By Amin Kef (Ranger)
This medium was reliably informed that on the 27th February, 2023 the United States Ambassador, David Reimer, welcomed a delegation from the U.S Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to Freetown, led by MCC’s Chief Executive Officer, Alice Albright.
It was further learnt that the MCC delegation is in the country to conduct bilateral meetings to advance the nation’s compact grant program which aims at increasing the availability of affordable and reliable electricity to satisfy demand among households, businesses, and social institutions.
During the three-day visit, the MCC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alice Albright, accompanied by Ambassador Reimer and MCC Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Petrie, met with His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, as well as a range of stakeholders, from across the Government, donor partners, and private sector representatives.
President Bio welcomed the team, on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, adding that he was pleased to hear that significant progress had been made in the assessment of the proposed energy projects and that they remained on track for the MCC approval.
“I would be remiss if I did not reiterate my desire for the compact to explore climate-resilient interventions. MCC may want to consider increasing the purse of the Compact, especially where innovative opportunities are identified.
“Given the depth of the need for energy and the budgetary constraints we currently face, I appreciate it if we can prioritize my Government’s proposal. So, I want to take this opportunity to ensure that you and I, at the strategic level, have some alignment on the priorities for the compact,” he said.
CEO of MCC, Madam Albright, thanked President Bio for meeting with her again, confirming that, “This is my second visit to Sierra Leone. I am so excited to be back here. We are here as a team at a critical juncture in our work with your country at MCC. The threshold we reached a few years ago is nearing its end, and we are very excited about that with many admirable accomplishments.”
The US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, noted that they at the Embassy were absolutely delighted that the CEO of the MCC was in the country for the better part of the week.
“The MCC Compact will become a very positive part of what the United States Embassy will be doing here in Sierra Leone for the next five years, which is why we welcome this discussion.
“More importantly, it is an excellent example that the US Embassy is setting with Sierra Leonean cooperation. It also demonstrates how highly Sierra Leone is held in the US and how much attention the US has paid to Sierra Leone. We want to walk together in partnership with you to build a better society in Sierra Leone,” he assured.
The Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, also on Monday, 27th February 2023, hosted the visiting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Alice Albright and the Minister discussed issues around the economy, debt sustainability, inflations, Government reforms and how the MCC compact will impact economic growth.
Minister Bangura informed his guest that the Ministry of Finance has been following up on the development of the compact with the MCC and how the compact can impact energy as an enabler for the Education and Agriculture value chain to address food insecurity.
He highlighted how energy generation is impacting the economy and Government budget.
Minister Bangura assured the CEO of the Government’s commitments to deepen economic reforms, improve the MCC scorecard and provide the resources for a free and fair election.
Additionally, the delegation paid a visit to water kiosks constructed during the MCC funded threshold program that closed in 2021 and met with community members who benefited from the project. The $44.4 million Threshold program grant improved clean water access and electricity services within Freetown.
“MCC is proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the people of Sierra Leone. Our planned investments, alongside key policy and institutional reforms in the country’s power sector, will facilitate more reliable power for all Sierra Leoneans,” said Albright.
Albright added that the compact will reflect MCC’s continued commitment to promote resilient, long-term benefits to Sierra Leone’s economy.
“MCC has invested more than $9.5 billion with 24 countries in Africa, which are expected to benefit more than 90 million people,” said Albright. “Over the next five years, MCC expects to sign new compact and threshold program agreements globally worth more than $4 billion, making MCC well positioned to fund significant contributions to tackling the climate crises.”
MCC and the Government of Sierra Leone have been working together to design a compact since December 2020, when the Republic of Sierra Leone was selected by MCC’s Board of Directors. Through the Sierra Leone Compact Development Unit (SLCDU), MCC and the Government of Sierra Leone have conducted several joint analyses on the country’s economy to identify the binding constraints to economic growth and potential opportunities for investments. Together, they identified the power sector as the focus for the compact, and the SLCDU and MCC teams are currently finalizing the project designs to address that challenge.