Sierra Leone Telegraph: 06 June 2020:
The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors discussed a new Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone for 2021-2026, which prioritizes investments in human capital, job creation, economic diversification and building a resilient health system.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 5.1 percent in 2019 driven mainly by robust activities in agriculture and services.
With the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone and the effects of the global pandemic, the economy is estimated to contract by between 2.3 and 3.1 percent in 2020 and growth could be 1.4 to 2.0 percentage points lower than forecast for the medium term.
Within its fragile context, the country was already facing a human capital crisis with the lowest life expectancy (51 years) and high maternal and child mortality. For example, more than a tenth of new-borns die before reaching age of five and the country has the highest maternal mortality globally.
A key challenge for the Government is to diversify the economy to raise real income per capita growth above the population growth of 2.1 percent in order to ensure that the gains in reducing poverty and inequality are sustained.
“The new strategy is about people and jobs, and how to support Sierra Leone in advancing economic recovery and poverty reduction, which is critical in the face of the human and economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
Guided by the priorities of the government’s Medium-Term National Development Plan, the World Bank Group’s three areas of support are to:
- Build human capital and social inclusion: this involves improving the quality of education, enhancing access to quality reproductive, maternal and child health services and early warning disease surveillance systems; and scaling up social safety-nets.
- Boosting competitiveness and economic diversification: the Bank will support the expansion of access to an affordable energy and sustainable energy mix through developing a least-cost sector expansion plan with a focus on renewables. It will also promote the use of digital technologies and greater competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises in the agribusiness, fisheries and tourism sectors.
- Strengthening accountability and macro-fiscal stability: this means strengthening revenue mobilization and the efficiency of public spending, improving the delivery of essential services, promoting inclusive financial innovations, and enhancing the regulatory environment in the mining and fisheries sectors.
“IFC focuses on promoting reforms that boost competitiveness, spur more inclusive growth and create better quality jobs,” said Babacar Faye, IFC Resident Representative for Sierra Leone.
“Supporting the development of a resilient and competitive private sector-led economy through our integrated advisory and investment engagement, will also help the country in its effort to diversify the economy.”
The IFC’s strategic priorities in Sierra Leone will notably cover three critical focus areas: Agribusiness, Energy, and Mining. Furthermore, IFC’s Creating Market Strategy will continue to support innovative business developments for transformational projects, notably in infrastructure.
MIGA recognizes the need for guarantees in order to attract meaningful foreign investment and sees opportunities to support private investment in power, telecommunication and commercial agriculture sector, in particular supporting independent power projects.
Currently, the country has 12 national and four regional operations receiving IDA funding, amounting to US$584 million, with a focus on human capital, agriculture and agri-processing, energy and strengthening the regulatory and institutional capacity of the extractive sector.
For more information – Contact: Moses A. Kargbo, +232 76 345930, email@example.com
What are the conditions of those loans and grants from IFC? We know they want poor country to be open for business so the western world can (free of tax) mine their minerals.. It’s import to report critically when the intergovernmental organizations, controlled by the western world invest “development” money
What Sierra Leoneans need to understand, the IMF loans is something we as a nation have to repay, and our children and grandchildren have to repay in the future. It is all commendable what the IMF is doing. But it is fair to say our generous Western powers has not been helpful in trying to make us economically independent since we gain our political independence. They see this aid as a quick fix solution to the myriad of problems facing our country, we need a support system to help our economic recovery for the long term. It is in their interest if they want to see a stop to us African people running away from our economically challenged countries in seeking better life in the west.
One way of doing that is to encourage western companies to invest directly in our countries. It will help reduce youth unemployment and increase the standard of living in Sierra Leone. Just imagine life expectancy 51 years and children dying before the age of five one of the highest in the world. Is this the sort of country we should be proud off? In other words any of our countrymen and women who live above 51 years of age, is a bonus by the gods. Take agriculture for instance. Instead of the IMF, giving us the physical money, they should bring in machinery and the know-how and train our small scale farmers on how to increase their output. Given that is not the case right now, imagine you are a farmer producing rice and you employ ten people. Those ten employees have other families to support through the work they do in your farm. Let’s say indirectly about hundred people of families depend on that farm to feed, cloth and pay for their children’s schooling. Nearer the harvest, the government of Sierra leone using IMF loans, decides to import two ships loads of rice maybe for example India or China. What has happened, the government have unwittingly undercut our local rice farmer. Soon he will lay off his workers and stop growing rice all all together . The impact on communities is unimaginable.
Now just think for a moment if the government decides to buy the rice locally from Sierra Leoneans farmers, the difference it will make to all the people employed in his farm and their families they support. Soon this local farmer will be expanding and creating more opportunities. IMF loans undermine development, unless it is tailored specifically for particular projects. BOTSWANA is the only African country that does not go with a begging bowl to the IMF. It is high time our government sends a delegation to that country and ask them what we are doing wrong in Sierra Leone.
This is good news for Sierra Leone. Indeed, good governance attracts the benevolence and cooperation of international development partners. And such cooperation creates partnerships in the capacity for building transformational change. What is now indisputable is the fact that Sierra Leone’s economy was growing before COVID 19 struck. This independent confirmation of the World Bank and the IMF sharply contradicts the propaganda of the duplicitous opposition that Sierra Leone’s economy had contracted under President Julius Maada Bio.
What strikes me most about the renewed and invigorating cooperation between Sierra Leone and the World Bank is its emphasis on economic diversification. Economic diversification will unlock Sierra Leone’s development potential. By developing agribusiness, fisheries and tourism, the country’s age-old dependence on the extractive industries will be halted as it moves from a resource-based economy to a business-based economy.
And for those that have been overly concerned about exchange rates, growth will decrease the local currency’s volatility because growth will allow the country to export more than it imports. The favorable balance of trade that will result will in turn increase the demand for the Leone in international markets thereby leading to the Leone appreciating in value relative to other currencies. Indeed, a post-COVID 19 Sierra Leone will be one with boundless potentials for growth.