million to develop its
natural gas infrastructure. A gas pipeline will link
the offshore production site to a new processing
plant in west Ghana.
Mining Projects Aplenty
A recent survey by Infomine of mining companies
operating in Africa and listed on the Toronto Stock
Exchanges indicates that 107 mines are active in
West Africa, well above the 69 in Eastern
Sub-Saharan Africa, 49 in Southern Africa, and 39 in
Western Sub-Saharan Africa.
opportunities are almost boundless and spread far
beyond the only the West African area," concludes
This is the 10th
International Exhibition for suppliers to West
Africa’s rapidly growing mining and mineral
resources sector. International suppliers of mining
equipment, technology, services and consumables, as
well as those companies offering power generating
equipment, transmission and distribution equipment
and technology, will showcase their products and
The event is
organised by Exhibition Management Services in
association with EPI Events and Projects
Contact Serean at
Exhibition Management Services. Tel+27 (0)11 783
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Government of Sierra Leone and the Anti-Corruption
Commission issue statements about the Timbergate
president Sam Sumana
frenzied and somewhat schizophrenic response
to the Aljazeera television report on the
country’s Timbergate corruption scandal,
involving vice president Sam Sumana and two
of his business associates - Alex Mansaray
and Momoh Konteh, both the government and
the Anti-Corruption Commission have released
statements to calm the nerves of people in
the streets and the international community.
government issued the statement following a
cabinet meeting at State House – chaired by
an 'angry' president Koroma, who after four
years in power, is still struggling to
win confidence for his 'zero tolerance for
Many in the country
and outside, believe that corruption in high places
is stifling the country’s development, as the
Aljazeera documentary reveals.
In its statement,
the government said:
"The attention of the
Government of Sierra Leone has been drawn to a
documentary programme aired by Al Jazeera English in
its current series entitled 'Africa Investigates'.
Government has critically reviewed the said
documentary with a view to instituting a detailed
investigation of the several issues raised that
suggest a serious breach of the ongoing moratorium
on the logging industry in Sierra Leone.
"Government acknowledges and appreciates the good
efforts of Al Jazeera in bringing these issues to
"Government reiterates that the moratorium on the
felling processing and export of timber remains in
full force. Thus, Government emphatically rejects
statements which are contrary to Government policy
made in the programme by certain persons who are
"In the meantime, the public is assured that
Government will fully address the matters aired in
the programme. In line with its accountability
policy, Government will undertake additional
stringent measures to forestall any future breaches
of its environmental and conservation policies to
protect and sustain the country’s biodiversity.
"At a special meeting at State House on 24th
November 2011, the President reiterated
government’s national and international
environmental obligations while emphasizing
the need for maintaining the ban on
"Once more, Government wishes the public to
know that any breach of the Law by any
person, irrespective of status, will meet
with the full force of the law.
The investigations by the Police and the
Anti Corruption Commission on the issues
highlighted are well underway. The public
will be kept fully informed of progress."
With the government’s
swift statement making it clear that there will be
an investigation by the police and the country’s
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the
anti-corruption Czar wasted no time to confirm that
he has set the investigation process into motion.
"The notice of the
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been drawn to a
publication on Al Jazeera television broadcast at
22:30 GMT on Wednesday, 23rdNovember 2011 in its
'Africa Investigates' series relating to allegations
of corruption in the illegal timber trade in Sierra
highlighted footages of transactions in which
allegations of acts of corruption, such as
soliciting, accepting or obtaining advantage;
bribery; and peddling influence, were levelled
against certain persons inclusive but not limited to
the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
"In view of the
weight and level of allegations as contained in the
documentary, the ACC has decided to institute an
immediate in-depth investigation into the matter.
The ACC calls upon the Government of Sierra Leone to
grant unfettered access to documents, materials and
persons of interest to the investigation.
"It may be recalled
that in March this year, at the High Court of Sierra
Leone, the ACC indicted 29 persons on bribery and
other similar corruption related offences dealing
with the trade in timber. This matter is currently
before the Hon. Justice Eku Roberts, JA, presiding,
and seven witnesses have testified on behalf of the
"The ACC therefore wishes to reassure the general
public that it will do its utmost to uphold the
interests of justice.
Members of the
general public are encouraged and embolden, not to
hesitate to come forward with relevant information
that may assist the Commission in the discharge of
But what is still
not clear is whether vice president Sam Sumana will
resign by next Monday, 28 November, 2011, in order
to make way for a thorough investigation into the
Timbergate corruption scandal.
Many in Sierra Leone
believe that president Koroma may well ask the vice
president to step down, pending the outcome of the
investigations and any court trial that will ensue.
supporters and members of the ruling party and
government are accusing the makers of the
documentary of 'setting up' the vice president in
order to discredit him. But a growing number of APC
party loyalists are beginning to disown this
argument as counter-productive - in the country's
battle against corruption, impunity and the rule of
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Teachers in Liberia are now paid on time: Lessons
for Sierra Leone
23 November 2011
Most of Sierra Leone’s schools, colleges and
universities remain closed since last July, because
salaries of teachers and lecturers have not been
paid for many months, and demands for better working
conditions have not been met.
The crisis is not
about to end soon, as inflation continues to rise,
making an already bad economic problem worse for the
Many in Sierra Leone are blaming the government for
its poor management of the public finances, despite
the implementation of what the government itself
believes to be 'sound fiscal and spending tracking'
However, there is
an old adage: A system can only be as good as the
people who manages it and the level of commitment
they put into making sure that the system works.
Critics of the government say that the ministry of
education is one of the most poorly managed
departments in the country; dogged by the lack of
leadership, corruption, and patronage. Many believe
that the incompetence of some senior officials,
including the minister is transforming the ministry
into a mere shadow of what it used to be in the
Sierra Leone like neighbouring Liberia is a nation
that is rebuilding itself with the help of the
international community, after ten years of civil
war that saw the destruction of most of its
institutions and infrastructures. But unfortunately,
that’s where the similarity ends.
Liberia may be a war-torn country like Sierra Leone,
but its people and government seem to have the will
and conviction to want to genuinely rebuild their
education system, recognising that without education
there will be no economic development, and poverty
As a reflection of this commitment, teachers in
Liberia are now paid on time - thanks to a new
system set up by the government with help from IMF
be emulated by neighbouring
In its Report: "IMF
Technical Assistance Finds A Teachable Moment in
Africa", it is clear that with strong leadership,
political will and commitment to change, a nation
can transform its misfortunes and rebuild for the
This is what the Report says:
Stephen George is a public high school principal
worried about the usual things: how students will
fare on upcoming exams, crowded classrooms, and how
to make sure his teachers get paid on time.
George has his work cut out for him. Matilda Newport
High School in Monrovia, Liberia on the west coast
of Africa has all the usual stresses that keep high
school principals around the world awake at night.
The civil war wreaked havoc on daily life for the
almost four million people in the small West African
country. Roads and buildings were destroyed, people
were displaced from their homes, and schools shut
George, the teachers, and students have to contend
with the legacy of nearly 15 years of civil war in
There are 25 year-olds in his grade 9 classes, 15
year-olds who are the head of the family taking care
of themselves and younger siblings after the death
of their parents in the war.
And until recently, it took two weeks for his
teachers to hunt down their pay checks.
