President Bio Sacks 3 Ministers

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President Julius Bio, who hires and fires ministers, has reshuffled his cabinet and having three top ministers sacked.

The Ministers who have lost their portfolios are: Dr. Jonathan Tengbeh, Minister of Water Resources, has been replaced by Mr. P. k Lansana. Dr. Joseph Ndanema, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry has been replaced by Mr. Dennis k Vandi; plus a second deputy minister, Dr Abu Bakarr Karim.

The only woman on the list of sacked ministers was Mrs. Bendu Dassama, who was the Minister of Gender and Children`s Affairs, has now given way to Mrs. Manti Tarrawally.

At the same time the cabinet reshuffle has created novelty portfolios, such as the Ministry of Environment with Professor Foday Jaward, as the Minister to be assisted by Mr. Steven Syril James Jusu, who is the Deputy Minister of Environment.

The Ministry of Finance now has a second deputy finance minister, Shek Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura. Dr. Amara Jambai, who was the Chief Medical Officer until 12pm on Thursday, has become the second Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation. 

President Bio has also relinquished the Ministry of Defense and in his place appointed Rtd. Brig. Kellie Conteh, instead. It should be noted that all these presidential appointments are subject to parliamentary approval.

STATS SL CREDIBLE DATA FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Professor Osman Sankoh

A one- minute silence was held to mark the 4th year of the Ebola Remembrance Day during at the launching of the MOHS and Stats SL Demographic and Health Survey on November 7 2019.

A heap of praises was given to Stats SL and the MHOS for presenting credible data based on key indicators from the Demographic and Health Survey 2019.

“Notwithstanding all the challenges, in term of selection of candidates, the process has been credible. The Word Bank, DFID, UNDP and the government have contributed a huge sum of money,” said Dr. Francis Smart, adding that “We had opportunities where we would have done things differently. The methodology we used, the techniques, helped greatly. We welcome you to the preliminary results.”

Dr. Bash-Taqi, chairing the meeting, said that Stats SL has renowned, distinguished personalities at the helm. He said “The world would be looking. It takes a lot to bring such a person as Dr. Smart home to work with us.”

The statistical data collected from May 15 to August 31 2019 by Stats SL fieldworkers were analyzed by an American, Deborah Collison of ICF, which is an independent research organization that provided technical assistance to make sure Stats SL have reliable and credible data. Deborah stated that the response rate was high at the 90s. Highlighting the responses, Ms. Collison said that early childhood mortality rate, which is a basic indication of a country’s socioeconomic situation and quality of life, has gone down to 25% from 28% in 2013. Trends in early childhood mortality rates show a fall in all areas that are from neonatal, infant to under-5 mortality. But there is an imbalance in the provision of anti-natal care for the rural than the urban area women.

The DHS indicators had shown a significant fall in the number of children that were vaccinated in the period 2019 compared to 2013, and a fall in the number that were not vaccinated at all. Ms. Collison did not say why or what factors were responsible. One might argue that government withdrawal of funds from the health providers could have impacted on the non-take up of vaccinations. More worrying are the figures showing there are issues in the country with stunting among male children, as well as a correlation in the key indicators of children who are overweight. Others concerns that emerged are treatments were sought for 86% of children with acute respiratory infection, compared to 75% of those with fever and diarrhea.

Sonnia Jabbie, the Director of DHSSD, said the work has been outstanding, adding that the ‘wind of change blew.’ Monica Dea, USAID rep, told the meeting to have a minute’s silence in remembrance of the Ebola scourge, while also saying that Stats SL has the most credible data ever to have conducted in Sierra Leone.

Prof. Osman Sankoh, the Statistician General, commended the work done by Stats SL, adding that the right people were selected to do the work. “I told them to do this for your country. We will not compromise when it comes to credibility. ICF is great. We want the data to be internationally credible. You would not have done it well if you have just completed high school. This is credible data for national development,” he said.

