Sierra Leone’s vice president Jalloh urges ECOWAS Bank to invest in shared regional infrastructures

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 October 2019:

Sierra Leone’s vice president Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, yesterday urged the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development to prioritise their investment in shared regional infrastructure, so as to accelerate economic development in West Africa.

Delivering his keynote address at the 17th Session of the Board of Governors of the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown, vice president Jalloh said that by investing in construction of roads, shipping, transportation, and electricity, smaller economies would be able to grow and compete.

He said that because of poor road network, it is more expensive to travel by road from Freetown to Conakry than to fly from Freetown to Casablanca, as he welcomed the ECOWAS bankers to Sierra Leone, expressing his appreciation for their financial and technical support in the region – including improving the lives of people in Sierra Leone.

He spoke about government’s 2019-2023 Mid-Term National Development Plan which he said focuses on human resource development as the engine for promoting economic growth and social advancement in Sierra Leone.

Jalloh said that his New Direction government is working to strengthen governance and accountability, structural transformation, improve on energy and road infrastructure, affordable healthcare and economic diversification to provide opportunities for, and empower women and the youths.

“Developing national industries and integration into national and international markets are key components of the plan for economic transformation that will reduce the country’s exposure to external economic shocks,” he said.

The private sector he said has a major role to play in transforming the economy and help the government achieve its aims, and is therefore being reformed, including government’s plans to form a national investment board.

The vice president spoke about Sierra Leone’s investment potential in various economic sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, the service sector and renewable energy.

But realisation of this potential he said, is being hampered by poor road networks, as he called on the ECOWAS Bank to priorities its investment in infrastructure development to help Sierra Leone achieve its goals.

In another development, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa (Photo) has been appointed Chairman of the Board of ECOWAS Bank, replacing Amadou Hott of Senegal.

His appointment was announced at the 17th Annual General Meeting of the Board of Governors of the ECOWAS Bank, meeting in Freetown.

ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) is a financial institution established by fifteen member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1999, after the transformation of the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development of the Economic Community. It was established to promote wealth creation and poverty reduction in the region.

Speaking after his appointment, Saffa said that his appointment will be beneficial to Sierra Leone, as it will ensure that the country’s development projects will be fast tracked.

1 Comment

  1. Sierra Leone has seemingly many significant infrastructural needs that require immediate attention. Water, Roads, Rail, Ports, Airports, Telecommunications and Tourism, among others. And the few that exit today are basically in disrepair, particularly roads and bridges that are critically important in any developmental overhaul of the country. See for yourself, the road between Pendembu and Kailahun in the eastern province of the country, during the raining season, as an example of the many dilapidated roads in Sierra Leone. It becomes not only completely impassable but a death trap as well. To be sure, the overall infrastructure was badly damaged during the country’s decade long civil war, from 1991 to 2002, and the country continues to suffer from deficits in this area, both in quantity and quality.

    But there is an added dimension to this quagmire, and it’s called neglect, corruption, regional biases, political gerrymandering, and uneven or disproportionate distribution of the country’s wealth. The so-called New Direction government has trumpeted infrastructural development as one of its priority agenda even before it assumed the mantle of power. The Office of the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative (OPII) has identified a number of short, medium and long-term priority infrastructure projects. And in like manner, the vice president, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has urged the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development to prioritize their investment in shared regional infrastructure, so as to accelerate economic development in West Africa. Does Lungi Bridge ring a bell!

    And now, comes the newly minted New Board Chair of ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID). Mr. J.J Saffa, the current Sierra Leone’s minister of finance, whose department garnered 80% of favourability or performance ratings in a recent survey, wasted no time in announcing “that some of the promises in the pipeline for the country would be “fast tracked”. Halleluyah, finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Dependency on foreign aid could be cumbersome and harassment.
    He also indicated his desire for enhancing domestic resource mobilization within the ECOWAS family in order for the union meets it’s many challenges. I hope, he has Sierra Leone’s infrastructure in mind since he was one of the brains that inserted infrastructure into their manifesto.

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