By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a bid to bolster Sierra Leone’s economic stability and enhance governance in its mining sector, the World Bank, on Thursday December 14, 2023, has awarded a $65 million grant under the Third Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Development Policy Financing (DPF). This significant financial support aims to tackle pivotal developmental hurdles by backing reforms spanning macroeconomic stability, mining sector governance, land management practices, gender equality, and public sector accountability.
The approval of this DPF, marking the final phase of a trilogy of operations, signifies a strategic leap towards fostering sustainable, robust and inclusive growth within the country. Abdu Muwonge, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone, emphasized, “Sierra Leone’s progress in eradicating extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity hinges on sustained macroeconomic stability, robust growth and a conducive environment to harness its rich natural resources.”
Muwonge further highlighted the financing’s role in rectifying governance gaps in the mining and land sectors, facilitating broader access to financial services, employment opportunities and education, while also mitigating fiscal and debt vulnerabilities.
The nation’s journey towards sustainable and inclusive growth has been hampered by a series of multifaceted external shocks – economic, epidemic and climatic – compounded by systemic governance deficiencies and fiscal constraints. These challenges have hindered efforts to drive pro-poor growth through public investments. Sierra Leone’s economy bore the brunt of consecutive crises, exacerbating inflationary pressures and fiscal strains and augmenting risks to debt sustainability. The reforms supported by this injection of funds seek to confront these challenges head-on while meeting the escalating financial demands of the Government.
Smriti Seth, World Bank Senior Economist and Task Team Leader stressed the importance of ongoing structural reforms, particularly in input markets like land, labor, and natural resource management. These reforms, aligned with sustainability and resilience objectives, underscore the World Bank’s commitment to assisting the Government in implementing crucial structural changes to foster inclusive growth.
The DPF’s focus encompasses rectifying deficiencies in land management, bolstering governance in the mining sector and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and fortifying climate adaptation and resilience measures. These reforms align with the World Bank’s crisis response framework, geared toward nurturing green, resilient, and inclusive development, as well as the Global Crisis Response Framework.
This initiative builds upon the groundwork laid by the previous two operations in the series, which laid the groundwork for substantial legislative reforms. These earlier efforts promoted decentralized and inclusive land management, reinforced governance and licensing frameworks in the mining sector, and advocated for gender inclusivity in education and employment.
The World Bank’s financial backing represents a pivotal step in Sierra Leone’s journey towards economic stability, governance enhancement, and sustainable growth. As these reforms take shape, they aim to pave the way for a more resilient and inclusive economy, steering Sierra Leone toward a more prosperous future.