While, Sierra Leone Minister of Information and Communications Alhaji Alpha Kanu and Senior Government officials were engaged at a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Town Hall Meeting recently in Maryland, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr. Samura Kamara was briefing the Security Council on Peace building and development agenda 217 miles away at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The Security Council, in unanimous resolution adopted on March 26, 2013 extended the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) mission until March 31, 2014 when it will draw down and its responsibilities transferred to the UN country team.
Prior to Minister Kamara’s briefing, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIPSIL, Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen lauded the new “Agenda for Prosperity” strategy which he said laid the foundation for rapid and sustainable economic growth, as well as democratic transformation by focusing on key economic, social and governance sectors.
However, Toyberg-Frandzen told the Security Council that implementing the five-year development plan for 2013 – 2018 would cost about $6 billion but the country is facing a funding gap of more than $2 billion. He stressed the need to close the financing gap by gathering far greater international support and increasing national resources through foreign and domestic investment.
Still, Toyberg-Frandzen noted the UN exit strategy remained on course to meet the March 2014 deadline.
He described the launch of the constitutional review on July 30 as a significant development process “led and owned by the people of Sierra Leone.” He also urged the government to make fighting corruption a top priority, ensuring the professionalism and independence of the security and justice sectors, building the capacity of national institutions, including Parliament and most importantly to work together to advance development. .
Addressing the Security Council Foreign Minister Mr. Samura Kamara said, “The progress we have collectively made in improving the peace, security and stability provides a platform for rolling out the agenda for prosperity, the road map to the attainment of middle income and donor country status within the next 25 to 50 years.”
“Thus in launching the agenda for prosperity on the 12 July of this year, H.E. President Ernest B Koroma called on all Sierra Leoneans and development partners to put hands on deck in support of this very ambitious development framework. The Agenda for prosperity embraces the nexus between development, peace, security and stability. For us it is an incremental part towards building a sustainable future for Sierra Leone after the Agenda for Change, which ended last year,” Minister Kamara said.
Minister Kamara also stressed, “The development framework which represents Sierra Leone poverty reduction strategy is anchored on the following 8 pillars compared to 4 pillars in the Agenda for Change. He identified economic diversification to promote inclusive green growth, better management of our natural resources, accelerating progress on the millennium development goals for human development, improving the country’s international competiveness, ensuring a more focus employment and labor strategy, ensuring social protection, strengthening governance, public sector reform and finally mainstreaming gender.”
During a recent interview on African New Dawn Radio which airs on WRSU, 88.7 FM Sierra Leonean born Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Dr. Kandeh Yumkella said like most African countries, Sierra Leone is behind in a number of indicators to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. But could do so probably in the next decade.
“Sierra Leone now is lucky we have discovered a lot of minerals, we have also discovered oil and gas. I believe if we invest in the necessary social infrastructures perhaps that can achieve its millennium development goals and transform the economy into a middle income country in 15 – 20 years if there is education and appropriate action is taken,” Dr. Kandeh said.
The 8 MDGs are eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, Improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
With a population of 5.9 million, Sierra Leone has a 60 % Poverty Rate, per capita income US$ 340 and ranks 151st in the 2013 Economic index.
According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone has $ 1,048,777,000 billion external debt