Zainab Tunkara Clarkson
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 November 2015
But it must be done as part of a concerted and co-ordinated post-Ebola recovery programme. (Photo: Zainab T Clarkson).
Reading the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) for 2015, one cannot but observe the fact that Sierra Leone comes a disturbing and worrying 128th out of the 132 countries surveyed.
Apart from the fact that we are close to the bottom of the table, it is also frightening to see that Sierra Leone slipped five places down, from last year’s ranking when we were 123rd.
Sierra Leone stands below the likes of Uganda (123), Benin (124), Burkina Faso (126), Madagascar (127), and Mauritania (129); with Malawi (130), Burundi (131) and Chad (132).
According to the Washington based Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute who produced the report, Sierra Leone scores 14.6 compared to the best score of 86.2 by the top-ranking country – the United States, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark and Sweden.
With entrepreneurship widely accepted as the engine of economic growth, employment creation, prosperity and global competitiveness, Sierra Leone must do more to develop this sector, if it is to have any chance of coming out of its current economic predicament.
The report also says that Sierra Leone scores 14.2 in entrepreneurial attitude; 21 in entrepreneurial abilities and only 10 in entrepreneurial aspirations.
The World Bank’s global ‘Doing Business Report 2016, which measures regulatory, quality and efficiency in doing business, ranks Sierra Leone at 180 among 189 economies.
Yet with all of the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs in the country, one would expect small businesses to be lobbying the government and policymakers for support. But sadly, the voice of small business is hardly heard.
For a weak economy, such as Sierra Leone, strengthening the institutional foundations for entrepreneurial activity, as well as gradually developing the human capital and physical infrastructure is compulsory, if we are to improve living standards.
What is also needed is a combination of strong anti-competitive policies and stronger supply-chain linkages to promote a more open economy.
Part of our problem is that we are still suffering from the after-effects of Ebola. But now that the scourge has been eliminated, it is time to step up economic growth through local entrepreneurship promotion and development.
The Small business sector could play an important role in creating the millions of jobs Sierra Leone needs.
But the sector is in desperate need of financial support, a strong local leadership and a strategy that promotes innovation, competitiveness and growth.
It can also reduce the concentration of economic power, stimulate wealth creation and distribution, leading to improvement in living standards and facilitate overall development.
At the start of 2014, Sierra Leone’s Gross Domestic Product was growing at a high rate of 14%, one of the highest in Africa. But today, GDP has fallen to about 4%, though partly the result of the Ebola crisis.
We need an economic blueprint to get markets open, restore transportation links, get farmers’ cooperatives functioning again, as well as trans-national trading becoming functional once again.
As they say, even in ruins there is supposed to be architecture. So we need to build from the ashes of Ebola and strive for a healthier, more prosperous and more developed Sierra Leone, rather than return to business as usual.
About the author:
Zainab Tunkara Clarkson is an International Development Consultant and a Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) Country Ambassador for Sierra Leone.