"The previous system was very hectic because in
their spare time, you wouldn’t find teachers in
their classrooms; they had to leave school to
collect their checks," said George in an interview
with IMF Survey online.
In rebuilding their lives, Liberians and their
government need practical help to fix their economy
and financial system.
The IMF’s technical assistance draws on experts in
specialized fields such as budget reform, public
financial management, and payment systems, from
around the world. A country needing help sets its
own goals and decides how to achieve them while
drawing on the best practices and experience from
over 100 countries.
To repair the system, the Ministry of Finance,
with guidance from IMF experts, had to do three
- make a list of the
teachers and their banking information
- encourage banks to
open bank accounts for teachers who didn’t have one
- and then take one
check for the whole salary amount to the bank, and
ask the bank to simply deposit each teacher’s pay
checks directly into their account.
George says the new system is much better and works
Rebuilding after war
How a government manages public finances and runs a
smooth financial system is about a lot more than
just collecting taxes, and having a transparent
budget process and payment system: it’s about
governing in an efficient and legitimate way.
"The challenge this government faces is how do you
get away from the ills that led to the war; how do
you prevent the recurrence of the civil conflict we
had in this country? It basically boils down to
governance," said Patrick Sendolo, Head of the
Special Projects Implementation Unit in the Office
of the President, during an interview in his office
Reforms to help improve the economy, as well as
monetary and fiscal policy are key to good
governance, according to Sendolo.
"All of those things come together to ensure that as
much as possible of the government’s revenues are
kept in the coffers to go towards schools,
hospitals, clinics, roads and the kinds of things
that make people happy, and make society the
ultimate beneficiary of the government’s revenues,
and prevent the kinds of conflict we experienced in
this country over the past 15 years," he said.
Civil society organizations are pushing not only for
reforms, but also for more accountability and
transparency in how taxpayer resources are managed.
"Those were some of the reasons why we fought the
war because people felt marginalized not only
politically, but also economically," said Jonathan
Doe Nah, the executive director for the Centre for
Transparency and Accountability in Liberia.
After a long and destructive civil war, Liberia is
slowly recovering. George Kennedy, a reporter and
columnist for the Daily Observer newspaper in
Monrovia likens the experience to being in a closed
house with the heat rising.
"You have the doors closed behind you, and at the
end of the hallway the door opens for you," said
Kennedy. "When you go out, the breeze begins to
touch you; that’s how it feels now after years of
Reforms lead to rising revenues
The IMF’s technical assistance is supported by
several donors including the European Union, Japan,
and Sweden. Their funding has allowed the IMF to
share its deep reservoir of knowledge, experience,
and experts with Liberia so that the country does
not have to start from scratch, but instead can
adopt best practices that work for them.
"One of our technical assistance [projects] that we
all remember because it’s critical to our reform was
the crafting of the public financial management
law," said Augustine Ngafuan, Liberia’s Minister of
Finance, during an interview in his office in
"The IMF fielded a technical advisor for more than a
year who worked with us, discussed the details,
nuances and challenges, and was with us during the
process of the legislative review and approval. What
this has done is put together an overarching frame
of laws for public financial management."
Raising revenues is key to help Liberia rebuild.
Money is needed to build roads, bridges, and
schools, and to fund social programs.
"When the government took over we had revenue of $88
million, and we’re now at $340 plus million U.S.
dollars," said Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, Deputy
Minister in the Revenue Department at the Ministry
"Our modernization strategy has a three-year life
span, and we hope that within the third year we
could have achieved the level of professionalism and
built the integrity of our organization to the point
that Liberia could become an African reference for
the delivery of professional services to tax payers
and for the revenue we collect," she says.
Building local knowledge and expertise
For progress to continue, Liberia needs to build on
its success by sustaining the training and
development passed on through IMF technical
assistance. For example, peer-to-peer exchanges
among African countries with good practices and
experiences to share have helped in the
modernization of Liberia’s shipping ports.
"One of the things we need to work on is to ensure a
robust transfer of knowledge mechanism in technical
assistance," said Ngafuan.
"As I usually tell
our technical assistance advisors, your relevance is
seen by how quickly you make yourself redundant."
Click here to view
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Mapping a new future for Africa
17 November 2011
The Pan African Network at Columbia University’s
School of International and Public Affairs (SPAN) in
partnership with the Institute for African Studies
(IAS) will hold its 5th annual African Diplomatic
Forum (ADF) tomorrow, November 18, 2011 at the
School's Kellogg Centre in New York City.
The ADF is an annual conference that gathers African
diplomats, academics, students and activists to
discuss the continent’s interests and role in
Organizers say this year's theme, "The Blueprint,"
will take into consideration the enduring challenges
of identifying the necessary foundations, developing
the right tools, and drawing a coherent and unified
plan for building a continent of strong institutions
supported by strong civil societies.
"Our aim for this conference and all the
Africa-focused forums we organize is to
promote dialogue, to educate participants
and to elicit thoughts on the direction of
Africa's economic growth and development"
said Modupe Onemola, a Gambian born Nigerian
graduate student and Vice President of SPAN.
"This year we will focus on strategies
needed to move the continent forward, region
by region. ADF 2011 will consist of
panelists from top-level organizations to
grass-root leaders who are dedicated to the
planning of Africa's future for the coming
years," added Ms Onemola
The ADF 2011 is
convened at a crucial time when Africa faces a
serious threat of becoming a conflict prone
continent, considering the recent post electoral
crises in Cote d’Ivoire as well as crises in Egypt,
Tunisia, Somalia and Libya.
Foday Soko Sackor is a SIPA Masters of
International Affairs student – specialising
in Energy Management. He is the elected
President of SPAN 2011 Executive Board.
believes that this year’s forum discussions
of some of the key challenges and
opportunities for African development and
political security "will yield some very
practical ideas and explore issues that are
very much part of current policy
discussions, and could very well inform the
research and career paths of students, as
well as the work of professionals who
In his response to
the question of security ramifications of the recent
NATO bombardment of Libya, Mr. Sackor said; "as for
the issue of Libya, our panel themes are designed to
address the key issues of African political
development and security, but not necessarily to
focus on any one event. Libya is an extremely
pertinent topic. All issues of security and
governance affecting the continent are on the table
and we look forward to the perspectives our
panelists and participants are going to bring to the
Horace Campbell, professor of
African-American studies and political
science at Syracuse University, currently
Visiting Professor - Department of
International Relations, Tsinghua University
in Beijing, China has written extensively on
Africa’s development and security. In an
email response to a request seeking comments
for this story, said; "the idea of building
institutions in Africa cannot move forward
without regard for how current institutions
are integrated into an international
criminal syndicate to plunder Africa."
Prof. Campbell also contends that; "Africans
must be more forceful on the question of war
crimes in Libya. There must be an
international tribunal for investigating the
war crimes. The crimes against civilians and
the indiscriminate bombings of Sirte are
issues that must dominate the question of
African security. Why, we as Africans are
not pushing hard enough is my problem."
During the one day
forum, panel discussions - led by experts from
academia, the public and private sectors, the UN and
civil society, will revolve around the collective
security, aspirations and empowerment of African
people, and how those who take on the role of
stewards for the continent's development can fulfil
their duties to maintain its progress.
