Former president Koroma of Sierra Leone failed to improve access to economic opportunity

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 November 2018:

After more than ten years in power, the government of former president Ernest Bai Koroma failed to improve access to economic opportunity and education, as business climate suffered, according to the latest Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index published last Monday.

Analysis of the 2018 Index carried out by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, showed that between 2008 and 2017, the period in which president Koroma and his government borrowed far more than previous governments to rebuild a nation broken by ten years of civil war, the country fared far worse in most indices, when compared to Ghana, Liberia, and Guinea.

Overall Governance

Sierra Leone did slightly better in 2008 to 2017 than the average for Africa in terms of overall governance, with a score of 50.9 over 100 and 49.9 for Africa. But when compared to its West African counterparts, the picture is less favourable; Ghana scored 68.1, Liberia 51.6 and Guinea 45.9.

What the trend shows is that both Ghana and Liberia experienced increasing improvements (progress over the period, with rate of improvement increasing) in overall governance between 2008 and 2018, with Guinea showing a slowing improvement, and Sierra Leone – according to the Mo Ibrahim Report showing warning signs for concern in overall governance under the Koroma led APC government.

Safety and Rule of Law

In terms of the safety of citizens from harm and the enforcement of the rule of law, both Ghana and Liberia topped the group with 90.6 over 100 and 65.2 over 100 respectively. Sierra Leone performed slightly better than Guinea with 58.8 while Guinea scored 55.2.

According to the analysis of the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index carried out by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, the trends showed warning signs for Ghanaians, with Liberia and Guinea showing increasing improvement, whilst Sierra Leone under former president Koroma showed that improvements made earlier were slowing down between 2008 and 2017.

Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability were never a strong indicator for the Koroma led APC government. In 2008, President Koroma promised to run Sierra Leone like a business and to publish the performance reports of all government departments and ministries after their annual reviews, so that ministers could be held accountable. But he failed to do so, and this partly explains the low score achieved in the Mo Ibrahim 2018 Index.

Ghana led the group with 45.2 over 100, Liberia 34.9, Guinea 27.1, and Sierra Leone 31.7 over 100.

Looking at the trends over the ten-year period, what is evident is that between 2008 and 2017, Sierra Leoneans experienced increasing deterioration in transparency and governance – as in Ghana, whilst Guinea was showing warning signs.

Liberia was bouncing back under the governance of president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, according to the report, which culminated in the president receiving the Mo Ibrahim Award for good governance.

National Security              

Although both Ghana and Sierra Leone experienced almost similar performance in terms of national security, with Ghana scoring 85.4 over 100 and Sierra Leone 85.8, there the similarities end. Because a close look at the trends over the almost ten-year period – 2008 to 2017 showed that, Ghana experienced a slowing deterioration whilst in Sierra Leone there were warning signs.

These warning signs were felt in the run-up to presidential and general elections in Sierra Leone, with serious political violence, especially in the capital Freetown.

Both Liberia and Guinea – Sierra Leone’s neighbours, topped the group with high scores of 87.2 respectively, although there were warning signs in Guinea and a slowing down in improvement in Liberia.

Participation & Human Rights

Sierra Leone and Guinea performed far better than the African average in guaranteeing participation and human rights with scores of 66.4 (Sierra Leone) and 53.9 (Guinea), and the African average at 49.2.

But when compared to Ghana and Liberia, once again there was more to be desired as Ghana topped the group with 82.6% and Liberia 74%.

In terms of trends over the period – 2008 to 2017, Sierra Leone experienced an overall increasing improvement, whilst in Guinea improvement was slowing down. Both Ghana and Liberia enjoyed increasing improvements in universal civil participation and human rights.

Gender

In terms of promoting gender rights and opening access to equal opportunity, Sierra Leone performed far better than Ghana, Liberia and Guinea with a high score of 66.3%, compared to Guinea’s 45.2, Liberia’s 57.6, and Ghana’s 66.1.

But looking at trends over the period – 2008 to 2017, in Sierra Leone improvement was slowing down; in Guinea there was increasing deterioration; in Liberia, despite having a woman as president, there were warning signs; whilst in Ghana, there was increasing deterioration in progress.