Dr. Amara Jambai, the former CMO, who while he was speaking received a State House call informing him of being appointed a deputy minister of health, told the gathering that ‘you can measure people by having the right yardstick. In our planning process, we budgeted for it. In a space of one hour and thirty minutes inside this room, we got $1m dollars.” Difid rep said that they can use the DHS report to demonstrate improvement.  She congratulated the ‘government of Sierra Leone in getting this credible report.”

ME SEF, AR NOR DAE, AR TRAVEL

By Pastor Prince Coker

The Sierra Leonean people have a knack, don’t we, for poking fun at ourselves. The way we do it and its extent beggars belief. ‘Ar nor dae, oh, ar travel,’ is so ridiculously true of what our society is witnessing now since the inception of this uncanny sense of tribal hegemony. It appears that the rulership, however, has only one thing in sight – it seeks to keep its kith and kin tribally buoyant and together. Those who are not of that kinship are juxtaposed between a sense of powerlessness and an experience of untold misery. In this chicanery, telling us the same verbiage that the erstwhile government stole and left an empty kitty, we begin to see ‘money nor dae sef, en sef travel.’ This is as true as putting pots to boil has become a far cry. Poverty is now our bed fellow. In today’s Sierra Leone, there is a realization that ‘all tin nor dae, e travel eats into our resolve to cope in the face of things getting worse. It’s a waiting game for 2023 to see the back of this misery. It’s so frustrating.

Nobody gave a reason why ‘Pekin den nar dis contri dae go hangry at night.’ Nar convoy en siren den go eat? I heard 200 staff at Statistics Sierra Leone have been frog-marched out of their jobs, rendered jobless and in came buoyancy – the tribe. Christ preached it, saying, we must ‘do unto others as we would like others do unto us.’ Kamaraimba has been talking, but he, chickened out, chose to make a speech on WhatsApp. Mr. Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, vacationing in the USA, has pleaded that President Bio ought to stop making silly excuses and provide effective and real leadership in Sierra Leone. He said, “Yesterday, Tuesday, marked exactly nineteen months since coming into office, but the bread and butter business is pathetic. Over Le20 billion every day is generated. Usai this money dae go?” You nor know? Di money nor dae, e travel lek you.

Many people can’t wait for the next presidential elections, can you imagine, that’s how bad things have become, to make up their minds between hyperinflation and a short life span. Sickness, disease, hunger is dragging them to the grave. Hundreds have died and many more are dying. Heart conditions are in the increase, it’s more than ever before. Idle men are turning their muscles to doing crimes and raping babies as young as six months old because their energies are unused, but many more are in it for rituals. Everything, from salt to pepper, and from bread to butter, is scarce. Prices are on the rise, going up sky high, so high that the people of Sierra Leone could barely afford to drink a sachet of water, let alone, for God sake, to have a decent, good day’s meal for dinner. Die-hard party faithfuls are weighing in swinging in and out of confusion about what is responsible for the depth of poverty and stagnation. It takes us back to the days of Pa Shaki when the nation suffered hyperinflation until it was brought to its knees.

All leaders in Africa must learn from Kagame so that they could build their countries on a par with the Rwandas, Egypts, Algerias, and South Africas. Kagame was a retired Major, but he is not addressed as such by any sycophant in Rwanda. As a president, he putsmuch more efforts into building Africa, not titles and names because names don’t build anything at all. Sierra Leone is so broke and poor, yet it has sirens chaperoning big names. When will we be having a head of state boasting of what our abilities are?? We want to build a billion-dollar bridge, but we have no food on the table – is this not, in a sense,suffer posh? Take for example the Rwandans, how strong they have become as a nation in less than 25 years. When will flowers grow in Sierra Leone?

Paul kagame, on Radio Rwanda, said: “Soon, we will have the best universities in the world in our country (NYU, Harvard, London School of Economics, MIT …) We will also have the best hospitals in Rwanda. The intelligence and competence of our children will be equal to or greater than those of the great powers, and our country Rwanda will be a new door of opportunity, knowledge, technology and innovation for all African children and the world who want to learn from us or better still bring us their knowledge.”