ADF 2011 will focus on the following themes;
Democracy in Conflict; ICT, New Media, and
E-Governance in Africa; Role of Women in Political
development; Leadership in Africa – Past, Present
and Future; Institution Building - Enhancing
Efficiency and Effectiveness; BRICS - The New Roles
and Relationships for African Development.
Mr. Ahmed Tidiane Souaré, former Prime Minister of
the Republic of Guinea will deliver this year’s
The event is free and open to the public. Those
interested can click here for more information:
Send an email to:
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London-based SLPP politician branded an APC mole
16 November 2011
The difficult now facing Sierra Leone’s main
opposition SLPP party is the question as to how best
to deal with disgruntled presidential aspirants who
not only lost the presidential candidacy election
early this year, but have also failed to be
appointed by Maada Bio – the presidential candidate
as his running mate for next year’s election.
There are rumours and plenty of evidence of some
supporters of the party defecting and declaring for
the ruling APC party. But few would have imagined a
scenario where any of the losing presidential
aspirants, would openly declare their support for
president Koroma’s APC in retaliation to the party’s
choice of Dr. Kadi Sesay as presidential running
There have been suspicions that Usu Boie Kamara
would not only leave the SLPP after his defeat and
Bio’s failure to appoint him as running mate, but
would join the ruling APC to help president Koroma
win a second term.
But it is now obvious after Usu Boie’s unscheduled
visit to the SLPP party office in Freetown two days
ago, meeting with senior SLPP executives, that he is
going no where, but has instead reaffirmed his
support for his party.
This demonstration of strong loyalty and conviction
by Usu Boie Kamara, which is also being shown by
other aspiring SLPP presidential candidates, augurs
well not only for the party’s survival and chances
of wining the elections in 2012, but the development
of Sierra Leone’s democracy.
is for this reason that news of Kadi
Johnson-Cole’s declaration of support for
president Koroma during a radio interview in
Freetown has been received with dismay, not
only by party loyalists, but political
observers in the country.
Kadi Johnson-Cole went to Freetown in 2010
after living in London for many years as an
active member of SLPP, to campaign and fight
for election as the party’s presidential
But she lost the election and her deposit of
£8,000, managing to poll a single vote.
Following her defeat, she did not resign from the
SLPP. Hence, her defacto defection announced on the
radio has angered many in the party. She is reported
to have said on air that: "Such running mate
appointment makes me feel like an idiot. We chose
Maada Bio because we thought it was the best choice
to unify the party’s south-eastern stronghold, but
the running-mate appointment should have been
someone with strong social background and can
interact with the least people in society."
What is surprising for many though is Kadi
Johnson-Cole’s decision to attack and fight her own
party from within, rather than resigning. This has
prompted accusations of disloyalty, egoism, and
betrayal of trust.
But what is certain is that the SLPP party’s
official response will be swift, and would no doubt
lead to the expulsion of Kadi Johnson-Cole from the
Commenting on this latest development, this is what
the erudite and veteran SLPP politician Dr. Sama
"There is an unfortunate peculiarity in most African
politics; it is that people generally tend to
gravitate to the party in power. This characteristic
is more common especially in Sierra Leone politics.
There are very few stories of people leaving a
ruling party that is, the party in government, and
the party which is in power at a particular moment
"Generally the reverse is the order of the day, with
people leaving an opposition party, especially one
which has lost power, when people, sometimes those
who held prominent positions in the ousted party or
benefited most from their connection to it, suddenly
see god and cross carpet.
"One has seen more examples of this in the present
disposition than at any other time in the politics
of this country. Various excuses are usually given,
such as family pressure, going back to their roots;
they are impressed with the development strides of
the new leadership etc.
"Unfortunately for such characters, they deceive no
one but themselves, because the public easily sees
through their facade of self-seeking deception.
"Take the case of the recent Koinadugu
cross-carpeters. What we do not know about their
character could be placed on my eyelids and I
wouldn’t even blink. One of them had previously held
an executive position from which he was released
following very serious criticisms of his leadership.
"He was given a second opportunity, a new position
which brought him into daily contact with the chief
executive. From that he worked his way to a more
"In his new position he refused to push for the
appointment of a chairman for which there was
provision in the establishment of the commission,
but continued to combine both positions until his
party left office.
"When he presented himself before the Parliamentary
Committee on Appointments, the then opposition (now
today’s government) walked out of the sittings in
protest because of the man’s previous record.
"Today for the sake of bread and butter, he has not
only become a praise singer of the leadership which
is now in power, but he has actually declared for
the party. One could go on with more examples of the
would like draw readers’ attention to last weekend’s
monologue programme on which one of the guests was a
failed SLPP flag bearer aspirant who then declared
for the winner, and had been very close to him no
doubt for obvious reasons.
"But her colleagues and many members of the party
had reservations about her commitment or a secret
agenda. Although she had paid her mandatory
candidature fee of 50 million Leones, people
continued to have their doubts.
"In a recent exclusive interview at her request with
a colleague and me, she volunteered that the other
ladies didn’t trust her and that they felt she was a
mole for the ruling APC party; they therefore tended
to marginalize her and to keep her away from their
"We listened very carefully to her narrative and
then asked some relevant questions after which we
promised to make inquiries and get back to her
either alone or with some of the others.
"In the meantime after a series of consultations,
Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio the opposition
SLPP Presidential candidate, named the former
university don, former minister in the previous SLPP
government of President Tejan-Kabbah and erstwhile
national deputy chairman of the SLPP and Flag bearer
aspirant Dr. Kadi Sesay as his running mate.
"The monologue programme host David Tam-Baryoh in
introducing the lady in question said that he had
been seeking to get her on his programme without
success until then. The timing also coincided with
Maada Bio having named his running mate, or did the
lady come forward in order to vent out her
disappointment at not being the chosen one?
"In answer to Tam-Baryoh, she stated very
categorically that the SLPP Presidential candidate
had erred in choosing Kadi Sesay as his running
mate, stating among other reasons that Kadi was not
a grass roots politician like herself. Then she
admitted that she thought she should have been
chosen rather than the other Kadi.
have no problem with peoples’ egotism and all that,
but what shocked me and has led to the title of
today’s column was Kadi Johnson-Cole’s declaration
that she would prefer the incumbent President Ernest
Bai Koroma to win a second term in next year’s
was shocked; as a member of the SLPP I felt
betrayed, a sentiment that many others have since
expressed to me.
"It was difficult to understand the lady’s position.
Here was a woman who had aspired to the flag bearer
position of the party, here was a woman who had
signed a declaration of her commitment to our party
whatever the outcome of the leadership contest; yes,
and here was this woman now telling us and the
listeners to Tam-Baryoh’s radio programme that she
would prefer President Ernest Bai Koroma of the
opposition APC to get re elected.
"Was that not a confirmation of the accusation
levelled against her that she might well be an APC
agent among us, that is an APC MOLE?
the circumstance I would advise the woman to
voluntarily resign from our party. The alternative
and my preference would be that the party EXPELS her
forthwith. There should be no place for people with
such devilish intentions."
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Sub-Saharan Africa failing to meet the Millennium
Development Goal on Sanitation
A new 'report
Off-track, off-target', released today by
the international charity WaterAid
http://www.wateraid.org, shows that
there are more people in the world today
lacking adequate sanitation services than in
action is taken, nearly all governments in
Sub-Saharan Africa will fail to meet the
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pledge
they made to halve the proportion of people
without sanitation by 2015.
