Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 February 2021:
Last Wednesday, UN Resident Coordinator (RC) in Sierra Leone – Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi, held discussions with ten senior members of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SLCCIA) on the need to build strong partnerships to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Sierra Leone. These Goals are at the heart of Agenda 2030, a global development agenda agreed by 193 countries in 2015.
The RC said that the UN’s work in-country is guided by the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2020-2023), aligned to Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan and the SDGs.
He empathized the importance of the private sector in realizing the SDGs, catalyzing the potential of strategic partnerships to deliver on the economic, social, and environmental objectives of the country.
The private sector can and should play a crucial role in achieving development gains, particularly bringing in innovative solutions and technologies.
Like the interconnected nature of the SDGs, stakeholders should also leverage each other’s comparative advantages to scale-up good ideas to simultaneously advance organizational outcomes and national development priorities in ways that leave no one behind. (Photo: UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi).
The world has less than 10 years to achieve the Agenda 2030 and the discussion with SLCCIA centered around how Sierra Leone could accelerate activities to achieve these goals.
Among other issues, the RC appealed to the business leaders to advocate and ensure gender balance, especially for board positions.
SLCCIA President, Mr. Christopher John Forster noted that the Chamber has a special committee on Women Boards led by SLCCIA Second Vice President Ms. Amy E. Greene.
The meeting was also charactersied by forward-looking exchanges around the need for data analytics, as well as policy changes and regulatory reforms on land tenure, taxation, capital market, and education for improving the business operating environment.
A number of critical enablers were identified for enhancing the business climate for both large and small businesses in Sierra Leone.
SLCCIA representation included business leaders from diverse economic sectors, including renewable energy, tourism, manufacturing, textiles, agribusiness, and import-exporting.
The RC concluded the discussions by encouraging the private sector to go beyond conventional corporate social responsibility activities, by leveraging their investments, agility, and innovative services, products and organizational practices to effectively contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in Sierra Leone. He also informed them about initiatives such as the UN Global Compact that guide businesses in support of the SDGs. He hopes the meeting is the first of many engagements with the private sector.
For more information on the SDGs visit: https://sdgs.un.org/goals
For more information on our UNSDCF visit: https://sierraleone.un.org/en/100608-united-nations-sustainable-development-cooperation-framework-sierra-leone-2020-2023
For more information on the UN Global Contact visit: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/
Without doubt, sustainable development goals can only be achieved through small business enterprise. In all countries, the private sector is the main driver of economic growth. That is why government should be encouraged to create a business friendly environment, like creating security and promoting entrepreneurial skills amongst small businesses holders through training and the use of technology as the main vehicle for delivery of this services. Cutting red tape in terms of setting up a small business and a friendly business tax rate will go a long way, to help alleviate poverty and create more employment for university graduates and the Youths in general.
The aim should be for a long term sustainable economic growth. Under this government, their priorities in creating job opportunities and poverty reduction is out of sync with what our country needs. Some of the White elephant projects that the government has so far initiated have not produced the desired results. Grinding poverty continues to hurt the vast majority of people in the country. Governments do not run businesses, they create the environment needed for business to prosper, by implementing proactive economic policies, by working with our international partners, that are ready and willing to render expert advice.
In terms of economic performance and employment opportunities for their young, Rwanda is ahead of the curve. The Rwandan government took the view, enhancing the use of technology and helping their young population, and giving a helping hand to small businesses, especially women, is a win, win situation for businesses and their value chain suppliers. This creates more economic growth, and cuts down unemployment. Over the years, in Sierra leone, the private sector has played its part in driving economic growth, but in a limited capacity. Because governments have never focused their attention, on the potential of small and medium sized businesses to the impact they will have to the economic calculus of the country.