In Sierra Leone, party officials would tell you they have a great manifesto that we the people know is of no consequence to our development. Party apologists would go the length to tell us we never had it so good despite a raving mad poverty in the country. Schoolchildren are poor and youths unemployed. Second rate universities with mass failings. Mama and papa got sacked because their tribes don’t belong. Market stalls are empty; businesses are closing down due to the difficulty in paying rents in dollars while the profit margin is under the belt. Our hospitals charge users and collect the payments under the table for common cough mixture for a new born baby.We are paying Le780,000 school fees at school for an SS1 pupil, yet the talk-and-do mantra is that it’s a Free Quality Education where the buildings lack electricity, sanitation, chalks and glass windows. What qualifies the quality in the absence of good, workable and odorless toilets? All tin nor dae, den travel!

Every day things are getting worse. Times so hard. One hundred dollar is exchanged at Le1.30m. I turn around and see traffic police are busy at it every day collecting dues from Keke riders, Poda Poda drivers and Bikers to make ends meet. So uncivil and unprofessional their behavior is as guardians of the state. Do they really know that? One wonders. Den say, di boss nor dae e travel. When the cat is away, the mice will play in the city. We need to bring this country up by its bootstraps. It’s time. Griots. Griots. Praise singers who lack national pride don’t speak the truth and put the devil to shame. Well, nor ask me how, please. Me sef, me nor to baboo, ar nor dae, ar travel. Ar dae look don pan unar.

PUT COUNTRY FIRST

-NGC

In 2018, the National Grand Coalition party (NGC) contested the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections in almost every corner of our country, Sierra Leone. By virtue of votes cast, the NGC stands as the third largest party in Sierra Leone with four seats in Parliament, one District Council Chairman and 19 elected councilors in Kambia, Koinadugu and Falaba districts.

Since the conclusion of the elections the NGC has been pursuing its unique style of constructive opposition. We have been supporting those policies of Government that we consider as being in the best interest of the country and opposing the negative policies and actions that may adversely affect the people of this country. We will continue to do so as this is in line with our guiding principle of putting our “Country First” in whatever we say or do.

We are here to announce to you today a new phase in our work, as an opposition party that is committed to defending the interests of the millions of voiceless people who continue to suffer in poverty. According to the Sierra Leone Constitution political parties are established “to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, and social and economic programmes of a national character…”In keeping with this purpose, the NGC, therefore, intends to engage the press every month on critical issues and problems affecting the daily lives of the common man.

Three out of every five Sierra Leoneans today are living below the poverty line and this is the result of many years of decline, mainly due to mismanagement, corruption and bad governance. What we the political leaders need to understand is that the great call for change that we heard from the people in the 2018 election was not merely for a change of Government but for a change from the hardship they have endured for so long. What we the political leaders need to understand is that the people are losing patience and we can no longer pretend that all is well. Hardship for the common man and woman in Sierra Leone today is not imaginary it is real. It is true that the problems started long before the current regime came to power some nineteen months ago. However things are getting worse and at a rate that is becoming frightening.

There is a déjà-vu school of thought that holds that all that is happening today is not new and that with time things will work out as they have always done in the past. Perhaps they always do until they don’t. Currently there is a wave of civil uprising, violent protests and demonstrations against Governments and political establishments that is spreading from continent to continent: Hong Kong, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Haiti, Egypt, Sudan and Guinea. Is the misery of our people as well as their exposure to external forces at a point where they can be influenced by this global trend through the impact of the internet and social media? It is difficult to tell, but we believe that is better to fix the problem than waiting to find out. 

