Prior to the recent Ebla outbreak in West Africa, Sierra Leone’s economy was the fastest growing in sub-Saharan Africa. with a dynamic president whose passion was to implement first an Agenda for Change, and subsequently an Agenda for Prosperity, the country became the bastion of economic prosperity in the region as major investment companies rallied to take on the abundant natural resources that manufacturers were scrambling for across the world. From China to the UK, fortune 500 companies were astonished to see excellence in economic and political governance take center stage as Sierra Leone restructured its enterprise sector to facilitate easy access to doing business with most red tape cut and a favourable business environment installed to attract all those who wanted to tap into the vast mineral and agricultural potential the country has to offer.
The enabling environment was not purely limited to the economy, press freedom and access to information, two of the most crucial building blocks of democracy became the bedrock and foundation for political and social reconstruction that the Koroma government made priorities, as it sets to establish a democratic model unseen and unheard of in the sub-region. President Koroma has slowly built a state that has now become the yardstick and example that the west looks to in determining Africa’s progress in development. The first country in sub-Saharan Africa with a Transparent governance agenda, taking the initiative to establish a transparency website that provides access to information as to how government dispenses funds and to hold government accountable in how the economy is managed , with an Anti-corruption Commission that is solely independent, operating with unprecedented draconian laws protecting its mandate, making it the most effective and efficient anti-corruption entity across the region. The commission is headed by an outstanding Sierra Leonean with impeccable credentials backed by international recognition and merit – having served in various capacity that required the highest international standards, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara (The Anti-Corruption Commissioner) has become the embodiment of hope as Sierra Leone carves its way to prosperity once more and regain its crown as the Athens of West Africa.
Focus also shifted to gender rights as women’s right became a priority in the Koroma-led administration. Attention was also given to public sector workers as salaries and benefits were increased. On the International stage, the Head of State continued to advocate for Africa to have permanent seats at the UN Security council, and as Chairman of the African Union committee – (C10) on the reform of the UN, to advocate and champion this – his voice became loud on the issues for Africa to have more say on how the UN governs itself.
As Ebola struck, some were wondering whether the economy will recover from the devastating consequences of this terrible virus that knew no boundaries and attacked the viable manual and skilled labour force with rage unseen before across the world. The epidemic tried and tested the meagre health infrastructures that were being built upon through the Agenda for prosperity, and crumbled to its knees as demand for both its human and material capacity became difficult to cope with. No one ever envisaged that a dangerous virus like Ebola would have ever spread its tentacles to West Africa, so neither the World Health Organisation, nor the government of Sierra Leone, were prepared for its ferocity. The death toll would have even been worst if not for the timely and excellent leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma who immediately set up the health infrastructures to deal with this unprecedented menace. The timely intervention of Outstanding Aid Organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), OXFAM, UNICEF, CHRISTIAN AID and the UK, US, and EU governments contributions made a huge impact on how the tracks of the disease was stopped to prevent more unnecessary deaths. Tribute must be paid to the selfless efforts of all the aid teams that went in and individuals including NHS UK staff that made the huge sacrifice and took the highest risks to lend their help and support in helping the sick. Countries like Nigeria and the Gambia also offered direct support and Assistance that made a difference. The sacrifices of local health workers and burial teams played a defined role in stopping the disease, and many of them lost their lives in the process.
As the Virus tore through the hinterlands of Sierra Leone, the country needed strong leadership to direct its course out of the disaster the virus left on its trails. Once more, President Ernest Bai Koroma rose to the occasion, and didn’t disappoint, as a National Emergency Response Center (NERC) was established with full mandate to deal with and stop the virus spreading. The Head of State appointed an excellent team to manage the affairs of NERC headed by the Defence Minister, Palor Conteh. As the team went to work, the Head of State did not relent as he took upon himself to monitor the work of the team and travelled to all four corners of the country from village to village expressing solidarity with the people in a most difficult of circumstances.
The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) partnered with the government of Sierra Leone to pursue remedies in halting the spread of the Virus. The remarkable effort made by the Agency’s head, Tom Frieden, shuttling back and forth from Atlanta to Freetown was a clear demonstration of how serious the US government under President Obama, took the health crisis. And the US played an important role as Military personnel were sent to the region to help contain the spread of the virus.
Immediately as it became clear that the virus was under control, the Sierra Leone president went to work in revitalising the economy and talked to stakeholders about the need to re-establish the economic framework that will bring about not only a complete recovery but long lasting solutions to the problems that became evident during the outbreak. Despite the outbreak, the head of sate had his eye on the economy with particular attention to companies operating in the country and ensured that they were assured of government support throughout the crisis. The country is once more positioned for economic prosperity as the world says goodbye to Ebola.
© 2015, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.
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