On the current
trajectory, it will take over two centuries for
Sub-Saharan Africa to meet its sanitation MDG
target. What is more, only 20 countries in the
region are on track to meet the water MDG target by
2015. All of this has massive consequences for child
mortality in Africa.
Released a day before
World Toilet Day, the report states that to get the
sanitation and water MDGs back on track, countries
in sub-Saharan Africa need to spend at least 3.5% of
gross domestic product (GDP) on these services. The
report also calls on donor countries to double
global aid flows to water, sanitation and hygiene by
prioritising an additional US$10 billion per year.
The report also
identifies that it is Africa’s poorest people who
are being left behind; poor people in Africa are
five times less likely to have access to adequate
sanitation and over 15 times more likely to practise
open defecation than Africa’s rich. According to
WaterAid, governments should tackle this inequity
through better targeting of water and sanitation
resources and services to the poor.
The WaterAid report
highlights that the shortfall in water and
sanitation services costs Sub-Saharan African
countries around 5% of GDP each year ($47.7 billion
in 2009), more than is provided in development aid
to the entire continent ($47.6 billion in 2009).
In a coordinated
move, an international group of 34 female economists
have also written an open letter to the leaders of
eleven donor and developing country governments, to
draw attention to the international water and
sanitation crisis. In it they state:
"On the day you read
this letter, 4,000 more children under five will die
due to diseases brought about through unsafe water
and poor sanitation. This equates to more child
deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined,
making it the biggest child killer in Sub-Saharan
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation
generates on average an $8 return; making it
the deal that will deliver for billions of
the poorest people across the globe. Barbara
Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:
"Governments in both
donor and developing countries have it in their
power to save hundreds of thousands of children’s
lives every year by increasing what they spend on
water and sanitation. Investments in these basic
services are engines of economic growth and
prosperity in developing countries, but unless we
grasp this opportunity we will be failing the
millions of poor people whose health, livelihoods
and opportunities suffer because they lack these
off-target report is being published on the day
WaterAid launches the Water Works campaign to urge
governments across the world to do more to tackle
the water and sanitation crisis. The campaign aims
to show world leaders that taps and toilets are
simple, effective and affordable, and that investing
in these basic human needs is an urgent priority.
On World Toilet Day
WaterAid will also join other members of the End
Water Poverty campaign in 50 coordinated 'Crisis
Talk' events in over 20 countries where local groups
will be meeting with politicians to discuss the
water and sanitation crisis.
In Tanzania, Crisis
Talk events are being organised to coincide with the
local government budgeting cycle; in the UK,
WaterAid’s local supporter groups are meeting with
their Members of Parliament; in Bangladesh regional
events will be held where the public affected by
poor water and sanitation provision will hold
members of parliament to account.
Click here to read
the full Report:
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to boost business opportunities in Nigeria’s fast
growing ICT sector
The growth of the
Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)
sector is at an all-time high in Africa and around
the world. Mobile communications markets in Nigeria,
Cameroon and the Ivory Coast alone earned combined
revenue of $8.6 billion in 2009, according to
business research and consulting firm Frost &
Sullivan. This is estimated to reach $12.6 billion
"There are a lot of
growth opportunities in both the business and ICT
sectors in Nigeria," said Protea Hirschel, ICT
industry analyst at Frost and Sullivan, in a recent
statement. "Broadband growth alone stands at 23%
over the next six or seven years."
W.AFRI-TEL, the West African Telecom
Exhibition, which takes place from 8 to 10
May 2012 at the Eko Hotel fair ground in
Lagos, Nigeria, will facilitate business
opportunities in this booming sector,
enabling exhibitors to gain access to the
massive Nigerian telecom market that
contains over 80 million mobile subscribers.
its 11th year, W.AFRI-TEL is the only event of its
kind in the region and the flagship event for the
ICT sector. Collins Onuegbu,
CEO of IT solutions company Signal Alliance, is also
optimistic about the sector’s future.
"Nigeria’s economy is
growing by 7% annually while other countries are
struggling, and one of the growth drivers is
technology. There are numerous opportunities in
software, telecoms and all forms of infrastructure,
and I believe the Nigerian economy must look to the
ICT sector for it to develop and grow in the near
future," he said.
Government is also committed to the growth of the
sector. Minister of Communications and Technology,
Mrs Omobola Johnson, recently confirmed the newly
established ministry will deliver on its mandate to
provide robust and efficient ICT infrastructure in
optimising communications infrastructure in the area
of digital content, domestic software applications,
the delivery of private and public services,
e-business and e-government, and promoting the use
of ICT technology in all spheres of life," she
"The purpose of this
development is to deploy information and
communication technology to drive transparency in
government, improve the quality and
cost-effectiveness of public service delivery and
increase the contribution of the ICT industry to the
GDP," continued Johnson.
Managing Director of Exhibition Management Services,
organisers of the expo, says the potential for
growing Nigeria’s ICT sector – the largest telecom
market in Africa – is undisputed and largely
market possesses tremendous growth potential,
considering that the penetration rate was just 57%
at the end of 2010," said Thomson.
improving mobile infrastructure and intense
competition among mobile operators, expectations are
that the number of mobile subscribers will grow at a
compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 15%
during 2011 to 2014, with a penetration rate
exceeding 88% by the end of 2014."
Nigeria accounts for
16% of the continent’s mobile subscriptions.
"As the only show of
its kind in the region, W.AFRI-TEL has
revolutionised Nigeria's telecoms sector,” says
Thomson. "The expo offers a complete
business-to-business matrix attracting exhibitors
and trade visitors from Africa and abroad. It’s an
exciting opportunity for the entire African telecom
industry to come together and showcase their
products to the world."
W.Afri-Tel Expo will
serve up numerous networking opportunities for
participants and act as a meeting ground for the
entire industry. Showcasing the latest ICT
technology and business solutions on offer makes
this expo a must for traders looking for future
The 2012 W.AFRI-TEL
will run alongside a newly-introduced trade expo -
the West African International Trade Exhibition for
Retail Products (WAITEX). Modelled on the highly
successful Southern African International Trade
Exhibition (SAITEX) held in Johannesburg annually
for the last 18 years, the show provides a platform
for exhibitors from around the world to access the
West African market.
endorsed by the Association of Telecommunications
Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
For more information on W.AFRI-TEL, contact John
Thomson of Exhibition Management Services. Tel: +27
11 783-7250, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Back top of page
"Why I chose Dr. Kadi Sesay as my 2012 elections
months of procrastinating and rancour,
Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP party will
today celebrate the appointment of former
trade and industry minister - Dr. Kadi Sesay,
as its 2012 presidential election running
in Port Loko in the north of the country –
the ancestral town of Dr. Sesay, the
ceremony is expected to attract thousands of
party supporters and well wishers of Dr.
Kadi Sesay, who is also well known as a
'gender rights and democracy activitist'
throughout Sierra Leone.
Sesay’s appointment alongside the party’s
elected presidential candidate – Julius
Maada Bio, does not come as a surprise. The
SLPP is keen to present itself to the
electorate as a credible and progressive
party, putting 'equality of opportunity and
fairness' at the heart of its vision for
Sierra Leone’s development.
