A Very Difficult Post-COVID19 Period Lies Ahead

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    Covid-19

    By Amin Kef Sesay

    Failure of national governance has over the decades been the leading risk to peace, stability and economic growth in Sierra Leone and many other African countries; highlighting the continent-wide push for greater accountability and democracy.

    In April 2018, President Bio was elected head of state with a commitment to promote economic growth and fight corruption, while strengthening national security and the economy.

    The political change offered an opportunity to address citizens’ concerns and priorities. Two years on, Government has the objective of securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development; assess the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, and address new and emerging challenges.

    As the country battles with COVID-19, which obviously like Ebola is diverting much needed resources for governance and development to the fight, this is time for the government to evaluate progress, and identify what has worked and what has not and how to address new challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

    Challenges include the adverse impact of climate change, increasing water scarcity, biodiversity and ecosystem loss, low resilience to natural disasters, potential non achievement of the SDGs, energy crisis, food crisis, limited benefits from globalization, health security, the global financial crisis, low penetration of ICT services, urbanization, need to develop better disaster response mechanisms, genetically modified crops in relation to food security and technology transfer among others.

    Persistent loss of biodiversity is also a major problem that the government has to think of ways to address. Expanding agriculture, clearing of forests for charcoal and firewood, climate change are the primary causes of loss of biodiversity.

    Addressing biodiversity loss requires long-term solutions in the form of development and implementation of appropriate policy guidelines, institutional capacity-building and deployment of adequate resources.

    Measures need to be taken to improve water management and storage capacity to ensure continued supply of water for domestic and economic purposes and for ecosystem balance. Persistently high food prices remain a problem.

    Unemployment and underemployment compound the socioeconomic development problem. Most of the work available is unskilled or low-skilled.

    It requires new regional and global partnerships and entrepreneurial and agile leadership to create pathways for shared prosperity and drive a sustainable future.

    Physical infrastructure is a challenge to productivity, a lack of funding for roads, telecommunications, water, electricity and more are impeding productivity. This “failure of critical infrastructure” is a major risk to business.

    There is the fiscal crisis, with the country at risk of slipping into a major debt crisis. As debt levels increase, so does the pressure of servicing the debt; money that could be invested in society goes to repaying loans. This could make it less likely to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

     

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