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Inside UNIMAK – Sierra Leone Trade Minister on Capacity Building

Inside UNIMAK – Sierra Leone Trade Minister on Capacity Building

On 26th April 2013, which was the eve of Sierra Leone’s 52nd Independence Anniversary, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Honorable Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara, delivered a thrilling lecture in the University of Makeni (UNIMAK). The well chosen and timely topic of the lecture was, “The Importance of Capacity Building in the Agenda for Prosperity.”  (Photo: Minister of Trade and Industry Delivering the Lecture)

In his prelude to the lecture, Honorable Boie Kamara expressed profound delight and appreciation for being given the honor to stand before the university to reflect the major challenges Sierra Leone is facing along the path to development, and to present the prospect within the realm of the ‘Agenda for Prosperity.’

Cross Section of UNIMAK Students

Cross Section of UNIMAK Students

The minister noted that over the past 50 years, the country has witnessed a mixture of governance systems from one party, to military rule, to democracy. The nation, he said, has felt the joy of independence, the shock of a brutal senseless rebel war, the hardship of rehabilitation and infrastructural development, and the hope of better days to come.

He described the lecture topic as ideal, timely, and crucial to this moment of our history when the nation is facing the challenges of transition from war to peace building, by focusing on restoring peace and security, good governance, youth empowerment, gender mainstreaming, economic recovery, infrastructural development. and providing essential services to the most vulnerable groups in the country.

Delivering the lecture, the Trade Minister cited two UNDP definitions of capacity building which were the crux of the lecture topic.  One of the definitions is that capacity building encompasses the country’s human, scientific, technological organizational, institutional and resource capacity. The fundamental goal of capacity building is to enhance the ability to evaluate the crucial questions related to policy choices and modes of implementation among development functions, based on the understanding of environment potentials and limits of needs perceived by the people of a country concerned.

Honorable Boie Kamara gave the other definition of capacity building as the creation of an enabling environment with appropriate policy and legal framework, institutional development including community participation, human resource development, band strengthening of managerial systems. He pointed out that UNDP proffered this definition in recognition of the fact that capacity building is a long term continuing process in which all stakeholders, ministries, local governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, professional associations, academics and others do participate. Hon. Boie Kamara noted that the two UNDP definitions clearly explain the importance of capacity building to our ‘Agenda for Prosperity.’

The minister defined ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ as a holistic, environment-oriented program of action plan of the Government of Sierra Leone that spans from 2012 to 2017, built on the following eight pillars:

Economic Diversification to Promote Inclusive Growth – focusing on government’s ability to diversify sources of growth, to improve manufacturing, tourism and fisheries that will be accompanied by employment and benefits of growth to be shared by all.

Managing Natural Resources – focusing on ensuring that Sierra Leone’s natural resources are effectively managed, to ensure that they become a blessing, rather than a curse.

Accelerating Human Development -focusing on ensuring the expansion and achievement of free health care and quality education.

International Competitiveness – focusing on making Sierra Leone more attractive to foreign direct investment through improving infrastructure for investment, and providing competitive industries, all of which roles fall within the ambit of the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Employment and Labour Strategy – looking at building a robust and comprehensive national employment strategy, focusing primarily on the cause and consequences of unemployment and underemployment.  This concentrates on providing employment particularly for the youths.

Social Protection – dealing with developing a strategy for promoting the aged, vulnerable, and physically challenged, to ensure that no one is left behind as the country moves ahead.

Governance and Public Sector Reform – focusing on setting up a clear pathway for the public sector reform to ensure that the public sector delivers a better change for Sierra Leone for the next five years.  Issues of corruption, law reform, decentralization and transparency are to be dealt with.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment – looking at empowering women and girls through education, participation in decision making, access to equal justice and economic opportunities.

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