Although critics of
SLPP have denounced her decision to accept the
appointment, the Newstime Africa Newspaper describes
Dr. Sesay as: "An outstanding public servant, who
has managed to shy away from controversies that
would damage her hard-earned reputation. It is
extremely difficult for a politician in Africa to
maintain a dignified record in office for a long
period of time, but this once University professor
has been a shining example of excellence in public
The empowerment of
women in a society that economically and socially
cannot do without its women folk – yet struggles to
respect the equality of rights of women and girls,
will play a much bigger role in the country’s
Changes in the
country’s demography show women outnumbering men
significantly, and this trend is set to continue,
with major implications for public policy in Sierra
But is this the
reason why presidential candidate - Julius Maada Bio
decided to appoint Dr. Sesay as his running mate in
next year’s elections taking place on 17 November?
Speaking in a
national radio broadcast two days ago, this is what
he told the people of Sierra Leone:
"Today I have the
honour and pleasure to name my Running Mate for the
Presidential election slated for 2012.
is no other than Hon. Dr. Kadi Sesay. Kadi
is a Temne and was born in Rotifunk, Moyamba
District. Both of her parents hailed from
Port Loko District and came from a strong
is a household name in Sierra Leone. It
means many things to many people. In
politics, she is commonly referred to as the
Iron Lady of the SLPP, the peace maker, the
consensus builder etc, etc. Outside of
politics, Kadi is a mother, a policy advisor
and a teacher.
"In all she
has given 30 years of dedicated service to
the country in the field of teaching,
leading democracy and peace building
initiatives, and managing the state at
ministerial and party political levels. By
appointing Kadi, I believe I am fulfilling
many promises at once:
"First and foremost,
judging by her track record, Kadi deserves the
appointment in her own right as a person who has
distinguished herself in her professional calling
and even beyond.
"Secondly, she is a
woman. Indeed, a woman of humility, respect,
honesty, commitment and self-worth. By this
appointment she becomes the first Sierra Leone woman
to rise almost to the pinnacle of leadership in the
"The women of Sierra
Leone have been asking for a quota of 30 per cent
participation in public life. I sincerely believe
they deserve more than that and my Party and I are
committed to enhancing the status of women in this
"Thirdly, she is not
only a woman; she is a woman from a traditional and
humble home in the North. By this appointment, she
is not only a trail setter; she is also a role model
and a symbol of hope especially for the girl child.
"Fourthly, Kadi is
from the North-West so to speak just as I am from
the South-East. Forging a sense of unity and destiny
between the peoples of the South-East and North-West
so that they can work together and gel together as
one nation remains the cardinal aspiration of the
SLPP as symbolized in the motto “One Country, One
"Fifthly and lastly,
in the course of my campaign for the position of
Flag Bearer of the SLPP, I promised not only the
people of the North but those of Port Loko District
in particular that my Running Mate shall come from
that District. Of course, the scenario then was
"Kadi was an aspirant
for the position of Flag Bearer while Dr. Abass
Bundu, also from the District, was one of my
strongest supporters in my bid for the position of
Flag Bearer. I pay him the highest tribute for
showing selflessness, understanding and
presidential candidate also told the nation:
"Today we mark yet
another milestone in the political development of
the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its
historic relationship with the Northern Region. As
you may be aware, the SLPP was the product of an
amalgamation of various interest groups from both
the then Colony and Protectorate.
"The Party also
brought together many great personalities from every
corner of Sierra Leone to think and act as one. From
the North were such eminent political figures as
Amadu Wurie of Gbinti, Y.D. Sesay of Batkanu, Kande
Bureh and Siaka Stevens.
"In their company was
a huge retinue of Paramount Chiefs the most notable
being Adikali Modu and Bai Koblo Pathbana, Bai
Shebora Komkanda and Kompa Yek of Port Loko
District; Bai Farama Tass and Bai Shebora Yumkella
of Kambia District; Almamy Sorie Conteh of Tonkolili;
Bai Lansana Marah of Koinadugu; and P.C. Alimamy
Dura of Bombali District.
"The seed all of
these great men sowed together germinated and
blossomed throughout the length and breadth of
Sierra Leone in ways they themselves could hardly
have imagined – the seed of unity, freedom and
equality of opportunity for all Sierra Leoneans.
"These are the great
values that the SLPP stands for.
"To the Founding
Fathers and many other fallen heroes who contributed
to the development and growth of the SLPP in the
North, I pay special tribute."
With all eyes now set
on the 2012 presidential, parliamentary, chieftaincy
and local elections, Bio is fully aware of the tough
challenges ahead for his SLPP party, which just four
years ago lost by a narrow margin to president
Koroma’s All Peoples Congress party - but not after
a re-run of the election and the opposition PMDC
entering into a coalition with president Koroma.
But Bio appears
confident. "Fellow Sierra Leoneans, The stage is
thus set for the SLPP to bounce back to power in
2012. I know you will make this certain by voting
massively for the SLPP and yours truly," he told the
people of Sierra Leone, as he ended his nationwide
Back top of page
Sierra Leonean head of Canadian Intelligence
Review Board resigns
Porter, who until yesterday was the Chairman
of Canada’s intelligence Review Board
has tendered his resignation to the Prime
Minister, following Newspaper report of his
'undeclared financial dealings' and external
was trying to broker a $120 Million finance
package with an Israeli businessman and the
Russian government, on behalf of president
Koroma of Sierra Leone.
recently honoured by president Koroma with
the title of Ambassador Plenipotentiary of
It is not certain
whether Dr. Porter will also lose his other
lucrative public sector positions in Canada as a
result of this fiasco. He is the head of one of
Canada's largest health care providers -
McGill University Health Centre.
News of his
disappointing to many Sierra Leoneans and
expected, was reported
yesterday by the Canadian National Post, which broke
the story days ago about Dr. Porter’s financial
affairs many regard as "unbecoming of the head of a
Canadian government intelligence agency".
Reporting for the
Canadian National Post, this is what Kathryn Blaze
Carlson and Brian Hutchinson said:
Arthur Porter, the
beleaguered chair of Canada’s spy review board, has
resigned amid revelations of his business dealings
with a notorious international lobbyist.
"Dr. Porter has
submitted his resignation to me, and I have accepted
it, effective immediately," Prime Minister Stephen
Harper said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Porter was the
federally appointed chairman of Canada’s Security
and Intelligence Review Committee, which reviews the
activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service, but has offered his resignation after the
National Post first reported this week Dr. Porter
had wired $200,000 in personal funds to Ari Ben-Menashe,
a Montreal-based businessman who often acts as a
middleman in negotiations between the Russian
Federation and developing countries.
In June 2010, Dr.
Porter signed a consultancy agreement with Mr.
Ben-Menashe’s private company, which obliged Mr.
Ben-Menashe to secure a $US 120-million grant from
Russia for “infrastructure development in Sierra
Leone” managed by Dr. Porter’s own company, Africa
Dr. Porter has mining
stakes in Sierra Leone, a country battered by years
of war and corruption, and was named by the
president of the country to the position of
Ambassador Plenipotentiary — a rare title defined as
someone with authority to represent a head of state.
then, as to whether Mr. Porter, was in a conflict of
interest, whether by working with an international
lobbyist on private business dealings outside Canada
or by virtue of his plenipotentiary title with a
"(The latter) is a
complete conflict of interest and it raises the
spectre of the potential for foreign influence in
Canadian affairs — sensitive Canadian affairs,"
Wesley Wark, a specialist in the history of
intelligence services and national security policy
at the University of Toronto, said shortly before
Mr. Harper’s announcement.
