Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 September 2021:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai last Friday addressed the Ministerial Meeting of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that seeks to overcome structural challenges in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals – including the SDGs, and enable graduation from the LDCs category.
In his address, Dr. Kai-Kai said despite the pandemic, the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2019-2023 remains Sierra Leone’s roadmap to meeting internationally agreed agendas and to growth and stability.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our countries had made good progress in implementing the sustainable development goals and meeting international targets.
“The Sierra Leone MTNDP (2019-2023) was prepared with a people centred focus and aligned with the SDGs, Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) commitments and the African Union Agenda 2063. We believe that the full implementation of the MTNDP would put us in good stead to achieving the SDGs and meeting the requirements of the AU Agenda 2063”, he said.
The Minister said that he was optimistic that global efforts to roll out COVID-19 vaccines would make the vaccines more accessible and affordable in the Least Developed Countries, which according to him, remained their best bet at slowing down infections and paving the way for a return to normalcy. (Photo above: LDCs ministers meeting via videoconferencing).
“Let me reiterate that any return to normalcy and post pandemic recovery is predicated on the availability of and accessibility to vaccines. We therefore renew our call for a fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by LDCs, so that the majority of the populations in LDCs would not be left behind in the ongoing global vaccination drive to ensure that everyone is safe”, Dr. Kai-Kai noted, as he acknowledged the support provided by international partners in addressing the increased financial needs of LDCs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Kai-Kai, however, noted that the external debt stock and debt service of many LDCs have increased significantly during this period; calling for scaling up of the percentage of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to LDCs and debt relief to their countries.
The Ministers and Heads of delegation of the Least Developed Countries concluded with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration, reaffirming the Istanbul Declaration and the Program of Action for the LDCs for the ten-year period – 2011 to 2020 and further reaffirming also the 2030 Agenda for SDGs.
The IPoA for the Least Developed Countries was adopted by the 4th United Nations Conference on the LDCs held in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2011.