Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 October 2015
Sierra Leone has the third worst healthcare in the whole of Africa, according to the latest Mo Ibrahim Governance Index Report, based on its study of all 52 countries in Africa in 2013, before the start of the Ebola crisis.
Ranked 50 out of 52 African countries, only Somalia and Chad performed worse.
The poor performance of the government in tackling serious health issues in the country, due to neglect and poor governance, could be seen in its mismanagement of the Ebola crisis, government’s unpreparedness and the poor state of the health systems.
With the African average performance for healthcare rated at 72.7%, Sierra Leone scored 51.9 over 100, third place only to Chad at 48.7 and Somalia at 40.3 over 100 respectively.
As the political debate continues as to whether the government could have handled the Ebola crisis much more effectively, there are no clear signs of lessons learnt.
Recent flooding due to heavy rains across the country, once again proved the government’s incompetence in national disaster management. Over 7,000 people across the country lost their homes and are now seeking shelter in public buildings.
In the last seventeen months, almost 4,000 people have been killed by Ebola in Sierra Leone, with 9,000 people contracting the virus. Infant and adult mortality in Sierra Leone continues to be one of the highest in the world, with 50% of adult likely to die before their 45th birthday.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Report, in 2010 Sierra Leone scored 50% on overall Governance, and in 2013, had managed to improve on this very important indicator of how well the government is doing by only 1.1% to 51.1%.
Poor governance accounts for billions of dollars being wasted or misappropriated by corrupt government officials. Ranked 25th out of 52 countries, Sierra Leone fell far short of matching even the Gambia where military leader president Yayah Jammeh is said to be ruling with iron fist.
But of the three former war-torn West African countries, worst affected by Ebola, Sierra Leone on 51.1% performed slightly better on governance – with Liberia scoring 49.3% and Guinea 43.3%.
Mauritius topped the list of best governed African country with a score of 81.7%, serving as a model for good governance in the continent.
On Safety and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone ranked 16th out of 52 nations and performed slightly better than the continent’s average of 51.7%, with a score of 58.5%.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Report: “This category measures the extent to which all individuals are protected from both internal and external threats to the peace, and the existence of a robust legal system and transparent, effective and accessible institutions, within all branches of the state.”
But with most African countries now enjoying relative peace and security – fewer wars and coup d’état , ten of the fifty-two countries achieved their best governance performance in 2013, with Botswana scoring the highest at 85.3% and Somalia the lowest score at 5.9%.
Sierra Leone is also among the five countries with the greatest improvement in Safety and Rule of Law in the past 5 years: Ivory Coast scoring 41.6%; Guinea 46.5%; Sierra Leone 58.5%; Niger 56%; and Senegal 63.5%.
But Sierra Leone had experienced a much slower improvement +9.5% in safety and rule of law, since 2009 when the country was in the grips of party political turmoil, heightened by the government’s closure of opposition radio station and the violence that ensued at the SLPP head office in Freetown, where a woman was allegedly raped by ruling party operatives.
On the single indicator of Rule of Law, the African average score was 47.1%, with Botswana once again setting the standard at a high of 95.5%.
Sierra Leone’s lower score of 53.5%, though better than the African average of 47.1% is explained by the fact that on accountability the country only managed to score 41.1%, again much lower than Botswana – Africa’s best at 77.3%.
Similarly, on Personal safety, with most African countries averaging 43.6%, Sierra Leone scored 54.7%, with São Tomé & Príncipe scoring the highest country score at 75%.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Report, Sierra Leone’s best score was on National Security at 82.9%, which though much higher than the continent’s average of 77.1%, placed Sierra Leone 22nd out of 52 countries.
And what many may find surprising is that the highest country score for National Security in the continent was by Cape Verde at 100%. But perhaps given its island location, size and ethnic composition it is not too difficult to see why.
Participation & Human Rights
According to the Report: “This category captures the relationship between government and citizen. It measures both the extent to which individuals can participate in, and take ownership of, the political process and the state’s achievement in guaranteeing the political and social rights of all citizens.”
The African average score for participation and human rights was 49.9%, with Sierra Leone scoring much higher than the average at 57.4%.
Given the preponderance of civil society groups and human rights activists in Sierra Leone, it is clear that though the judiciary is weak and the police force highly partisan and politicised in favour of the Koroma government, citizen participation and respect for human rights are very well promoted.
