For sustainable economic growth Sierra Leone becoming a center of world attention
In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa has become one of the most significant targets for sustainable economic growth. Most countries across the continent are to a very large extent still behind the rest of the world in terms of development. Several problems ranging from the struggle towards establishing but more so implementing sound economic and good governance policies to civil and political unrests across some Africa countries have been stifling the region´s growth.
Thus the need to boost the continent’s economic growth has become the subject of much contested debates in the international media as well as public and political arena. For example, a well known British newspaper, The Economist, was in 2000, still describing Africa as a lost continent. Today, that description is obviously different. In its March 2013 publication, the newspaper described the continent as hopeful and is presently rising, stressing further that Africa has grown higher than East Asia and Japan.
This is a remarkable feat that we as Africans should be proud of. We should especially be content with efforts made by our respective countries in striving towards putting sound policies in place to achieve sustainable development. The small West African state of Sierra Leone which gradually embraced the path towards sound economic growth in the aftermath of its abhorrent past is a key example and my point of focus in this piece.
Recently, the country has been the center of world attention and major news headlines in widely read international newspapers and magazines especially The Economist and The Guardian in Britain, and Handelsblatt in Germany, have been trumpeting the remarkable achievements made in the country´s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and thus economic growth. According to reports contained in the aforementioned media, Sierra Leone’s domestic growth for 2013 is projected at 17 percent, making it the star of Africa. The IMF has also predicted a double digit increase in the country’s growth and possibly, it will become the world’s second fastest growing country by 2014.
However, factors leading to Sierra Leone’s enviable position in the International media and its economic boom are not by any means accidental. The robust economic growth is attributed to the country’s astute and committed leadership, which has seen the need to establish stringent measures and implement several reforms with vigorous monetary policies to control inflation.
Other reforms aiming at fighting corruption, improving the ease of doing business in the country and the reduction of poverty are equally on track following the introduction of the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P), a successor to the Agenda for Change (A4C). The A4P was introduced by government to build on the gains made by the A4C and set forth a distinctive road map to further increase economic growth, employment and add value to the production of raw materials across the country. With verse mineral resources in the country, growth is also driven by the mining sector especially the production of iron ore and agricultural activities.
The President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma believes that there can be no sustainable development without sound economic growth. This is why the establishment of a National Vision for Sustainable Agricultural Development plan underscores the importance of fostering increased agricultural productivity, promotes commercial agriculture through the private sector, and improves research and extension service delivery amongst others. While meeting the demand for food is essential prerequisite for successful development, the Ministry of Agriculture, charged with the responsibility of designing and implementing agricultural programmes introduced a Smallholder Commercialization Program (SCP) in Sierra Leone in an effort to transform the agricultural process and called for Individual farms to move a step further from subsistence farming to a specialized production. The SCP is also targeting markets for their input procurement and output supply. Several other programmes like the establishment of Agricultural Business Centres with adequate facilities like rice mills, cassava grating machines amongst others were packaged in the SCP. Today, Sierra Leone´s economy is as well an agricultural economy.
As mentioned earlier, the mining sector is another major source that contributes immensely to the country’s economy. According to a case study undertaken by a Global Development professionals Network and published in a leading UK based newspaper, The Guardian, “The resulting stability, institutional effectiveness and transparency has had, and continues to have, significant impact on investor confidence, economic development of the sector and corporate compliance.”
With support from Adam Smith International, a leading global advisory firm that helps world economies and intuitions in their reform strategies, the government of Sierra Leone developed a five year programme aimed at boosting its revenues and ensuring sustainable equitable economic growth in the country. The programme established legislative, institutional and economic reforms, regulations and national mineral agency to transform government capacity thus ensuring effective mining sector governance. Since then, several achievements have been made after transforming the mineral sector through the aforementioned guidelines. Hence, Sierra Leone has now become a new investment destination in Africa, with enormous potentials for foreign direct investment.
In the midst of the abovementioned is the tourism sector, which the Director of Sierra Leone’s National Tourist Board, Cecil J. Williams, once described as a catalyst for not only economic growth, but also has a multiplying effect that touches on all facet of society. According to Sierra Leone business fact sheet, “The World Travel & Tourism Centre projections suggest that the Travel & Tourism Economy in Sierra Leone is expected to grow by 5.8% per annum in real terms between 2010 and 2019” This is mainly because the country offers significant opportunities in the business sector and its among the ten top destination across the globe.
Being a focused, committed and motivated government, the country under the leadership of a businessman turned politician, President Ernest Bai Koroma, has targeted tourism and other key sectors as a development strategy to meet the demands necessary for economic boom that will eventually benefit a large part of the country’s population. In the tourism sector, the government has put in place institutional capacity building including reforms to further facilitate investment opportunities.
Again, I will emphasis that the outstanding achievements made in the country within a period characterised by global economic recess should be attributed to the country’s dynamic leadership. Thanks to the people of Sierra Leone for their wise decision to re-elect President Koroma, who by all indication, has proven to the world that he can make a difference in societal change.
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