Thursday, 30 June 2016

A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: SIERRA LEONE IN FOCUS -- THE EUPHORIA OF CHANGE

A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: SIERRA LEONE IN FOCUS -- THE EUPHORIA OF CHANGE

   Business is the most important engine for social change in this country.
                                                                 Lawrence Perlman         (1938 - )
                                                                                 U.S. business executive.
                                         
      Dialogue is the oxygen of change.
                                                                              Jim Maclachlan 
                                                               U.S. business consultant.
                                                                                             Fortune



A certain wind is blowing through Africa. A certain euphoria has gotten us, and here and there, we are engrossed in the search for a singular ephemeral entity that can galvanize our collective dreams into a plausible reality. Perhaps this would come to pass in a little while. Perhaps in a not too distant future sub-Saharan Africa would usher in the next 'industrial revolution.' Perhaps.

However, a nation caught up in too much of an 'emotional quarry' for change -- a nation bereft of the dispassionate calmness of seasoned reasoning is likely to find itself in a deeper emotional quandary and sometimes a life of unpredicted suffering or more. And this is not just confined to the African situation.


But humour me: Nigeria's change is now on a scale. Toothless smiles from harried faces tell a story a year ago unimagined. BREXIT , or REGREXIT ? Britain's experiment is just begun, yet regrets are setting in early. And if Trump trumps Americans come November, the world had better prepare for the worst.




In Sierra Leone, 2018 is waiting just around the turning. Will the dispassionate calmness of seasoned reasoning lure a restless citizenry to the ocean of diligent search, un-hurried debates and calm considerations? Only time will tell.




But while we brood over this and others, think about this: a nation that over a year ago was devastated by the lethal Ebola Virus seems to be turning the corner. The scars still linger and truly, the infighting and squabbles over Ebola funds and assets have simmered down somewhat, but what's striking is that the government has tied up its shoe laces and started the long walk back to progress.

The government of Sierra Leone, on Monday 20th June launched "The President's Recovery Priorities" . The priorities defined by President Ernest Bai Koroma are: Education, Health, Social Protection, Private Sector Development, Energy, Water and Governance. "

The Honourable Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abubakarr Fofanah in his paper says the government is "focusing on access and services at the community level, rolling out an enhanced Community Health Worker (CHW) programme that will support pregnant women to access service and deliver essential drugs such as malaria treatment to children and children. This new programme will ensure that no Sierra Leonean will find themselves more than 5km from a health worker . By mid 2017 no health facilities should have stock outs of essential drugs. Twenty-nine facilities to care for pregnant women and newborn babies will be brought up to proper standards including sanitation and hygiene facilities. "

The honourable Minister of Education Dr. Minkailu Bah in his paper says : "...We will focus on three core areas: first, we will enhnce school approval and teacher recruitment policy ; second, we will improve learning environments by adding new classrooms in at least 150 severely overcrowded schools and ensuring all schools affected have adequate water and sanitation facilities and third, we will train at least 40,000 teachers on how to effectively deliver new core content in Maths and English."
Perhaps two areas that will be of interest to the international community are the Anti-corruption Commission and the Ports Authority -- areas which normally impact on foreign businesses in Freetown.

Mr. Ady Macauley, Anti-Corruption Commission says : "We will roll out the 'Pay No Bribe' Campaign, which puts the weapons to beat the evil of corruption in Sierra Leone into the hands of the public . It allows individuals to tell us in confidence when they have been asked to pay a bribe for health, education, water, power and police services. Ministries and Agencies will act on this information to tackle bribery hotspots and will report back to the public on the action they have taken"


The General Manager, Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Mr. Abu Bangura says: "We will drive down the time and costs of doing business through the port at Freetown , simplifying and demystifying clearance and export tariffs/ processes and ensuring crucial medical and agricultural supplies get to where they need to be quickly. "



Each arm of government has its own contribution to this impressive desire of government. Indeed these priorities, goals and aspirations of Sierra Leone's government does sound like music to the ears of Sierra Leoneans, but with effectively just a year remaining on this government's tenure will it be able to deliver on its promises? It's a big question and on this rests the hopes of 7 Million Sierra Leoneans.

But really and truly, I feel that if Sierra Leone's government can anchor these Presidential priorities to the world of commerce and business and keep open its channels of discourse and dialogue it would have engineered a process that even regime transitions cannot change. It would have left a lasting and enduring legacy for the people of Sierra Leone. This would be real CHANGE.




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