The media and the country’s main opposition SLPP do play a significant role in checking government’s excesses, though less effectively – given the ruling party’s dominance in parliament.
According to Mo Ibrahim, twenty of the fifty-two countries in Africa achieved their best governance performance in 2013, with the highest country score by Cape Verde at 83.5%, and lowest score by Somalia at 10.7%.
Countries with greatest improvement in five years in terms of Legislation on Violence Against Women, International Human Rights Conventions, and Political Participation are: Tunisia 60.6; Libya 40.5; Ivory Coast 43.9; Niger 55; and Guinea at 43.2%.
There was a slight change in Sierra Leone’s performance of +0.9% since 2009.
On citizens’ participation, Sierra Leone’s score of 61% is much higher than the African Average of 47%, but lower than the continent’s best of 96.1% for Cape Verde. This places Sierra Leone at 19th position out of 52 countries.
On citizens’ rights where the African average was 49.4%, Sierra Leone once again scored better than the average with a score of 64.2%. This ranked Sierra Leone at 12th position out of 52, but far below the highest country score of 84% achieved by Cape Verde.
And on Gender Rights, Sierra Leone scored less than the African average of 53.2%, with a score of 46.9%, placing Sierra Leone at 32nd out of 52 countries.
The highest country score in the continent for gender rights was scored by Seychelles with 88.7%
Sustainable Economic Opportunity
According to the Report; “This category assesses whether the state provides the conditions necessary for the pursuit of economic opportunities that contribute to a prosperous and equitable society. It measures the delivery of sound economic policies and the provision of a sustainable economic environment that is conducive to investment and the operation of a business.”
The government of Sierra Leone headed by president Koroma has since 2007 come under serious and persistent criticisms for its lack of vision and ability to formulate and implement sound economic development policies and strategies.
In 2007 when president Koroma was elected to office, Gross Domestic Product was about 8%. In four years the economy grew to 11%, mainly as the result of a one-off surge in iron ore production, after the mines had been mothballed during the ten year long civil war.
But this economic growth has brought very little change in the levels of unemployment and abject poverty in the country. Over 70% of the country’s youths are unemployed, not in skills training or education.
Thousands of households in Sierra Leone are now either in receipt of World Bank’s cash handouts, or will soon be receiving what the World Bank calls ‘safety net cash payments’ to cushion the poor against harsh economic conditions in the country.
Average daily income in Sierra Leone is less than $1.50.
Whilst the African Average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity is 45.6%, Sierra Leone scored 41.6% – a change of +0.4% since 2009, ranking the country 33 out of 52 countries, with the highest country score of 79.7% by Mauritius.
Somalia scored the lowest score of 3.5%.
Countries with the greatest improvement in the last five years are DR Congo 34.8%; Morocco 69.1%; Rwanda 63.4%; Djibouti 48.1%; and Seychelles 63.6%.
Most of the countries that have improved have done so through digital connectivity, investment climate, telephone and IT infrastructure.
The Mo Ibrahim Report also looked at Public Management and found that the African Average score for this indicator was 47.1%, with South Africa scoring the highest country score of 74.5%
Despite tens of millions being poured into Sierra Leone by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to develop the country’s digital connectivity and telephone infrastructure, little progress have been achieved due to poor governance and corruption.
And this is reflected in the Mo Ibrahim Report, which shows that Sierra Leone fell far short of achieving the continent’s average score on public management of 47.1%. The country only managed 42% and ranked 38 out of 52 countries.
Costs of internet access and mobile telephone calls in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the continent.
On of the policy areas upon which president Koroma was elected in 2007 was his promise to run Sierra Leone like a business by creating a business and investment friendly environment. Eight years on, several foreign companies have either closed down or restructured their operations as the cost of doing business in the country makes Sierra Leone a less likely destination for foreign investment.
There are several problems affecting or discouraging businesses in Sierra Leone, such as the low pool of skilled labour, lack of electricity and water, high interest rates, poor telecommunications and internet access, corruption and poor governance.
With the government’s rhetoric about promoting inward investments in shambles, it is no surprise therefore that its performance of 46.5% is about the same as the African average of 46.1%, with Mauritius scoring the highest of 90.4%.
Sierra Leone needs to raise its performance in terms of business environment if it is to be taken seriously by investors looking across the continent for safe and high returns.
