President Bio for his bold economic reforms and added that she recognized the President’s aspiration for the dignity of a nation and standing in the world. She said “President Bio’s agenda will guarantee his legacy and place in history.”
Also commending President Bio, the World Bank Vice President for Africa Region, Hafez Ghanem said “we are impressed with your performance just 10 months in Office. So we are ready to support your government.” The meeting discussed a range of issues from increased World Bank Support to Sierra Leone under IDA-18 (US$ 325m); progress on the new Extended Credit Facility (US$ 172m) under the program with the International Monetary Fund; fiscal consolidation efforts by the Government of Sierra Leone; plans on debt restructuring and arrears clearance (US$ 1.4 billion) and prospects for financing the gap of US$1.5 billion under the country’s new Medium-term National Development Plan (2019–2023).
President Bio expressed appreciation to the World Bank for the support to his new government and Sierra Leone. He stated that the new development paradigm in Sierra Leone has ensured strategic shifts toward (i) Human Capital Development for national development (ii) Science, Technology and Innovation and (iii) greater Private Sector Participation to address the country’s vast infrastructure needs and support its growth prospects. He also spoke about his determination to fight corruption. The meeting included discussions on Sierra Leone’s new Medium-term National Development Plan (2019–2023) and the strategic alignment with the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF).
The meeting concluded with agreements on the following: a World Bank’s support to the energy sector through additional financing for electricity generation, distribution and transmission; a proposed roundtable discussion on Energy in April 2019 during the World Bank/IMF Spring meetings; commitment to rural electrification and solar energy; support to women and girls through women’s empowerment, addressing high maternal mortality, addressing girls education and incentives to keep girls in school and support to reproductive health services; support to the private sector growth; increased access to internet; increased budgetary assistance and the additional support for social safety nets for vulnerable groups, women, and youth, including people living with disabilities.
The increased financial support to President Bio coinciding with his first year anniversary in office demonstrates the international economic credibility President has restored in Sierra Leone. He inherited a country which the International Monetary Fund had suspended its Extended Credit Facility in 2017 because of economic mismanagement by the previous government. President Bio has also shown sterling leadership by investing in Human Capital Development and earned the confidence of donors and international community. It can be recalled that the World Bank has also recognized Sierra Leone as an “Early Adopter” of the Global Human Capital Development Project because of government’s commitment to human capital development.
Other senior management officials from the World Bank in attendance at the meeting with President Julius Maada Bio were Hafez Ghanem (Vice President for Africa Region), Annette Dixon (Vice President for Human Development), Henry Kerali (Country Director for Sierra Leone) and Gayle Martin (Country Manager for Sierra Leone). High ranking officials from the Government of Sierra Leone included Professor David Francis (Chief Minister), Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai (Sierra Leone Ambassador to the US), Patricia Laverley (Deputy Minister of Finance), Dr Moinina David Sengeh (Director, Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation) and Sahr Jusu (Financial Secretary). The Technical teams on both sides will work together to develop a more robust pipeline of transformative projects to deliver in Sierra Leone.