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Op-Ed: Restoring Growth in Sierra Leone After Ebola

Op-Ed: Restoring Growth in Sierra Leone After Ebola

The people of Sierra Leone have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to overcome challenges and lift themselves up. With the end of the civil war in 2002, the country set a strong democratic precedent and launched on a path of rapid economic growth. But the tragic Ebola epidemic suddenly interrupted the nation’s positive trajectory.  (Photo: author, Dana J. Hyde)

The United States is proud of its partnership with the government and people of Sierra Leone to tackle Ebola, and the U.S. will continue to support the nation’s recovery and the restoration of long-term economic growth to advance the fight against poverty.

As head of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, I am delighted to visit Sierra Leone to meet with public and private sector partners who are advancing MCC’s $44 million threshold program.  MCC is a unique U.S. Government agency committed to reducing poverty through economic growth, and its partnership with Sierra Leone aims to strengthen public sector institutions in the water and power sectors and build a foundation for sustainable development at a critical time in the nation’s history.

The program, launched last year and aligned with Sierra Leone’s own recovery priorities, aims to improve the delivery of electricity and water to businesses and homes, especially in Freetown.  It will strengthen public regulation and accountability, and it will create a framework for sustainable public and private investment in both of these sectors—building on the progress that the Government of Sierra Leone has already made.

To build accountability mechanisms specifically within the water and electric utility companies, the threshold program, for example, leverages Sierra Leone’s “Pay No Bribe” program. By focusing on the power and water sectors, MCC is investing in areas critical to unlocking economic growth in Sierra Leone. Improvements to the power sector mean more students can study at night, hospitals can treat patients with better equipment, and businesses can grow and thrive. Recognizing the fundamental need for reliable electricity, the U.S. Government’s Power Africa program aims to increase access to electricity across the continent, and MCC is making the largest investment in the goals of Power Africa in Sierra Leone to date.

In the water sector, MCC is supporting key reforms at the water utility that aim to improve access to clean water. I look forward to visiting with leadership and staff from the Ministry of Water Resources and Guma Valley Water Company during my visit, as well as community operators of water kiosks and standpipes in Freetown, to learn more about how MCC’s programs are supporting families and businesses.

Thanks to the strong partnership between the United States and the Government of Sierra Leone, MCC’s investments are on schedule and moving forward. I am confident in what we can achieve together to bring a more prosperous future to the people of Sierra Leone.

The author is Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Chief Executive Officer, Dana J. Hyde.

United States Mission Sierra Leone  Public Affairs Office

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