In this briefing, we are inviting Government and other opposition parties to put politics aside and collectively consider how rapidly things have deteriorated, making life hard and almost unbearable for the common man. We at the NGC consider that at this moment our country is facing a state of economic emergency and that no other priority is more urgent now than reducing the burden of hardship on the common man. To understand the cries of the people, the NGC has been studying the rise in the prices of food related items since 2018 and this is what we found:

ITEMS

PRICES PER BAG/UNIT AS AT 21ST OCTOBER 2019

PRICES AS AT SEPTEMBER 2019

PRICES AS AT AUGUST 2019

PRICES IN MARCH 2018

PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN 19 MONTHS

RICE PER BAG

Le 310,000

Le 300,000

Le 280,000

Le 235,000

32% increase

RICE PER CUP

Le 2,500

Le 2,000

Le 1,700

Le 1,200

108% increase

GARRI PER CUP

Le 1,500

Le 1,500

Le 1,000 

Le 500

200% increase

FISH (HERRING)

Le 8,000 per dozen

Le 7,000 per dozen

Le 6,000 per dozen

Le 1,500 per dozen

433% increase

PALM OIL (PER GALLON)

Le 180,000

Le 170,000

Le 170,000

Le 120,000

50% increase

PALM OIL (PER PINT)

Le 3,500

Le 3,500

Le 3,500

Le 2,500

40% increase

PLASSAS (BIG TIE)

Le 10,000

Le 10,000

Le 5,000

Le 3,000

233% increase

PLASSAS (SMALL TIE)

Le 1,000

Le 1,000

Le 1,000

Le 500

100% increase

YABASS (ONIONS) PER BAG

Le 180,000

Le 275,000

Le 350,000

Le 120,000

50% increase

YABASS (UNIT PRICE)

Le 2,000

Le 2,000

Le 2,500

Le 500

300% increase

BULGUR (PER CUP)

Le 5,000

Le 5,000

Le 4,000

Le 2,500

100% increase

CHICKEN FEET (FOL FOOT) PER CARTON

Le 200,000

Le 180,000

Le 170,000

Le 125,000

60% increase

KANDA (BIG CUT)

Le 18,000

Le 18,000

Le 15,000

Le 7,000

157% increase

MAGGI (UNIT)

Le 500

Le 500

Le 700

Le 250

100% increase

BEEF ( PER POUND)

Le 25,000

Le 25,000

Le 22,000

Le 18,000

39% increase

COOKERY (PLATE)

Le 5,000

Le 5,000

Le 4,000

Le 3,000

67% increase

LAFIDI (PLATE)

Le 4,000

Le 4,000

Le 3,000

Le 2,000

100% increase

USA DOLLAR ((SELLING RATE)

Le 1,020,000 = $ 100

Le 1,005,000 = $ 100

Le 980,000 = $ 100

Le 750,000 = $ 100

36% increase in $ value vs. drop in Leones

USA DOLLAR ((BUYING RATE)

Le 1,035,000 = $ 100

Le 1,015,000 = $ 100

Le 995,000 = $ 100

Le 765,000 = $ 100

35% increase in $ value vs. Leones

NOTE: Prices change from market to market, within a region and across regions and the prices quoted above are merely averages.

You will realize that the most substantial increases are on the prices of very basic foodstuff:  for instance, the price of a bag of rice has risen by 32% but for those who can only afford to buy by the cup the increase is 108%!!! In the case of garri which is usually the last resort for those who cannot afford rice, the increase in price is in fact 200%!! So when the price of herring has increased by 433%, palm oil by 50%, onions (one piece) by 300%, plassas by 233%, kanda by 157%, maggi by 100% , cookery rice by 67% and lafidi by 100% we believe that the time for long explanations and debates on who caused it is over and the focus of the Government  should now be to find some emergency solutions to alleviate the suffering of our men, women and children.

We have estimated that a family intending to cook a basic meal for four persons (with 4 cups of rice, herring, palm oil, leaves, maggi, onions and water using charcoal) would need not less than Le 42,000 per day which works out at about Le 1,260,000 per month; considering that the minimum monthly wage is still Le 500,000, this means that the family can eat for only 12 days. The family will need an extra Le 730,000 to eat rice for the remaining 18/19 days. This is just for food and does not include other necessary expenditure on transport, pure drinking water, rent, clothing, medicals etc. One can only imagine what our young jobless youth are going through at this time.