Sustainable Economic Opportunity

According to the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index Report: “African governments have struggled to translate economic growth into improved Sustainable Economic Opportunity for their citizens. Since 2008 the African average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity has increased by 0.1 point, or 0.2%, despite a continental increase in GDP of nearly 40% over the same period.

“There has been virtually no progress in creating Sustainable Economic Opportunity, meaning it remains the IIAG’s worst performing and slowest improving category. Defined as the extent to which governments enable their citizens to pursue economic goals and prosper, the almost stagnant Sustainable Economic Opportunity trend strikes a concerning contrast with demographic growth and youth expectations.”

So, the Sierra Leone Telegraph asks – how did Sierra Leone fair in comparison with the rest of Africa in general and its West African neighbours in particular, under the Koroma led APC government?

This is what the Mo Ibrahim report says: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia performed far worse than the African continent’s average of 44.8% – with Sierra Leone struggling at the bottom of the group with 38%, Guinea 38.6, Liberia 39.4, and Ghana exceeding the African average with a score of 58.6%.

With respect to trends over the period – 2008 to 2017, Whilst both Ghana and Guinea experienced increasing improvement in sustainable economic opportunity for their citizens, for Sierra Leoneans under the Koroma led APC government there was increasing deterioration, as Liberia was showing slowing improvement.

Public Management

In terms of public sector management performance, although Sierra Leone did slightly better than Liberia with a score of 42.6 against Liberia’s 40.7, in the Koroma led APC government of 2008 and 2017, there were warning signs in the country, whilst Liberia was showing increasing improvement.

Guinea fared slightly better than Sierra Leone with a score of 43.5, whilst Ghana topped the group with 52.3. Both countries showed increasing improvement.

Business Environment

Sierra Leone performed far worse than the other three countries in the group, with a low score of 36.9 compared to Liberia 41, Guinea 49.8, and Ghana topping the group with a score of 61.4.

Whilst Sierra Leone appeared to have improved its climate for doing business according to World Bank’s report, this improvement has not been sufficient enough to encourage an increase in the number of inward investors or large-scale domestic investments in industrial and business development.

With companies such as African Mineral and the Chinese Shandong Mining Ltd abandoning their iron ore operations in Sierra Leone, and the increasing uncertainty over Sierra Rutile Ltd., Sierra Leone’s economy has experienced and still witnessing a serious decline.

According to the Mo Ibrahim 2018 Index, Sierra Leone’s business environment saw an increasing deterioration between 2008 and 2017 – the Koroma led APC government years, whilst Guinea showed increasing improvement; and both Ghana and Liberia bouncing back.

Infrastructure 

With an increasing deterioration in Sierra Leone’s business environment reported by the Mo Ibrahim Index, Sierra Leone’s score for infrastructure development was far from being any better. Trends for the period 2008 to 2017, showed it too suffered increasing deterioration, with the lowest score of 24.2 compared to the rest of the group.

Guinea scored 27.5 and was showing warning signs. The trends for both Liberia and Ghana showed they were bouncing back, with scores of 35.1 and 61.5 respectively.

Rural Sector

Over 80% of people in Sierra Leone live in rural areas, and here is where one expects to see real progress in terms of economic and social development.

However, with increasing evidence of migration from rural communities to urban areas in search of a better life, suggests that the Koroma led APC government did very little to create opportunities in the rural areas to improve living standards and quality of life for the people.

Although Sierra Leone performed better in the period 2008 to 2017 than Guinea with a score of 48.2 compared to Guinea’s 33.8, Sierra Leoneans experienced increasing deterioration in rural development whilst Guineans saw a slowing down of deterioration.

Sierra Leone also performed better than Liberia whose score of 40.8 was also better than Guinea. The trends for Liberia showed there were warning signs in that period.

Ghana topped the group with a score of 59.2, but there were warning signs progress could stall.

Human Development

In terms of human development, under the Koroma led APC government, Sierra Leone performed much worse than the African average of 52.8, and also scored the lowest in the group of four West African countries.

With a low score of 43.6, the trends throughout the Koroma years showed there were warning signs, according to the Mo Ibrahim Index. In Guinea there were also warning signs with a score of 44.6; Liberia was showing slowing down in improvement with a score of 47%; and Ghana leading the class with 69.9% – more than 17% higher than the African average and showing increasing improvement.