And the same is also true for infrastructure – another of the Mo Ibrahim Report indicators. Critics of the Koroma government say that despite spending over $400 million on infrastructure in the country, the effect on GDP, wealth creation and employment opportunities has not been positive.
This raises serious questions about the government’s ability to assess the country’s needs based on real evidence, and thus prioritise its public spending programmes.
The Mo Ibrahim Report found that with a poor score of 23.4% Sierra Leone fell far short of achieving the African average of 36.4% for infrastructure, hence ranking Sierra Leone 39 out of 52 countries, with Seychelles scoring the highest of 81.6%.
If Sierra Leone is struggling to catch up with the average performers in Africa, then the question surely must be: which credible investor is going to put their money in Koroma’s Sierra Leone, instead of going elsewhere?
On rural sector development which has never been the Koroma government’s priority, Sierra Leone scored 54.3%, which is slightly better than the African average of 53.8%, thanks many would say to a few mining companies, whose corporate social responsibility and community development policies and investments are helping to regenerate poor rural communities.
The highest country score for rural sector development in Africa was Cape Verde with 80.3%. Sierra Leone is ranked 29 out of the 52 countries.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Report: “This category evaluates the success of the state in securing the well-being of all of its citizens. It measures the extent to which the government provides citizens with social protection, comprehensive education provision and a healthy life.”
A key objective of most governments is to promote the human development of their people, and in this regard the Koroma government has failed woefully.
Sierra Leone scored 47.1% against the African Average of 58.7%. This ranked Sierra Leone 45 out of 52 countries, right at the bottom seven poorest countries in Africa, according to this indicator.
The highest country score is Mauritius with 85.6% and not surprisingly Somalia scoring the lowest.
The Report found that countries with greatest improvement in the last five years had done so by improving Antiretroviral treatment provision, increased child mortality, and environmental sustainability.
And countries that have improved most in five years are Zimbabwe scoring 53.9%; Togo 54.6%; Rwanda 72.1%; São Tomé & Príncipe 66.3%; and Liberia 53.6%.
Sierra Leone recorded an improvement of less than 5% (+4.9 %) since 2009.
One of the key indicators of human development is citizens’ welfare. In this respect the Koroma government once again failed to make adequate provision that is equal to the African average.
Sierra Leone scored 42.4% in comparison with the African Average of 51.5%, thus ranking Sierra Leone at 39 out of 52 countries, with Mauritius achieving the highest country score of 81.1%.
For several decades Sierra Leone has been lagging behind most African countries in terms of standards and quality of education and skills, with less than 43% of the population capable of reading and writing.
This grim statistics is borne out yet again in this latest Mo Ibrahim Report, which shows that the Koroma government has done very little to improve standards and quality of education in sierra Leone.
According to the Report, Sierra Leone scored 47% against the African average of 52%, and Mauritius scoring the highest with 85.9%.
Hence in terms of standard of education in Africa, Sierra Leone is now ranked 30 out of 52 countries.
Finally health, and it goes without saying that the health of a nation determines the wealth, prosperity and happiness of its people, and in this regard the Koroma government has also failed woefully.
Setting aside the Ebola crisis and its toll on the people of Sierra Leone and the country’s health systems, far too many Sierra Leoneans are dying of multiple, preventable diseases because of the lack of affordable facilities for routine health checks and diagnosis, poor access to drugs and medication, illiteracy, poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, poverty and poor diet.
Since coming to power in 2007, there has been little change in the rate of adult and child mortality. In the last five years, there has been an alarming rise in the number of young people aged less than 30 years that are dying of unknown conditions – most people call it “an attack” of some sort.
The Mo Ibrahim figures bear this deplorable state of affairs in Sierra Leone, as the country is now ranked 50 out of a total of 52 countries in terms of healthcare. And it is important to note that this study was done prior to the start of the Ebola crisis in 2014.
Sierra Leone achieved a score of 51.9% compared to the African average of 72.7%, with Chad and Somalia performing worse than Sierra Leone with scores of 48.7% and 40.3% respectively.
There is little doubt that whilst Sierra Leone has done well in terms of national security where it achieved its highest score, the country is facing a very serious decline in healthcare, education, human development, business environment and overall sense of well being of the population.
This must have serious consequences for the economy, national cohesion, and political stability.
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