MINIMUM BUDGET F0R A DAY’S MEAL FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR

(MOTHER, FATHER AND TWO CHILDREN)

ITEMS

QUANTITY

PRICES IN LEONES

POTATO LEAVES

3 tie @ Le 1,000

3,000

OGIRI

4 pieces @ Le 1,000

4,000

PALM OIL

2 pints @ Le 3,500

7,000

PEPPER

1 cup

3,000

ONION/YABASS

1 big size

2,000

MAGGI

4 [email protected] Le 500

2,000

FISH (Herring)

1 doz.

8,000

RICE

4 cups @ Le 2,500

10,000

CHARCOAL

3 Pkts @ Le 1,000

3,000

TOTAL

42,000

It will be of great benefit to all of us if the energy, attention and resources that are currently being wasted on fighting over bye elections in wards and constituencies are directed at finding ways to alleviate the hardship of our people. The Government of Sierra Leone is a legitimate one voted for by the citizens of this country; therefore it has an obligation to listen more to the people than to itself.

The Government of Sierra Leone can of course point to several initiatives it has taken to address corruption, block leakages and deal with the inadequacies in social service delivery including in the education sector. But in spite of all these efforts, the ordinary man continues to sink into greater hardship finding it difficult to survive. We at the NGC believe that the main priority for Government today should be to focus on the economy and how to reduce hardship among the people.

As a first step it is very important that the Government brings together key economic stakeholders to examine the situation holistically, taking into account the variety of concerns and interests and finding ways in which their suggestions can contribute to re-injecting life into the economy and offer at least temporary relief for the people.

It must be recalled that less than three months into the life of this Government there was an excellent initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance in convening importers, exporters, retailers, bankers, insurance companies, SMEs etc. for a round table brainstorming on the economy. But as with many other great initiatives that this Government has brought up, there has been no follow up or continuity. The officer who recorded notes during the meeting has since been sacked and has apparently left with the memory of that meeting.

As a matter of extreme urgency Government should convene these players who make the economy work to find practical solutions to the current economic difficulties our country is facing. However qualified or technocratic our politicians may be they do not have monopoly of knowledge about the intricacies of the economy and how to solve the problems. Government has an opportunity to use the hands-on knowledge and experience of our traders and business operators, importers, bankers, contractors, retailers, insurers etc. to bring about a consensus on the way out of the current situation of hardship in Sierra Leone.

ACC’s Ben Kaifala is President of West Africa Anti-Corruption Institutions

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By ACC Correspondent

The Extraordinary General Assembly convened by the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) of the Network of National Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA) was held in Lome-Togo from November 5th-6th 2019.

The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone, Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. has been unanimously endorsed to serve as the new President and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Network comprising 15 West African Countries.

Commissioner Kaifala – who happens to be the youngest Commissioner on the Continent, will be the President of the regional Association and Chairman of the Executive Committee. He will be the face, voice and principal representative of the Association in ECOWAS and other Global Bodies and would lead in the attainment of the objectives of the Association as mandated by ECOWAS. He would work closely with the Permanent Secretariat of the Network in Dakar, Senegal and preside over all Executive Committee Meetings and General Meetings for the next one year.

The 15 Member Associations was established by ECOWAS Resolution to spearhead efforts of ensuring transparency and accountability in West Africa; it brings together Heads of National Anti-Corruption institutions that have the mandate to fight corruption in respective West African Countries.

BEING A SPORTS PERSONALITY IS NOT BASED ON OPINION BUT FACTS

By Chris Kamara GDMS

I have been going through the treads of different shades of opinions as to what criteria should be used to determine the ‘Sports Personality of Year Award’s award and in this case the Year 2019 Awards. I am astounded to read from many people pointing at actions that borders on collective responsibility and authority which is not a one man’s idea or ingenuity to make sports a success.

Permit my ignorance to ask this simple question? Can you award a sports personality to an individual who has not created an impact in sports as an individual considering the award in question? To me, that’s not the essence of the award and going by the notion in public, it will just ridicule the true meaning of awarding people meritoriously. Being a Sports Personality involves your role as an individual that has impacted on the very sport or sports you find yourself in. What has your contribution done in transforming the sport or athletes whom your singular action warrants you to be awarded a price in appreciation.

