John Pa Baimba Sesay
13 May 2012
And, as a result of the trust and confidence that developed and emerging nations have in Sierra Leone, it is no gainsaying, that we continue to witness a twist, in terms of investors.
They are arriving in the country to invest their resources, because they trust the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma.
I wrote a few days ago, extensively on Sierra Leone’s investment opportunities. I argued that in the area of extractive industries, there has been many reforms; as well as in the fisheries, infrastructure and tourism sectors.
The media landscape too, has its opportunity for investment and this; we have begun realizing with an investment decision by Star Times Group in China, who are planning to arrive in Sierra Leone to invest in the development of digital television.
Let us, for a moment examine the basic facts.
The IMF has projected Sierra Leone’s GDP to grow at an encouraging level of around 13% this very year.
The introduction of the automated system within the operations of Customs at the country’s ports, has been a positive development in the country, especially so as it is now helping to make cross-border trade easy and reliable.
Sierra Leone is one of the top reformers in the African continent, in providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity, as shown in the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index.
Sierra Leone has also improved 25 places in the Doing Business Rankings in five good years, according to the World Bank.
The commitment of the government towards employing international best practices in governance and policy are real and very promising.
The creation of an enabling business environment, the reforms that have taken effect in the country’s tax system have been of tremendous help to not just the government, but the average Sierra Leonean in recent times.
Coupled with the determination and dedication of the National Revenue Authority’s workforce, there has been an increase in the revenue generated by the Authority.
The support and especially the political will that they have continued to receive from the central government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have been encouraging.
A leader with genuine intentions and plans is easy to tell. And this is what we see in our present leadership.
In 2007 President Koroma made a series of promises as to how he would improve the country. His promise to look at the country’s energy sector was met with real fulfillment, when, in 2008, he worked towards the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro project.
Bumbuna is today one of several developments that President Koroma could use in assessing his successes in governance, from the viewpoint of provision of electricity.
Former president Tejan Kabbah had and still has a clear record of having created,or better still, established a number of post war institutional reforms. But what was lacking at that time, was making these institutional reforms, like the NRA, IMC, ACC, perform as expected.
There was little or no impact left behind by the ACC, except for the fact that the institution was created by him. The revenue collection efforts of the NRA during the period 2004-2007 were as discouraging and poorly done, as was the political way the institution was managed at that time.
But today, we have a different picture in most, if not all of the above listed institutions. The ACC’s impact in national development is encouraging; the IMC has had its own side of Sierra Leone’s development in present day governance.
The NRA has had just an exceptional story, with trillions of Leone now being mobilized by the institution, under the leadership of a woman, a young and unassuming lady, in the person of Haja Kalla-Kamara.
But all of this could be related to the kind of political support that these institutions have continued to get from President Koroma.
The ACC has today been so exceptional and truly committed to its mandate, that government Ministers can be asked to account for wrong-doing in their ministries.
The fact that President Koroma had to declare his assets to the ACC was a demonstration of his sober mindedness to moving Sierra Leone to another level, in its socio-economic and political development.
The pace, at which we are moving ahead with our infrastructural development, means we can make tremendous progress in this direction in years to come, when President Koroma shall be re-elected for another term.
Our readiness and commitment to the growth of Sierra Leone should be our primary objective.
In an exclusive interview with him in his office at State House on Tuesday 10th April, President Koroma told me that Sierra Leoneans all over the country are demonstrating their appreciation for what his government has been able to achieve within four years in governance ,especially in the fulfillment of the ‘Agenda for Change’.
“The evidence is all over the country and people have been appreciative of our achievements as a government,” – says the president.
The president’s Agenda for Change is aimed at moving the country to a new direction in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education, health energy and power.
So far, I am of the strongest opinion that, there has been tremendous progress in the implementation of this ‘Agenda for Change’. The provision of electricity to every household in the country has been a major priority of government.
To date, it has helped largely in the supply of electricity in Freetown.
Also, the government ensured the installation of a 10MW thermal plant at the Kingtom Power Station, West of Freetown.
Another major area of concern was the implementation of a Free Healthcare Initiative, introduced in 2010. In working towards its implementation, Government ensured the provision of more resources to medical staff and the procurement of drugs and equipment, and strengthening of supervision.
And as a result of this initiative for pregnant and lactating mothers, in 2011, 41,000 women gave birth through the program. For those who think that nothing is happening in Sierra Leone, it is high time they change that notion.