World Bank Africa VP urges CSOs to speak out!
The World Bank Vice President for Africa has called on civil society organizations to speak out and tell truth to power, both at national and international levels.
Speaking to a cross-section of civil society representatives and media practitioners last Friday at the plush Radisson Blu Hotel at Aberdeen, Makhtar Diop urged both groups to constantly ask questions and to raise critical issues for discussion, including issues of transparency and accountability, corruption, climate change, land grabbing, gender and population issues, including female genital mutilation, and freedom of information.
The former Economy minister in Senegal opined that most often than not, many civil society groups are rather too quiet or too timid to raise their voices over critical issues, both locally and internationally.
He also urged state actors to make available data and to operate an open information policy to allow civil society access to useful information and to juxtapose such with user feedbacks.
During the hour long interacting, Mr. Diop, who was on the verge of completing a three day visit to the country, to among other things attend the 7th Consultative Group meeting on Sierra Leone, said the country needs to invest in rural infrastructure, such as roads, and in human capital, adding that the labour market should be sensitive to training and empowering people in technical, professional skills.
While acknowledging that a lot has been achieved since the civil conflict ended in 2002, which is evident in successive elections and a resilience to attain stability, he urged that reducing inequality and maintaining stability in the country was imperative.
Also, he admonished a check on public capital expenditure in the health, education and other services, plus having the right balance in capital expenditure and project evaluation to ensure that scarce resources are properly utilized.
He said a remedy to the epileptic energy situation in the country, with less than 10% penetration in electricity, could be a regional solution, such as obtaining power at low cost from neighbouring countries, which is the blueprint envisaged by the West Africa Power Pull which the Bank is supporting.
He said the private sector can stimulate economic growth and sustainable development, and emphasized the need for transparency in public-private sector interaction, for certainty and predictability, plus the need for increased investment in Africa.
He said Sierra Leone should harness its huge resources in water to leverage sustainable agricultural development.
Meanwhile, the meeting also discussed the stalled progress in getting the fiber optic project to start, with world bank officials reiterating their call for government to liberalize the gate way and to lower the high price on making mobile phone calls, as the country charges the highest tariffs per minute on phone calls in West Africa.