Sports Personality is not a wishful thinking or my friend success agenda. It’s a performance driven concept that recognizes the role the individual has played in making sport or athletes feel the transformation of the sports or team into an epitome of envy or success trajectory. That’s the reason why it is called, ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ award.

Now, let me state an argument of fact for believing the reasons why Mr. Babadi Kamara should be given the prize as the ‘Sports Personality of the Year 2019’.

Mr. Babadi Kamara came into active football governance in the year 2018/19 season as a supporter to Bo Rangers Football Club. Before that, he was an active person in sports supporting and financing sports growth from formal and non -formal sector on to the University of Sierra Leone. Babadi was a key factor in the sports sector growth of IPAM SU in 2005 – 2007.

His involvement in football has not only transform Bo Rangers FC, but has been a new kid on the block in transforming the game generally. He has brought change and style in the game and also impacted the lives of the players (athletes) in the game. Consider the place and statue of Bo Rangers before Babadi’s involvement. Despite the would be champions of football with nothing to show in the District and/ or region as a whole, he has reinvented the wheel and made clubs at the Premier Division to scare them in the transfer market and also placed a ceiling which many clubs cannot challenge or compete with. Today, any player or coach can comfortably relocate to Bo City without a second thought. As Chairman of Bo Rangers, his singular action raised his club from nothing to a centre of envy in Sierra Leone. Bo Rangers has become a new home of football for the best players in Sierra Leone football locally. Why deny a man with such accolade an award that best fits his contributions in football in Sierra Leone.

That notwithstanding, Babadi shocked Sierra Leoneans with his innnovation of the Rangers Cup2019. An idea that can only be best compared with the AIYT Cup of Madam Isha Johansen in 2010. That competition alone attracted all those who are considered the high and mighty in Sierra Leone Football including the SLFA with his funds. That competition which is the first of its kind in that region, will take years to come for people to forget it. Again, he was able to make the people of Bo to witness the first trophy ever to be won by a Club from that Region. Babadi is a force to reckon with today in Sierra Leone football which indicate that, your time in football has no place in the successes of the game but impact created.

Babadi is a success story and has results to show. Why deny the man the award he truly deserves. If you believe in the principles of competence then vote for Babadi Kamara, but if your eyes are on mediocrity, then choose otherwise. In Babadi’s successes, I trust. My two cents

Ebola’s 4th Anniversary in Sierra Leone 

The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has filed a defense at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria on the Ebola litigation brought against it on 15 December 2017 by the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law-Sierra Leone (CARL-SL) and two healthcare workers who are Ebola survivors, Ticha Lemp Lemp can authoritatively reveal.

The litigation alleges that the mismanagement and possible loss of funds to the tune of US$14 million meant for the Ebola response in Sierra Leone directly violated the rights of the plaintiffs to life and health under various international covenants, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to each of which Sierra Leone is a party.

The plaintiffs had engaged GoSL for an out-of-court settlement, which they believed would address more issues relating to the welfare of Ebola survivors in general and procurement policies for emergencies like the Ebola epidemi t to health and life; claiming that alleged mismanagement of funds, which has not been proven by plaintiffs, could not have caused unnecessary infections and deaths as the disease was virulent; one that the world was unprepared for. Even if US$14 million went missing, the GoSL believes that it would still be unable to control the outbreak as it lacked the capacity to respond to public health emergencies.

Furthermore, the mismanagement of funds cannot be used to plead violations as people deliberately refused to seek medical attention, it claims.

A major impediment to controlling the Ebola outbreak, GoSL states, was the high degree of population movement driven by poverty—movement across borders, meaning that as long as one country in the sub-region experienced immense transmission, the other countries remained at risk irrespective of how strong its response was.

Moreover, GoSL states that the Ebola epidemic was unforeseen and the healthcare infrastructure which was damaged by the civil war (1991-2002), couldn’t cope. It claims that 1-2 doctors per 100,000 populations was further reduced by death of healthcare workers who died of Ebola.