Welfare

Responding to the welfare needs of its people, the Koroma led APC government fared much worse than all the countries in the group, with a low score of 37.1 compared to Guinea’s 40.4, Liberia 43.4, and Ghana leading with a score of 67.1.

The 30 points gap between Ghana and Sierra Leone accentuates the fact that in the period 2008 to 2017, Ghanaians experienced a bouncing back in promoting welfare rights, whilst Sierra Leoneans saw an increasing deterioration in accessing welfare rights.

In Guinea the trends showed warning signs, whilst in Liberia there was increasing improvement.

Education

In Sierra Leone today, the newly elected government of president Julius Maada Bio has prioritised education with an 8% increase in budget, to make up for the years of decline under the Koroma led APC government.

The Bio led government has also launched a Free Quality Education Programme for primary and secondary school pupils, an initiative that could be vital in reviving the country’s economy and raise literacy standard from the present low rate of 30% – one of the lowest in Africa.

According to the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index, although Sierra Leone fared slightly better than Liberia and Guinea with a score of 42.1 compared to Liberia’s 40.4 and Guinea’s 32.9, Ghana was way ahead of Sierra Leone with a high score of 66.6.

Throughout that period – 2008 to 2017, Ghanaians saw increasing improvement in education provision, whilst in Sierra Leone there was increasing deterioration.

Comparative trends analysis carried out by the Sierra Leone Telegraph shows that in the same period, there were warning signs in Guinea whilst Liberians were experiencing increasing deterioration.

Health

With Sierra Leone stuck at the bottom of the welfare indices throughout the Koroma led APC government, it was expected that the country would fare poorly in terms of healthcare provision, though the Koroma government said that healthcare provision for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 5 years old was free at point of access.

The delivery of the Koroma government’s free healthcare provision was hampered by poor leadership, corruption and failure to commit higher spending. The onset of the Ebola epidemic worsened an already bad situation and exposed the poor conditions of the country’s creaky healthcare infrastructure.

With 30% of children dying before their fifth birthday and 27% of pregnant women dying during pregnancy or childbirth, Sierra Leone was classed as the worst country on earth to give birth.

According to the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index, Sierra Leone performed far worse than its neighbours with a score of 51.5, compared to Guinea 60.5, and Liberia 57.3%. Ghana’s benchmark score of 76.1 was 25 points better than Sierra Leone’s.

In terms of trends throughout that period – 2008 to 2017, Ghana and Liberia enjoyed increasing improvement, whilst in Sierra Leone there was a slowing of previous improvements. Guinea was showing warning signs.

Commenting on the results of the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mr Mo Ibrahim, said:

“We welcome progress in Overall Governance, but the lost opportunity of the past decade is deeply concerning. Africa has a huge challenge ahead. Its large and youthful potential workforce could transform the continent for the better, but this opportunity is close to being squandered. 

“The evidence is clear – young citizens of Africa need hope, prospects and opportunities. Its leaders need to speed up job creation to sustain progress and stave off deterioration. The time to act is now.”

3 Comments

  1. This is a big blow to the former president’s ego because his sycophants used to refer to him as the world’s best. His only achievement was to enrich his cronies, family and himself through stealing from the people of Sierra Leone. I hope he will find time to read this article which I believe will be a wake up call for him to admit that he is not a hero but a failure to this nation.

    My only advice to him and his followers is to give President Maada Bio the opportunity to take our country to a higher level with the help and wisdom of the almighty, instead of spending all their time and energy trying to destroy the current president’s image.

  2. Good reporting, but one principal component of the matter is that both Ghana and Guinea have sustainable drive in technical education agenda. Their polytechnic graduates are very productive and often profitably self-employed. Since independence, the Guineans particularly have made lots of investment in polytechnics and created the enabling environment for graduates from those institutions. In Sierra Leone, to date ours are only polytechnics in name.

  3. The Ernest Koroma led APC government’s poor performance as the worst in the sub-region has not come as a surprise. The world’s best as was nicknamed by his cohorts was just a stark ridicule exhibited across the continent. They must now bury their heads between their legs for being ashamed of the Mo Ibrahim index revelation.

    Sierra Leoneans had already graded the last APC government and its leadership as the worst government Sierra Leone has ever had. They must pay for the damage they inflicted on this generation and their forebears.

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