February 19, 2021
By AlhajiHaruna Sani
European Union (EU) in collaboration with the German Cooperation International (GIZ) and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development has on Tuesday, February 16th, launched the fourth phase of the Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.
GIZ Programme Coordinator, Dr. Ralf Zimmermann, said the EPP is fundamental towards promoting economic growth and sustainable development and aims at improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans through improving human capital development and providing access to viable financing and creating decent jobs.
He added that Sierra Leone remains one of the least developed countries in the world ranking 182 out of 189 on the Human Development Index (2020)
He said Sierra Leone’s high rate of under employment represents constraints on the socioeconomic development and poses a risk to the political and social stability of the country.
He said youths and women in the rural areas of Sierra Leone are particularly affected and that 60%-70% of the working population are classified as the working poor, meaning that despite their employment, the household falls below the poverty line.
Document presented to pressmen during the program states that Sierra Leone economy is generally weak and not very dynamic, coupled with low level of education and a mismatch between supply and demand in the labour market.
The lack of basic education and skills, as well as practical and technical and higher education and training has a negative impact on productivity, self- employment and productivity which leads to lack of potential to create new jobs. It is against this background that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co—financed by the European, is supporting the fourth phase of Employment Promotion programme (EPP1V).
The programme is implemented the Deutsche Gesellschaft FurInternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development as it main partner at national level.
The fourth phase of EPP is aiming to sustainably improve the employment and income situation of youth in agriculture and in micro-small-and medium-sized enterprises.
The EPP field of action include skills development, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and dual studies, agricultural value chain development, private sector –business loop (B-Loop) and private sector- facility for growth. And the expected outcomes are training of 500 young people in basic employments related skills, construction or renovation and equipment of 5 vocational schools, training of 250 vocational schools teachers’ 50% of whom are women in didactical and technical training etc.
Speaking at the Program,EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone Tom Vens emphasized the need to augment human capital development hence the EU is funding education in the country.
He added that if education does not lead to employment then the country has missed the point and that if government does not focus on creating jobs then “we are missing the point.”
Tom Vens added that 65% of productivity is lost to poor education, nutrition and health, placing it below the regional average.
He maintained that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should not be done in isolation with development that promotes education or else development will be undermined.
The German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Horst Gruner, expressed delight to launch the fourth phase of the EPP, which supports the government in its effort to reduce unemployment especially in rural areas like Falaba,Kionadugu, Kono and Kailanhun in the North and the East of the country.
“Since 2009 when the first phase started to 2024 when the fourth phase would be ending, the German Government would have spent some LE756 billion. Statistics of the EPP shows that ninety-eight thousand people mostly young adult or youths have benefitted from the programme with 35% being women,” he said.
He said forty two thousand farmers have received training for material input and 14,000 youths received life skills training, 2,300 small scale enterprises have received financial or material support, 10,000 youths received business training, and nearly 2,000 permanent or seasonal jobs have been created.
Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Francis M.Kaikai, expressed delight and appreciation to both the EU, the German Cooperation and his colleague minister present at the occasion.
He added that since 1962 to date, the German government have been doing so much for Sierra Leone.
He further canvassed the German government to do more for the country, admonishing the GIZ to be very sensitive when it comes to gender issues in the implementation of their work.