In spite of all these, GoSL claims it took certain steps in its preparedness, such as trainings for healthcare workers, and concrete steps to control the outbreak.

Meanwhile, GoSL is of the view that the case before the ECOWAS Court will prejudice ongoing investigations by both the Commissions of Inquiry and the Anti-Corruption Commission on the management of Ebola funds.

Speaking to Augustine Sorie Sengbe Marrah Esq, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, on his reaction to GoSL’s defense, he says the government has acted in bad faith.

“The Government had informed us and the ECOWAS Court-orally and in writing-that it wished to settle this matter out of court. So we are now absolutely surprised by their sudden action,” he says.

He continues: “It is unfortunate that during the week commemorating the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone, instead of using the occasion to discuss how to care for survivors and make commitment to address the issues that caused and worsened the outbreak, the GoSL chose to kill settlement talks and file a defense with flawed excuses for the Ebola outbreak.”

It could be recalled that between May 2014 and March 2016, there was an outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded a total of 14,124 confirmed cases and 3,956 deaths. Many of those deaths included healthcare workers who took on the task of containing the outbreak. The outbreak affected other countries in West Africa, including Guinea and Liberia.

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health was tasked with the responsibility to coordinate the country’s response, mobilize and manage resources, and contain the outbreak.

Death By Dirty Cooking

KANDEH K. YUMKELLA

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It would cost an estimated $4.4 billion annually to meet the world’s residential clean-cooking needs – far more than what is currently available. While that figure is not small, it is dwarfed by the costs of inaction.

Freetown, Sierra Leone each year, exposure to household air pollution (HAP) kills 4.3 million people – more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. HAP is produced when households use antiquated fuels – such as firewood, coal, crop waste, and kerosene – for cooking and heating, so ending HAP-related deaths is as straightforward as delivering clean-cooking solutions.

Yet the world hasn’t done it. Across Africa, for example, over 80% of people still rely on biomass as their primary source of energy. In my home country, Sierra Leone – one of the five most vulnerable countries to climate change-, less than 20% of the population has electricity. Over 90% rely on charcoal and firewood for cooking. If current trends hold, Africans will still be using such fuels to cook in 2050.

It would cost an estimated $4.4 billion annually to meet the world’s residential clean-cooking needs – far more than what is currently available. While that figure is not small, it is dwarfed by the costs of inaction. Beyond its devastating effects on human health – HAP is the second-largest risk factor for death and disability in Sub-Saharan Africa – reliance on non-renewable wood fuels for cooking contributes up to one gigaton of CO2 emissions annually, or about 2% of total emissions.

Moreover, such cooking methods are a major source of black carbon, the second-biggest driver of climate change after CO2: solid-fuel cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for some 6% of global black carbon emissions. Compounding the effect on climate, up to 34% of wood fuel in Sub-Saharan Africa is harvested unsustainably, contributing to deforestation.

The persistence of outmoded cooking utensils and heating methods amounts to a major drain on economies. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 3% of GDP is lost annually as a result of increased mortality and morbidity from HAP, avoidable spending on solid fuels, time wasted collecting firewood, and environmental damage. Women and children suffer the most.

Failure to address the problem does not reflect inadequate technology or even insufficient resources, but a lack of political will. While governments and international actors have worked to expand access to electricity, they have often left clean-cooking solutions – using, say, electricity derived from renewable energy – on the back burner. Efforts to promote clean cooking have been largely uncoordinated, narrow, and piecemeal, with limited consumer buy-in.ps subscription image no tote bag no discount

A new initiative aims to change this. The World Bank’s Clean Cooking Fund, launched at September’s United Nations climate action summit in New York, will mobilize $500 million to help ensure universal access to clean cooking by 2030. This includes scaling up the production of clean-cooking fuels, developing well-functioning supply chains to deliver them to billions of people, and encouraging innovation and diffusion of relevant technologies.

To this end, the CCF will leverage World Bank and other development-bank resources to attract private investment, including by creating new revenue streams and incentives across value chains. It will also develop an impact bond market for the clean-cooking sector.