"The simple fact that
someone is on the one hand serving in a very
sensitive Canadian position, and on the other hand
holds an appointment — however honorific — for a
foreign government, is just not on."
Dr. Porter, who was
appointed to the committee in 2008 and then promoted
to chair last September, told the National Post
earlier this week he was not aware of Mr.
Ben-Menashe’s background, which includes
multimillion-dollar deals with Zimbabwean strongman
Mr. Ben-Menashe was
also arrested in the United States in 1999 and
charged with illegally attempting to sell three
military transport airplanes to Iran. He went to
trial and was acquitted in 1990.
Peter St. John, a
security and terrorism expert at the University of
Manitoba who helped establish the spy review board
back in 1984, said board members have to "stay
squeaky clean" given the sensitive nature of the
According to the committee, members have "access to
all information held by CSIS, no matter how highly
classified that information may be," with the
exception of federal Cabinet secrets.
"This is a very
responsible position that deals with Canada’s
intelligence," Prof. St. John said. "You have access
to an extraordinary amount of information at high
levels of secrecy. You have to be very discrete, and
you have to have your hands clean, all the time."
Mr. Harper said a
process for replacing the chair will begin
"shortly", and said Carol Skelton — a current board
member — will act as chair until a new one is
"I would like to
thank Dr. Porter for his service on the Security
Intelligence Review Committee and to his country,"
Mr. Harper said in a statement.
Back top of page
Ruling APC party MPs
vote of no confidence on Deputy Speaker of
parliament - Chukuma Johnson
10 November 2011
With a parliamentary majority of more than
two-thirds, it should be expected that an election
held in the wells of Sierra Leone’s parliament for
the position of deputy speaker, would be easily won
by the ruling APC party's incumbent candidate -
Chukuma Johnson. He did not succeed, after failing
to win the confidence of his own party colleagues.
Chukuma Johnson has served as deputy speaker of
parliament for over four years and needed to poll a
two-thirds majority to be able to continue to serve
as deputy speaker.
But political analysts say that he has fallen out of
favour with many of his APC parliamentary
colleagues, who regard him as arrogant and a thorn
in their sides in the fight against corruption.
It is understood that Chukuma Johnson was recently
responsible for a parliamentary committee's decision
to suspend the funding of the country’s National
Revenue Authority (NRA), whilst president Koroma was
visiting Germany, to the annoyance of DFID
The incumbent deputy speaker of the House - Chukuma
Johnson, was contesting his parliamentary job
against the popular opposition SLPP political
activist - Honourable Bernadette Lahai, who is said
to have polled 38 votes to Chukuma’s 42 votes. A
majority of 82 is required.
What is evidently clear is that the majority of
ruling APC MPs sitting in parliament did not vote
for their political ally - Chukuma Johnson.
In the absence of an outright majority, the Speaker
of parliament - Abel Stronge has decided to hold
another election in accordance with the country’s
It is not understood whether president Koroma will
now urge the party’s whip in parliament to line up
his parliamentary MPs to vote for deputy speaker
Johnson at the next polling.
A win by the opposition SLPP's
Honourable Bernadette Lahai,
will most certainly spell a huge morale victory for
the SLPP party in a parliament that is dominated and
controlled by the ruling APC MPs.
Back top of page
to end uncertainty over choice of 2012 presidential
election running mate
10 November 2011
Unconfirmed reports from Freetown say that the
opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party will name its
2012 presidential election running mate tomorrow
Friday, 11 November, at the party's office in
As expected, Dr. Kadi Sesay is poised to be
named alongside the elected presidential
candidate – Julius Maada Bio.
Dr. Sesay was one of the 19 candidates who
fought in the party’s leadership election
early this year, but lost comprehensively to
the former military strongman – Maada Bio.
Although many in the party have been
expecting Maada Bio to name Usu Bio Kamara
as his running mate, what is obvious is that
in arriving at what must have been a very
difficult decision for Bio, the most
important question in his mind would have
"which of the contenders will help maximise
the party's chances of winning the general elections
slated for November 2012?"
Given the party’s
very strong and deep-rooted foundation in the
southern half of the country, it is absolutely
crucial that Bio appoints a running mate of northern
and western (Freetown) origin, for the party to have
any chance of winning the 2012 elections.
There are at least five contenders for the position
of SLPP presidential running mate: Usu Boi Kamara,
John Ernest Leigh, Kadi Sesay, Abbass Bundu, and
Alpha Wurie, all of whom had lost the leadership
election – but had vowed to stay in the party to
help win the 2012 elections.
The demographic structure of Sierra Leone
shows that over two-thirds of the country’s
population are under the age of 35 years and
the majority are women.
It is these two factors, in addition to the
regional-ethnic balance that would most
seriously task the mind and decision process
of Maada Bio in the next twenty-four hours,
prior to announcing the name of his 2012
elections running mate.
Irrespective of whose
name is drawn out of the hat, that decision is bound
to cause ripples across the deep fault lines opened
up at the recent leadership election.
But the fact remains that Dr. Kadi Sesay is
the best option, if the party’s objective is
to galvanise those fault lines and appeal to
women voters across the country - advocating
for equal rights and the elevation of women
into leadership through 'affirmative
Kadi Sesay is a northerner with a strong
political base in the country’s capital –
Freetown, and a household name that
resonates among the female constituents both
in Freetown and the north of the country.
She is a former
lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone, and a
Trade and Industry Minister in the Kabbah led SLPP
government, which was defeated by Ernest Koroma’s
APC at the 2007 polls.
Few Sierra Leoneans would dispute her political
experience and professional credentials.
With the naming of the SLPP's 2012 presidential
election running mate tomorrow, one thing is certain
apart from ending months of speculation: the party
can now get on with the serious business of
appointing its shadow cabinet or campaign team -
responsible for drafting the party's 2012 elections
manifesto, as the huge task of fund raising unfolds.
Koroma's government fast running out of policy ideas
and credible initiatives aimed at tackling poverty
and joblessness in the country, inflation crippling
every household; many in Sierra Leone - especially
the youth, would welcome tomorrow's announcement at
the SLPP party office in Freetown.
Back top of page
Why is the
Anti-Corruption Commission reluctant to investigate
the Freetown City Council?
8 November 2011
When critics of the Koroma led government castigate
the president for failing to fully put his zero
tolerance for corruption to a test, they are quickly
labelled as detractors. Not only has the president
failed in curbing corruption in high places, but is
stubbornly refusing to ensure that the
Anti-Corruption Commission takes its investigation
wherever evidence of financial malfeasance and
Recent Auditor General’s Reports have shown alarming
levels of misappropriation of funds across various
local authorities in the country – totalling
hundreds of billions of Leones, and the Freetown
City Council is no exception.
For the last two consecutive years, the
Mayor - Herbert George-Williams, management
and elected Councillors of the Freetown City
Council, have faced huge difficulty
balancing the Council’s Accounts, as tax
receipts decline amid rising expenditure and
allegations of corruption.
