Bridging Sierra Leone’s skills gap: Participation of diasporans in the country’s development

Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow – The Netherlands

17 January 2012

It is a well-known and irrefutable fact that Mama Salone needs more intelligent and dedicated Sierra Leonean brains in order to develop. In most cases, however, many of these brains are contributing to the development of other countries.

I can gather from the “debate” taking place on various social media like Facebook, that every Sierra Leonean living abroad, means well for Sierra Leone.

But quite honestly, if we have such good intentions for the development of Sierra Leone, then we should be prepared to sacrifice some of our time, expertise and resources in order to help Sierra Leone develop.

I am not against exchanging political blows on social media like Face book – “APC-this, APC-that or SLPP-this, SLPP-that”. What I find difficult to understand is the time spent  dealing political blows to one another on Face book, whilst not even one percent of the population of Sierra Leone has access to Face book to read those debates.

It will help Sierra Leone a lot to develop, if we in the diaspora could sacrifice our jobs abroad by taking unpaid leave to do volunteering in Sierra Leone – in every sector.

Let doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals go and do voluntary jobs in even the remotest party of Sierra Leone. By doing so we will know the real problems the people are facing instead of imposing ourselves on the people when our political parties come to power.

When APC came to power, they opened a diaspora office in Sierra Leone with the aim of attracting people in the Diaspora help contribute to the development of Sierra Leone.

This institution has failed to achieve its desired aim because it has been politicized. It is being used to compensate people who financially helped APC come to power.

Moreover, most of the “invited diasporans” failed to perform because they didn’t have the required qualifications and skills. In addition the “home-based” professionals do not accept them because they regard them as an imposition on them, given the fact that most of them had lived abroad for decades and not gone through the suffering that was the order of the day during the civil war.

A future SLPP government will suffer similar fate if it does not learn from the mistakes made by APC regarding diaspora professionals. An imposition of diaspora professionals on the people of Sierra Leone will lead to underperformance of a future SLPP government. I advise that supporters of SLPP living abroad start to contribute to the development of Sierra Leone now, instead of waiting for their party to come to power.

The author, upon graduation from law school in 2008, turned down a well-paid job and chose to work in Sierra Leone as a Human Rights/Policy Expert. He believes that until the people are conversant with the rights that have been accorded them, development of Sierra Leone will be a far-fetched endeavour. Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow will soon leave for Sierra Leone to continue his job.

 

 

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