Africa is suddenly taking center stage in world politics. From Ivory Coast to Libya and from Kenya to Sierra Leone, the world’s headlines whether for bad or good, has been primarily focused on our continent. But for more good reasons than bad, Africa’s new political outlook has been the focus of world attention as democratic leaders emerge to implement a new kind of strategy for change in how business is done across Africa; and to secure for the continent a vibrant future.
There has become a more apparent need for new politics and economics, as the people demand accountability, good governance and transparency from their leaders.Democracy is slowly becoming the standard of governance in a continent that has only known dictators as leaders for most part of its recent history.
Slow as the pace towards development has been, the desire to make an impact has suddenly become the trademark of a new type of leadership that is positioned to move the continent from its abysmal record of poverty, corruption, disease, and conflict, to a more prosperous, forward-thinking and conscientious community of nations, with development at its very heart. Africa’s new leadership has now realized that the people have become more savvy and less tolerant of complacent and corrupt administrations, and are influencing dramatic change that would have otherwise been impossible just a few years ago. The people are demanding more say in how they are governed than ever before. They are becoming more involved in nation building and taking their responsibilities as citizens more seriously. They are demanding change, one that has become long overdue as governments have repeatedly failed to deliver on promises.
The performance of the Sierra Leone president, Ernest Bai Koroma, is a classic example of how Africa can transform its political and economic agenda to reflect on current global trends of a more democratic and engaging national approach in dealing with the menace of corruption, graft, mismanagement and poor delivery of services. Dr Bai Koroma has demonstrated that through political will and determination, the courage to steer through much needed change within the economic and political infrastructure of a country, can easily be invoked when one challenges the plight a country faces by demanding attitudinal change and instituting a robust approach to dealing with the ills of society. Sierra Leone enjoys unprecedented political and press freedom, as its leadership strives to protect human rights and liberty. The Head of State believes that the only way development and change can be achieved is when our freedom is protected, and our human rights guaranteed. Even though some members of the country’s press have blatantly abused the press freedom now enjoyed across the country, the president has not wavered in his commitments, as Sierra Leone is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has not seen one journalist arrested or detained for criticizing the sitting Head of State or government. It is incredible that such can be achieved in African standards, but it is also a clear indication, that the Sierra Leone president means business as he presses ahead with the momentum for change.
Since assuming office just close to four years ago, Ernest Bai Koroma has defied all odds, and has moved swiftly to design a framework that will address the poor civil service structure, badly managed economy, blatant abuse of the country’s resources by corrupt and inept public officials, ineffective educational system, poor health service delivery, badly constructed and poorly maintained road networks, and inadequate energy supply. There has been a complete overhaul in the administrative machinery and revenue collection process, and a more transparent and effective system of governance has taken hold, discouraging the once graft-plagued civil-service network of unscrupulous officials. The Anti-corruption Commission has been empowered to go after anyone anywhere found wanting of siphoning public funds for personal use. The personal aggrandizement philosophy practiced by most public officials has now been seriously targeted and discouraged. Corruption is still prevalent, but not as rampant as it used to be under the past SLPP government, that saw public officials even competing as to who has the most expensive car or biggest mansion.
Business is not as usual in Sierra Leone. The investment climate has been vastly improved and is now extremely attractive, as the recent influx of major world companies tapping into the abundant mineral resources the country has to offer, has clearly showcased the change in government policies geared to protect the interest of both the local economy and dividends for investors. African Minerals, one of the world’s top mining companies, headed by the consummate business icon, Frank Timis, has made the biggest investment in the mining industry the country has ever seen. Timis has ensured his company plays a vital role in Sierra Leone’s national development process. Sierra Leone is now more secure and stable, reflective of the sudden surge in tourist numbers and the government making tourism a top priority in its agenda for change. President Koroma has not limited his commitment to change within the scope of his country’s national agenda, his involvement in conflict resolution across Africa has been well endorsed by his colleagues in the region, who had on several occasion called on his wise leadership to intervene in recent political standoffs both in Guinea and in Ivory Coast. He was one of the first African leader to tell Laurent Gbagbo that he should step down or face military action from the regional ECOWAS organisation. Gbagbo’s intransigence led to his arrest and subsequent removal from political office in Ivory Coast.
First published on Newstime Africa - Oct 31, 2011
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