Since 2008, the management of the Council
has relied on central government subventions
in order to meet the costs of salaries.
Local service provision - such as cleaning
of the city suffers in consequence, as
street cleaners and refuse collectors resort
to frequent industrial actions – including
'work to rule', with growing mountains of
uncollected refuse now becoming a major part
of the city’s landmark.
The 2009 report of the country’s Auditor
General shows a whopping Le710, 500,000
missing from the Council’s accounts.
The Mayor and senior management
have been accused of misappropriation and misuse of
public funds, prompting the country’s parliamentary
committee responsible for public accounts oversight
to carry out an investigation into the allegations.
Some of the allegations of corruption levied
against the Mayor, elected Councillors and
senior management of the Council include:
Failure to implement procurement regulations
according to law.
"It was observed that an amount to the tune
of Le183,678,000 relating to Consultancy
Services for the drawings of structures,
Site Clearance etc., was given to three
different contractors without the knowledge
of the Procurement Unit, thereby
demonstrating the procurement procedures
were not adhered to, and the contract
agreement was not produced for inspection."
"The sum of Le959, 298,890 was discovered
from among the contractors plus additional
payment made with respect to the Sewa Ground
Market, but was not stated in the financial
"Le46,273,976.60 were deducted from suppliers but
there was no NRA receipts to prove whether those
monies were submitted to NRA."
Gross negligence and failure to keep proper records
in accordance with the rules laid down by the
"Examination of payment vouchers
presented for audit inspection revealed that
payments made totalling Le1,069,139,935.25 were
without the relevant supporting documents; receipts,
local purchase orders, and that payments were made
by Council amounting to Le770,634,405.05 for which
payment vouchers were not presented for audit
City Council Chief Administrator - Bowenson
"The sum of Le213,098,064 was
disbursed by the council not having the signature of
neither the Chief Administrator nor the Treasurer.
The sum of Le164,910,000 was paid in respect of
'operation sweep' revenue collection drive, and
other related activities, but there was no signature
of the recipient of the money."
Although the parliamentary
public accounts committee is investigating
those corruption allegations, many in the
country are dumbfounded as to why the
Anti-Corruption Commission has not stepped
in to carry out its own investigations as
required by Law.
With the dismal failure of
the Anti-Corruption Commission to pursue and
successfully convict several high profile
officials of the government for corruption,
observers say that it is unlikely the
president will authorise an ACC
investigation into the affairs of the
Freetown City Council.
The Mayor of Freetown who himself
was recently named in a major Report into political
violence in Freetown, is a close friend of
president Koroma and a key player in the ruling APC
Political observers believe that
the mayor is "one of the president's sacred cows".
Back top of page
Standard Bank loans African Minerals
to speed up iron
ore production in Sierra Leone
5 November 2011
yesterday announced that it has entered into a two
five-year loan deal totalling $130 Million with
African Minerals Ltd's (AML), to help speed up
development of the company’s first phase Tonkolili
iron ore project in Sierra Leone.
This loan deal Standard Bank says "will help boost
the Sierra Leone economy".
According to Standard Bank, the $130 Million loan is
in two parts: $40 Million made out to a local South
African manufacturer - RRL Grindrod, which is part
of the JSE listed Grindrod Group - to supply 20
locomotives on lease to African Minerals. That
portion of the loan was insured by the Export Credit
Insurance Corporation of South Africa.
The second tranche loan of $90 Million, was given
directly to African Minerals, so as to purchase ore
transporting wagons and other mining equipment.
"The locomotives and wagons will be used to haul
iron ore along a 200km rail line, of which 130km has
been newly constructed in the past 10 months,
linking the mine in the Tonkolili district in
northern Sierra Leone to the port of Pepel. Under
Phase 1, up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore a year
will be exported. Sierra Leone becomes the third
African country to produce significant volumes of
iron ore after South Africa and Mauritania," says
Conservative estimates put the potential revenue
to be generated by Phase 1 of the project for Sierra
Leone and AML at about $2 Billion a year.
Sierra Leone holds some of the largest iron ore
reserves in Africa. Tonkolili's resources are over
12-billion tons. However, to date the country has
been unable to benefit fully from this resource
because of insufficient rail and port capacity to
transport the ore from the mines to export markets.
Iron ore extraction is widely seen as one of the
engines that will drive the reconstruction of Sierra
Leone's economy, which had been ravaged by years of
David Humphrey, Standard Bank's Director for
Structured Asset Finance and Leasing, says the
funding is significant as the locomotives and rail
infrastructure upgrade will enable Sierra Leone to
resume iron ore exports after they were halted about
25 years ago.
"Sierra Leone is a country that has
received marginal foreign direct investment,
and we are delighted that by supporting our
clients, RRL Grindrod and AML, Standard Bank
has been able to inject a substantial sum
into Sierra Leone, more than it has received
in the past from traditional donor agencies.
By being able to fund the rolling stock for
the newly completed rail line between
Tonkolili and the port means we have been
able to play a major part in Sierra Leone's
ability to export iron ore again," says
Humphrey, the increased exports will have a strong
multiplier effect on the Sierra Leone economy as the
country will benefit from new jobs, taxes and
"We see this loan as an important catalyst for
Sierra Leone's economic growth. Mining and its
associated infrastructure is a sector where Standard
Bank has globally recognised expertise. This
transaction again demonstrates our capabilities to
provide such funding for the right projects across
borders, even in countries where up to now we do
have not had a direct presence. The investment is
also a strong example of how Standard Bank supports
projects that help unlock Africa's wealth and move
the continent forward," says Humphrey.
He also said that; "There is a number of major
infrastructure projects underway or planned right
across the continent and we are confident that
Standard Bank can help in the financing of these
African Minerals made its first shipment of iron ore
from Sierra Leone to China last week.
Back top of page
President Koroma assist 754 Pilgrims in Mecca
Alhaji M.B. Jalloh - Information Attaché, Saudi
Head of the
Sierra Leone 2011 Hajj Mission to Mecca,
yesterday handed President Ernest Bai
Koroma’s charity payment of US$100 to
each of the 754 Sierra Leonean pilgrims
performing this year’s Muslim pilgrimage in
The money is to help pay for
the lamb needed to perform
Kargbo who is also the Special Assistant to
the President on Political Affairs, said the
gesture was as a result of a request made to
the President by the pilgrims, shortly
before they left Sierra Leone last month.
In a ceremony held in
downtown Mecca, the Hajj Mission Chief told the
pilgrims that the President appreciates Islam, and
has been able to cut across religious and tribal
barriers in the country, since his assumption of
office in 2007.
gesture, various speakers prayed for the President’s
continued good health, God’s guidance and
sustainable strength to enable him achieve his set
goals. They also prayed for sustainable peace and
prosperity in Sierra Leone.
Most of the
recipients said that they will continue to
stand behind President Ernest Bai Koroma at
all times. "For some of us, no matter what,
we will stand by him day and night and at
said that President Koroma has never let
Muslims down, as he is always at the
forefront of all their wishes and
"This is the
first time Sierra Leone has experienced such
a positive stance towards the development of
Islam, especially as it is from a leader
with a different religious background," they
Many of the
pilgrims interviewed were very much
overwhelmed by the gesture.
