Vice president Juldeh Jalloh promises changes to boost Sierra Leone economy

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 March 2019:

Sierra Leone’s vice president Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has announced major changes which the Bio led government will soon be implementing to boost tourism and other key sectors of the economy.

Visiting Njala University last week, the vice president spoke about the government’s intention to put university education at the centre of government’s drive to improve the country’s workforce and bridge skills gap.

He said that the government will increase university budgets so as to improve not only the buildings and facilities, but to improve learning, research and innovation. Universities are a major component of nation building, because they play a leading role in research and development.

Vice president Jalloh also spoke about the potential of the marine sector. But he said that regrettably Sierra Leone earns only $17 million revenue from the marine industry, through licensing fees issued to foreign trawlers. This he said is unacceptable and must change.

Sierra Leone lacks the infrastructure for marine processing, packaging and exporting, he said. And this needs to change  if the economy is to grow and jobs created.

The government he said is putting appropriate structures and policies in place to make the necessary changes.

But government he said cannot undertake the massive investment needed to grow the marine sector. The private sector must take on this role.

The role of government he said is to create the necessary climate and conditions that will promote and stimulate private sector investment that will in turn create jobs.

The vice president said that the private sector in Sierra Leone has experienced prolonged periods of contraction because of bureaucratic hurdles, especially in establishing new businesses.

This problem he said applies to both indigenous and foreign investors.  He added that the president has created an investment board which acts as the key policy making body for all private sector investments.

The aim of the Bio led government he said, is to expand the private sector to create jobs and grow the economy. This will then enable government to earn more revenue through taxation, rather than borrowing or seeking international aid.

“Government does not directly create jobs but creates the necessary environment that enables the private sector to create jobs, ” Jalloh said.

Speaking about developing the country’s tourism industry, vice president Jalloh is clear about what needs to be done.

“We are working towards putting infrastructure in place to declare Sierra Leone a visa-free country, which means so many people around the world can just jump on a plane and come to Sierra Leone and get a visa on arrival.

“This country does not have a lot of foreign Missions across the world so the best way you can encourage tourists, business people and investors to come is to make things easy for them.

“We are also looking at instituting an eVisa system which means you could sit down in your home and apply for your visa electronically to come to Sierra Leone. We are investing in infrastructure.

“Tourism means a lot for the future of Sierra Leone. We see it as an entry point for re-branding Sierra Leone. We want to send a strong signal to the world that Sierra Leone is open for business and also for tourism.

“We see the tourism sector as one of the vehicles to drive diversification of the economy. We see that it is able to stimulate growth and also build an economic base that offers jobs for boys and girls across the country,” said Jalloh.

You can watch vice president Jalloh speaking about these big changes here:

9 Comments

  1. You are welcome Mr. Cooper. We can agree and disagree. That does not mean that we should be discourteous with one another. Let us keep the debate rolling in good faith.

    I don’t have problems with criticisms. Criticisms are always welcome.
    God bless us all and Long Live Our Republic.

  2. Mr cooper,I want to believe that his administration is working towards fulfilling it campaign promises especially on the economy, which is a must for them to do, but has to be done very carefully and rightly. However,Granting free visas to visitors, especially businessmen,tourists etc, all with the hope to improve the economy is in my view not the right strategy. Especially taking into consideration the security threat to our world today- particularly Sierra Leone with such a very weak apparatuses in place.

    I believe a lot is expected from this administration and they are doing their best trying to get it done.But the idea of “FREE VISAS” to all visitors,is just not the right move at all.Though you said the authorities have the discretion to choose who to let in, I see it unlikely happening to an administration that is so desperate in fulfilling campaign economic pledge. Remember, bad people can use free visa advantage to carry out their evil plan. I am worried!.

  3. I thank you very much for your nicely worded lecture Mr. Cooper. But it seems you misunderstood the points I was trying to make and completely out of context. First of all, your criticism of my comments does not match the topics in the article.
    I am not talking about how universities in the U.S. operate. I was simply talking about what needs to be done in Sierra Leone to help with our middle manpower workforce. Again read my comment carefully.

    Does FBC offer certificate courses on the the areas you have mentioned? Please give an answer. My comments on the visa issue were very clear. My concern was on security matters and not on issuance of visas or entry authorizations.

    I would assume that everyone knows that the threat of terrorism is real and no country is immune. It is better for visitors to apply for their visas before they fly. This will reduce the work load on immigration officers. It will also save a lot of time with the arrival process at the airport or the borders. It is better to stop bad people out there than to stop them on our doorsteps.

    Moreover, let’s don’t compare Sierra Leone with the U.S. in anyway. Finally, I will be very happy to get a reply from you. Thank you very much.

    • My brother Mr. Matturi, I like discussions of this nature. Be rest assured that I will keep it civil. Now to the points. My reference to the United States was not meant to compare Sierra Leone with the United States. It was meant to demonstrate the fact that models of social, economic or scientific transformation that have proven to be successful elsewhere can be successfully replicated in Sierra Leone.

      Accordingly, if the two-year Associate degree program offered on American college campuses can be a bridge between a high school diploma and a college degree while also playing a pivotal role in addressing America’s middle manpower problems, I believe that same can be adapted to Sierra Leonean conditions.

      You asked: “Does FBC offer certificate courses on the areas you have mentioned?” I do not have a catalogue of certificate courses at Fourah Bay College. But I do remember certificate programs in Library Science and Engineering existing at that institution in the past. Notwithstanding this, Njala University has two large campuses in Bo offering certificate programs in Business Administration, Accounting, Community Nursing, Dental Hygiene etc,.

