Ebola, according to the president, halted the progress Sierra Leone was making towards goals like infrastructural development, sustenance of peace, strengthening economic and structural reforms, press freedom and youths and women in high-level employment.
But the good thing about all this, it seems, is that the government apparently learnt some valuable lessons during the gruelling 18 months that Ebola lasted and has therefore formulated a six-point plan to map the way forward. Here is President Koroma’s six-point plan as published in the Wall Street Journal:
Promote social cohesion, education and community mobilization. We need to develop programs and awareness campaigns that reinforce the reforms, working toward gaining the trust of the Sierra Leone people, increasing the legitimacy of government and harnessing the untapped human capital that will be a major safeguard against future crisis. We must therefore improve access to education, develop school food programs and reduce overcrowding in schools.
Develop Sierra Leone’s private economy. We must nurture the growth of a healthy private sector by investing in skills, making support available to small- and medium-size enterprises, improving access to financial services, encouraging business that isn’t dependent on aid financing and supplies the local market, so that it can be sustainable and grow.
Drive economic diversification. We must encourage the growth of industries other than mining, such as agriculture, so the economy is less vulnerable to external shocks.
Invest in national infrastructure. We must build better roads, improve our airport and develop our port. We must also provide better access to electricity and power generation.
Encourage foreign investment. We need to communicate to the international community that Sierra Leone is open for business and end the stigma attached to Ebola while mapping investment opportunities and actively promoting these to potential investors.