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“Sierra Leone Civil War cost $US15 billion”

…World Bank Africa Prexy

Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war, which raged from 1991 to 2002, cost a whopping US$15 billion, according to Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.

“By some estimates, the conflict in Sierra Leone carried a price tag of US$15 billion in terms of destruction of property, livelihoods, and precious lives lost,” said the former Economy minister in Senegal, who was speaking yesterday (19 June) at the 7th Consultative Group Meeting in Sierra Leone, held at Bintumani Confernce Centre in Freetown.

The meeting, which was co-hosted by the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank, seeks to confirm existing donor commitments and mobilize additional resources, including private sector funding and public-private partnerships, to close the funding gap for the ‘Agenda for Prosperity.

“The initial estimates for implementing all projects and programmes within the Agenda for Prosperity is $5.7 billion but committed resources from Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), Development Partners and Private Sector are estimated at $3.7 billion, creating a funding gap of $2.0 billion,” a media advisory from the Bank said this week.

While sharing the high table with President Koroma, with whom he is slated to have a closed door meeting before he departs, Mr. Diop emphasized that the cost of recovery, leading on to stability would be even costlier for the country.

To achieve such, he said “One key priority is to re-balance the mix of current and capital expenditures – and shifting to a larger share of capital expenditures to help bridge the infrastructure gap in Sierra Leone and boost health and education services.”

He also stressed the need for transparency and accountability in government, to enable government optimize investment in infrastructure development and inclusive growth.

“Efficient and accountable management of public investment processes will allow your Government to increase overall investment in infrastructure and – equally important – ensure that such investments contribute to inclusive growth. Through project evaluations, financial management information systems, and public expenditure reviews, we stand ready to help you maximize the quality and effectiveness of government spending, Mr. Diop said.

He pledged the World Bank’s support to Sierra Leone’s private investment attraction, as such would allow government to enhance its capacity in overall investment in critical infrastructure, including electricity, which still has “less that 10% penetration” in the entire country, “as will hopes of generating employment for the estimated 120,000 young people entering the labor market each year”.

He added: “The emergence from conflict to stability is significant – it marks an important milestone on the transition to growth and prosperity. It is my hope that all parties gathered here today will stand up to the challenge and give Sierra Leone the necessary boost, and commitment of resources, to begin this march towards shared growth, poverty reduction, and continued peace.”

He expressed immense confidence though in the ability of Sierra Leone, “to harness the full potential of its human capital….as the country has what it takes – a small population, fertile soils with adequate rainfall and abundant natural resources – to attain sustainable economic growth and development. “You are building the foundation for a prosperous future,” he assured President Ernest Bai Koroma.