      Moreover, looking at the website of Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema, I see diploma courses in Carpentry, Electricity, Construction Work, Computer Studies and Public Health. There is also the Northern Polytechnic in Makeni offering similar programs.

      Furthermore, the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology in the Western Area offers various courses that address the middle manpower needs of Sierra Leone. And before I forget, there is also the Opportunities Industrial Center (OIC) in Bo, Lungi and other towns geared towards middle manpower education.

      What the forgoing illustrates is that there is no shortage of institutions for the development of middle manpower in Sierra Leone. It follows that while these institutions may need funding for development, we must not be oblivious of the fact that we lag other African countries in university education.

      We have only one medical school and only three physicians per 100,000 citizens. This is an abysmal ratio that must be corrected if we are to be serious about raising the life expectancy of 46 years, which is the lowest in the world. We must also devise strategies to reduce the child and maternal mortality rates, which are the highest in the world.

      Our universities are bereft of academics because we are not producing academics and researchers as countries like Ghana are doing. As mentioned in my earlier comments, there is an increasing number of bachelor’s degree holders teaching at Fourah Bay College and Njala. This is worrisome and appalling to say the least. Western university education in sub-Saharan Africa started in Sierra Leone. But we have long fallen behind.

      As I write, I have just received a text from a friend indicating that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has admitted Njala University into its J-Well Fellows Program that will give Njala students the opportunity to pursue Master’s and Ph.D degree programs at MIT. This is good news. It shows that president Bio’s education initiative has begun bearing fruits.

      Relative to the no visa program intimated by vice president Jalloh, I think the vice president has seen how such programs work in other countries and would want to adapt same to Sierra Leone. A United States citizen, for example, can travel to 166 countries, many in Europe, that are visa-free or with visa on arrival. Does that mean that those countries are lax on security? No. It simply means that a visa-free program expedites the travel process while encouraging tourism growth, which is good for the economy. The passengers are screened at the port of entry.

      Again, I am not comparing Sierra Leone with the United States. All I am intimating is that programs that have worked elsewhere can be successfully adapted to Sierra Leonean conditions.

    • Brother Maturi, I wish I know what that phrase means…Maybe doing it in English next time will help me greatly….Lol….

  4. I respect our Vice President very much, but I disagree with some of the points made by him according to this article.
    According to this statement and I quote’ Speaking in Freetown, the vice president spoke about the government’s intention to put university education at the centre of government’s drive to improve the country’s workforce and bridge skills gap.’. This is not what we need at the moment. We need increased investment in VOCATIONAL TRAINING(SKILLED WORKERS) if we were to achieve the goals the Vice President has just outlined. Is Sierra Leone not tired of dumping graduates on the streets without jobs?

    All what the Vice President wants to achieve are all good, but I believe that the wrong approach is being taken. Vocational training plays a greater roll on the workforce for tourism in particular than academics in my opinion. You need for example more catering staffs, beach security guards, life guards, bar tenders, tourists guides, to name a few. You don’t need university graduates to do these jobs. They can, but it is not necessary.

    Sierra Leone has a large number of students who have completed their secondary education but could not go to university for one reason or the other. These students can be made useful and contribute to the country by giving them the opportunity to enter vocational training establishments that can train them in different fields.

    We also have a large number of men and women who lost their educational rights because of the war. Is anybody listening to them or making provisions so that they can be useful to themselves and the country? Remember that MIDDLE MAN POWER is very important to our national, industrial and manufacturing development. Why not just dumb the money in building vocational institutions?

    Also, I disagree with the Vice President on the issue of Visa Free entry to the country. By saying that people will get visa on arrival is not a good idea for the security of the country in my view. Sierra Leone should at least try to know people before they enter the country. Everyone knows what is happening all over the world in terms of security right now. So, strict visa rules before entry should not be overlooked no matter what the reason for visiting the country is.

    However, I agree with the VP on some other points. For example, where he said and I quote ‘The aim of the Bio led government he said, is to expand the private sector so as to create jobs and grow the economy so that government can earn more revenue through taxation rather than borrowing or seeking international aid.’. This a very good idea. You hardly hear such brilliant comments from politicians in Sierra Leone.

    Another area where I agree with the VP is where he said and I quote’ Government does not directly create jobs but creates the necessary environment that enables the private sector to create jobs’. The private sector should assist in this regard. If the government creates the right environment for the private sector to operate, then the private sector must play their part.

    Finally, I respect the Vice President’s views and I applaud and respect him as always. LONG LIVE THE VICE PRESIDENT and his vision for the good of the country. AMEN AND AMEN.

    • Mr. Matturi,

      Interesting points. But who says that a vocational education cannot be offered on the campus of a university? The last time I checked, American universities were offering certificate courses in computer science, engineering, nursing, etc. It is not every student of an American university that is enrolled in a degree program.

      Also, in a country where there are only 3 medical doctors per 100,000 citizens, do you believe that one medical school is enough?

      Moreover, how many Ph.Ds do Sierra Leonean universities produce a year? And are you okay with the increased number of Bachelor’s degree holders teaching at our universities? Arguably, the lesser the number of Ph.D holders in a country, the lesser the ability or incentive for research and development, which is a very important component of nation building.

      Lastly, I disagree with you on your position on the issuance of visas. Visas only allow visitors, students and businessmen to travel to a country. They do not guarantee entry into any country. When a traveler arrives at a port of entry, he/she is interrogated by an immigration officer who will determine whether or not that traveler is fit to be granted entry. Therefore, refusal of entry even with a valid visa can be expected to be a normal aspect of transaction of the immigration department of any country.

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