Getting Sierra Leone out of poverty – some food for thought

Sahr Nouwah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 October 2019:

While I will accept that Sierra Leone is poor and our people are suffering, I will also want to present some food for thoughts. Agreeing that investors are leaving and we are at a point where our economy seems to be struggling – all vices of a weak and unproductive system, I must say, as a country, people and citizens, not government, it is our responsibility to fight for ourselves and create the Sierra Leone we want.

This include those Sierra Leonean workings in Sierra Leone and in the diaspora. It includes the very poor, if our institutions must be built to help get us out of poverty.

Governmental policies

We must first begin with governmental policies. There is no hurry in development. What exist is careful planning, thoughtful engagement and transparent civil participation where policies are carved to benefit not to punish.

What I mean here is that we first need to decentralize our system. We should not build cities for the city’s sake. If anyone carefully study the western economy, you will realize that Cities in the west are used for attraction not as development hubs – they are not even designed as production hubs.

The real development (industrial and business wise) in western cities are carried out outside urban areas where space is in abundance, and at the same time populations are decentralized and jobs are spread. This is something Ghana has picked up through a policy announced by the present government – ‘’Each District, One Company’’.

We as citizens need to first be patient, then provide durable solutions through innovation. This will then allow us to work with government – to test those solutions within the system. Once an ideal becomes a marketable idea, we swiftly go into implementation or scaling up. This in turn creates the needed jobs and services.

The actual role of our embassies abroad must be to link Sierra Leonean trade and service industries to the outside world. Our Embassies must become a marketing arm of goods and services produced in Sierra Leone.

This is where we hold government responsible – if they fail us by not supporting such innovations; not doing anything to create favourable conditions through laws, policies and regulations, as well as providing needed incentives.

Let us take for instance: why should a cement factory be located in the capital city? Why should a beer factory not be located in the provinces – rural area?

I know we will argue about electricity or other facilities. But if we are ready for decentralization, this is where we work with government to decentralize such facilities and infrastructures.

I believe that if we want Sierra Leone to prosper and move forward, the government must implement the following:

  • Decentralize the electricity in all the economically viable locations with a careful and strategic move for every district to have at least one major industry or business enterprise that creates jobs and wealth
  • Provide reliable water systems across the country
  • Connect all major towns and cities with good roads and information communication network
  • Engage Citizens to come forward with and develop sustainable business models; and launch a national business model prize competition

There is no government in the world that employs it citizens like we normally think in Africa. What government does is strategic planning, careful implementation, focussing on people centred policy frameworks.

For instance, I am from Koindu, far from the city where there is no proper road, electricity and water. Every day I am worried about where to start. But if this once hailed market for Sierra Leone is connected, I can promise Sierra Leoneans that I alone can develop this place.

Let us be patient with government, but watchful. Let us provide government the roadmap of what we want and allow time for it to happen. Let us encourage us all to invest in Sierra Leone. I see our brothers and sisters, the amount of resources they are wasting in the west, just a quarter of it can build their villages back home with good drinking water, well-built toilets. Every home in their village can be built with zinc and cement. But they prefer enjoying their luxurious cars and mansions.

They sit and condemn government and insult the system. It does not matter how educated and how rich we are, if our motherland is poor – we will never gain the respect we deserve.

Let us wake up from our slumber and work together for Mama Salone. We have the resources and the energy – we are just not doing it right.

To achieve all of the above, we need a transparent society, free from corruption – with honest and trustworthy. We need a society where if am to drop my wallet, I should never feel worried that I will never receive it back – in just days, and with everything intact.


  1. “We must first begin with governmental policies. There is no hurry in development. What exist is careful planning, thoughtful engagement and transparent civil participation where policies are carved to benefit not to punish” Dakei Ngor Sahr, in this exquisite and extremely noteworthy statement, you just summarised the foundation for our growth and development. No amount of technology will work until, and unless these fundamentals are provided. And it should start with the government being very pragmatic and resourceful in carving policies and prioritizing its strategic policy implementations.

    Moreover, governments are never and can never be principal employers, anywhere in the world. Rather, all progressive governments do is create that comprehensive enabling environment not only for creativity but private entrepreneurship to thrive and create employment and trainings for the qualified majority. Governments can provide institutions to train and make its people manpower-ready, but in real terms, it should be the least employer.

    A good government don’t fight to ensure that campaign promises are all implemented without any sound economic thought. All legendary leaders do is to create that enabling environment and build the foundation for suitable development. Successive leaders will continue building on that foundation. Bravo for this rewarding piece.

  2. I base Investment on citizenship. How can one invest in state revitalization when he/she may not take part in the country’s political and electoral activities?

  3. I think the points highlighted are valid, but I think private investors would like to know who is going to pay the bills for all our government offices, our military and police posts, and barracks – where electric cooker, kettle, freezers and now air conditioner are the norm.

    While the poor market lady will pay for electricity and only receive a fraction of her money’s worth, electricity should not be free for government offices and quarters, nor for the police and military offices/quarters. This needs to be addressed before we can talk about decentralisation/privatisation.

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