Moreover, the CCF will support a global platform for knowledge and innovation, including the Health and Energy Platform of Action, convened by the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme, and the World Bank in collaboration with the civil-society organizations Hivos and ENERGIA. All of this should help to produce verifiable results at the outcome level (number of households with access to clean cooking) and the impact level (benefiting health, gender equality, and the environment).

But, as promising as the CCF is, achieving its goals will require coherent policy strategies, underpinned by a strong and sustained commitment at the national, regional, and global levels. India is one country that has shown such a commitment.

According to the World Bank’s Energy Progress Report 2019 – which tracks progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 7 (to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all) – the country has raised its electrification rate considerably, from 50% in 1994 to 93% in 2017. Its clean-cooking access rate remains much lower – 45% in 2017 – but still represents significant progress, having more than doubled since 2000. And the share of the population using biomass for cooking fell from 64% in 2010 to 59% in 2015.

This shift has been driven partly by expanded access to liquefied petroleum gas. In 2016, India became the world’s third-largest LPG importer, behind China and Japan. That year, the government also launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana program, with the goal of providing LPG access to 50 million households living in poverty by 2019. Last year, it surpassed that target, and expanded the scheme to cover 80 million families. Other countries, such as Cambodia and Indonesia, have also made significant progress in expanding access to LPG and other clean-cooking fuels.

The imperative now is to continue building on these gains, while adapting the strategies that powered them to different contexts, especially in Africa. To this end, the UN should lead the way in advancing a multi-stakeholder approach driven by strong public-private partnerships. Such an approach has worked before, mobilizing billions of dollars in investment in renewables and energy efficiency. It can work again – and save millions of lives in the process.

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Orange Mobile Partners With SLRSA

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 By Feima Sesay.

 Orange SL has on Wednesday, November 6 2019 signed a partnership agreement with the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority to use it as a platform for the payment of fines for traffic offences in the country.

The orange money platform will provide ease for drivers who are on default with the SLRSA to pay their fines apart from the normal banking process that was available. Customers of the SLRSA will also used the platform to check how much they are indebted to SLRSA in terms of ticket. 

David Mansaray, CEO for Orange Money, during the launch at John James Hall, Up Gun in Freetown lauded the vision and the leadership of the current management of SLRSA for using the latest technology to improve its various services to customers and clients. He cited the various services Orange SL is providing for various institutions, such as EDSA and Guma Valley Water Company, adding that the institutions have been able to increase in terms of revenue mobilization and also lower their costs.

The CEO applauded the partnership between orange SL ad SLRSA and recounted that it will increase the transparence and accountability process in terms of management of finances of SLRSA while opening up the space for fairness and ease in doing Business.

The Executive Director SLRSA, David Panda Noah stated that the partnership between Orange SL and SLRSA was designed out of the need to increasingly use the available technology to ease the payment for various services to use SLRSA.  He said his MIS Team and Orange Money SL Team have been able to work together to develop a system wherein people within the sector, such as the motorists, keke drivers and Okada riders would now have the opportunity to pay their fines even after banking hours.  Mr. Noah further disclosed that it has been a challenge for customers to pay their fines, especially those in the far away areas from their office at Kissy Road and other outlets and that, as a result, the Authority, according to him, has been losing millions of leones on an annual basis.

He noted that the new partnership with Orange is expected to cover more of their other services that would lead to a greater generation of revenue. Mr. A.B Fofanah, a representative of the Board of Directors SLRSA, in his contribution, stated that the role of vehicle owners is very critical to the new partnership between Orange SL and SLRSA.

He, therefore, appealed to SLRSA to seriously consider the issue of flying tickets and also urged the drivers not to disobey the police or Road Safety corps’ stop signals. The Drivers Union President, Alpha Amadu Bah, and the National Traffic Coordinator, Supt Mbalu Gbla made meaningful contributions. They threw their support behind the SLRSA for the new move to digitize the services of the organization. The Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Sadiq Sillah, officially launched the platform, while Glen Cole, Head of IT SLRSA and Abibatu Baxer of Orange SL made presentations on how the platform works.

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