The ceremony was
witnessed by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi
Arabia and Permanent Representative to the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), H.E
Wusu Munu and other high profile dignitaries
currently taking part in the Hajj rituals - Sierra
Leone’s Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Osman F. Yassaneh,
Deputy Leader of Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Soufian
Kargbo and the Deputy Mayor of Freetown, Gibril I.
of the sacrificial Lamb is one of the Hajj
rituals which pilgrims offer on the 10th day
of the Hajj Month.
the Hajj ministry says in a statement last
night that many of the 2.5 million pilgrims
for this year’s pilgrimage will leave for
the Mina valley, located five km east of
Mecca, on Thursday evening in preparation
for the annual event, which culminates in
the standing at Arafat on Saturday, 5th
Back top of page
Gambia is making important progress in its fight
against poverty" – says IMF
2 November 2011
With presidential election slated for 24 November,
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to the
Gambia, led by Mr. David Dunn ended its visit
yesterday, after two weeks of intensive talks with
various stakeholders and government officials to
review economic progress.
The economy will dominate debate in the
coming weeks, as Gambians struggle to cope
with the global economic downturn and its
effect on the country’s tourism industry.
According to BBC News Africa: "President
Yahya Jammeh is standing for re-election but
said he had no plans to campaign as his
victory was "a foregone conclusion" and only
God could remove him from power. Opposition
parties said in October 2011 that they had
failed to forge an alliance that might have
improved their chances of unseating the
The IMF team assessed
the government’s efforts in managing its financial
and exchange rate policies, in line with Article IV
of its charter, and at the end of its review issued
the following statement:
"Over the past few years, The Gambian economy has
achieved robust growth, despite the prolonged global
economic crisis. The Gambia’s Gross domestic product
(GDP) grew by around 6½ percent a year during
2008-2010, driven mainly by agriculture.
"Tourism and remittances, however, were hit hard by
the global crisis. This year, although tourism has
begun to show signs of recovery, GDP growth is
projected to slow down slightly (to about 5½
percent), as poor weather conditions in some areas
of the country have harmed crop production.
"The 12-month inflation rate has dipped to about 4
percent in recent months and is projected to remain
below 5 percent for 2011 as a whole. Gross
international reserves remain at a comfortable level
at just under 5 months of imports.
"The Gambia, however, continues to face a number of
challenges, notably a heavy debt burden. In
particular, large fiscal deficits in recent years
led to a surge in domestic debt, most of which
consists of short-term T-bills that must be
regularly re-financed. Interest on domestic debt is
on the rise and now consumes 18½ percent of
government revenues. Including obligations on
external debt, interest consumes 22½ percent of
"To address the high cost and risks of this debt,
the government has taken bold actions to curb new
domestic borrowing. Indeed, the mission commends the
government for exercising strong fiscal discipline
so far this year—an election year—despite further
"By strictly controlling spending, new domestic
borrowing is on track to be just over 2½ percent of
GDP this year, down from about 4½ percent of GDP in
2010. This improved performance has contributed to
lower inflation and a drop in T-bill yields (by
about 3 percentage points since late last year)
"The government aims to continue making progress on
easing its debt burden, by gradually reducing new
domestic borrowing to about ½ percent of GDP by
2014. The government will also restrict external
borrowing to concessional loans with soft terms.
"The mission commends the government for observing
strict limits on borrowing from the CBG, including
the elimination of its overdrafts. This has allowed
the CBG to implement a more consistent and proactive
monetary policy. At last week’s meeting of the
Monetary Policy Committee, the CBG lowered its
policy interest rate for the first time in 2011, by
1 percentage point, to 14 percent.
"If inflation remains subdued, there may be scope
for further cuts in the policy rate going forward.
"Falling tax revenues is a major concern. Tax
revenues (relative to GDP) have fallen steadily
since 2007, and are down to less than 12½ percent of
GDP in 2011 (3½ percentage points of GDP below their
peak in 2007). At the same time, the tax base has
eroded substantially, while the remaining taxpayers
face high tax rates.
"To improve this situation and restore revenues, the
IMF mission strongly encourages the government to
consider a comprehensive tax reform over the next
few years, building upon the planned introduction of
a value-added tax (VAT). Simplification would
facilitate tax compliance, and major improvements in
tax administration by the Gambia Revenue Authority
(GRA) would be essential.
"The mission recommends that government immediately
implement fully its fuel pricing formula, including
a specific excise tax, and rigorously adhere to the
monthly price adjustments going forward. Implicit
fuel subsidies led to substantial tax revenue
losses, which could have been used for other
priority programs that more directly benefit the
"The IMF mission observes that The Gambia’s banking
system as a whole is well capitalized and liquid.
Still, the CBG must remain vigilant with its
supervision of the system. Banks’ nonperforming
loans have begun to fall, but they are still high,
and some banks continue to incur losses. We welcome
the CBG’s ongoing efforts to build capacity to
conduct stress testing for the banking system. The
IMF will continue to support this effort with
technical assistance. The IMF mission also commends
the CBG for taking immediate steps to improve the
performance of the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB),
which started operating last year.
"To benefit from lower interest rates, it is
important that borrowers establish good credit
histories. The CRB plays a central role in informing
banks about creditworthy clients.
"The Gambia is making important progress in its
fight against poverty, particularly in the areas of
education and some health indicators. Progress on
reducing income poverty is also anticipated from the
inclusiveness of the strong growth of agriculture in
"The government plans to build on this progress with
the launching in the coming months of the Programme
for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE)
2012-15. The mission commends the authorities for
the serious effort in the preparation of the PAGE.
"However, given the government’s heavy debt burden
and falling tax revenues, financing the PAGE faces
some major challenges. To ensure that scarce
resources are used effectively, the mission
encourages the government to continue its ongoing
progress on public financial management and
transparency, especially in the budget process.
"Although there is some scope for additional
borrowing on concessional terms, greater assistance
from donor grants would be most welcomed. Private
sector participation is also an important
option—particularly in the energy sector—but it is
critical that proper institutional arrangements are
"In the energy sector, despite some steps underway,
NAWEC lacks financial stability and regulatory
issues, such as cost recovery and automatic
cost-of-fuel adjustments in electricity tariffs,
need to be resolved. In this regard, the mission
urges the government to work together with the World
Bank to put in place an effective energy strategy as
soon as possible.
"The mission commends the authorities for preparing
a budget policy paper for the 2012 budget and the
submission of the audited 2007 government accounts
to the National Assembly on October 31, 2011.
"To reduce the current backlog, it is expected that
the audited accounts for subsequent years will be
prepared and submitted to the National Assembly at
an accelerated pace.
"In 2012, the priority areas of public financial
management include improving transparency in the
budget process, strengthening budget execution, and
building capacity in internal and external audit
"The mission wishes to express its gratitude to the
Gambian authorities for their hospitality and the
candid and constructive spirit in which the
discussions were held. The Executive Board of the
IMF is expected to discuss the report of the mission
in January 2012."
The mission met with Minister of Finance and
Economic Affairs Mambury Njie, Governor of the
Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) Amadou Colley and
other senior officials of the government and the
It also met representatives of the National
Assembly, political parties, the business community,
civil society, labor unions, students, and The
Gambia's development partners.
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