17 October 2007
1 October 2007
Congratulations to the new President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma. His is the unenviable task of tackling Sierra Leone’s economic challenges amidst really high expectations. He was declared the winner on 17th September after the second round of the Presidential elections. The people of Sierra Leone voted for change – a different direction.
He has a huge task ahead of him with unemployment, education, energy, health and trade amongst the most urgent. A little birdie told me that energy is right at the top of his list of priorities. Now this would be sensible, especially if we’re serious about attracting investment – and is seen as one of the most glaring failures of the past government. In short, unless the electricity situation is addressed, the people will see no change.
An appealing characteristic of President Koroma is that he comes from a business background, our very own entrepreneur President. Of course this is not a guarantee or criteria for success but it does offer an alternative mind set. We can start to replace our donor driven economy by one driven by real trade. The president has even singled out Tourism and Agriculture as areas he feels have much scope for growth. Bravo I say.
Of course he is making all the right noises, vowing war on graft saying “There will be no sacred cows. Everybody will be under scrutiny and if they are found guilty of corruption they will go to prison, including my family members” He has also pledged to provide clean water and electricity to all. One of his first actions was to request an audit of all government departments and parastatals and forming a transition team to do this. Just this weekend he also said all ex-ministers will now have to take travel clearance from the Inspector General of police before traveling. President Koroma has also stated on many instances the desire to include the Diaspora, who also have a key role to play.
We now eagerly await the announcement of his first cabinet which will be the first clear signal of intent.
I applaud his initial moves and I wish him all the best. There is a buzz around Sierra Leone and the largely peaceful elections would have done wonders for the country's image. There is a renewed sense of hope and optimism which is a vital catalyst for development. These are my only words to the President if I may be so bold: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. May you never lose momentum and may the drive, dedication and passion you have shown in your early days be with you always.”