By KABS KANU
The economic benefits of the new Mammamah International Airport will be immense.
I do not think that President Ernest Koroma wants to burden us with debt. Detractors of the President who do not want him to leave any successful and enduring legacy that will make him the household word in Sierra Leone forever because of the benefits it will bring the nation are the ones busy trumping up unnecessary scepticism and negativity about the project. What President Koroma wants to do is to unlock the economic potentials of our country and he believes that the Mamammah Airport has the key. That is why he has made Mammamah one of his flagship programs.
1. The Mamammah Airport will make traveling to Sierra Leone more consummate and safe and this will attract tourism . If we boost tourism in Sierra Leone, you are looking at an industry that will spin millions of dollars a year and provide abundant employment opportunities. Tourism thrives on safe travel opportunities and MAMMAMAH provides the opportunity for the revitalization of tourism in Sierra Leone.
2. The Airport will open new opportunities for business and commerce and will help to expand and revitalize the private sector
3. The Airport will stimulate the setting up of private sector-airport related businesses like hotels , restaurants,public warehousing, travel agencies, taxi and limo services and this will open abundant employment and business opportunities for Sierra Leoneans, if only we will decide to ditch our colonial mentality and obsession with the “Mr. Cole” or “Mr. Johnson” necktie -over -smart- business suit office jobs.
4. Sierra Leoneans who are enterprising and business -savvy will be challenged to set up service sector businesses like duty free shops, restaurants, travel agencies, warehouses, shipping and freight services , car rentals, computer data processing etc. How I wish we had the mindset of the Nigerians . This is the kind of project for which Nigerians will put on their dancing shoes because their business acumen will help them reap benefits from it. The average Sierra Leonean is lazy and he is not inventive . What others will see as a blessing is therefore something for Sierra Leoneans to cry down because the wise men of the West, whom they believe know everything, say that it is not good for us.
It is a shame that even though the President of China, H.E. xi Jingping , in his meeting with President Koroma , never mentioned that his country’s help to construct the airport will be at the expense of a $ 315 million debt, some mischievous Sierra Leoneans opposed to this government are still using the old estimates to malign President Koroma that he wants to overburden the country with a heavy debt for the project. But they must also realize that it takes massive economic investments to bring even more massive economic dividends.
In an eye-opening paper entitled “AIRPORT AREA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MODEL” , the writers Glen Weisburd, John Reed and Roanne M. Neuwirth postulate that ” As business markets become national and international in scale, airports are increasingly being viewed as catalysts for local economic development. Their ability to generate jobs and attract new business is being used in many locations as a justification for public investments in new airport construction and expansion. ”
Additional empirical studies of U.S airports by the authors have shown that employment growth within 6 kilometers of airports can be two to five times faster than the suburban ring of the metropolitan area in which they are located.
Though we trust and respect the IMF and World Bank, it is also a fact that some of their economic advice and solutions in the past have not always been the best for countries, especially those in the Third World . Though I do not agree with everything he writes, Mr. Mohamed Allie Jalloh , commonly known as MOHM ALLIE , who is an economist, has a paper out that he circulates often that highlights how the Bretton Woods institutions often miss the mark in their economic advice to struggling African nations . I do not want to dwell on the paper because this article is not about the IMF and the World Bank anyway.
Also, everything in this write-up is my own private opinion. It is not the opinion of the Government for which I work. It is my personal opinion as a journalist .
The Mamammah International Airport project is not a vainglorious enterprise by President Ernest Koroma. It is rather the economic game-changer that every Sierra Leonean will benefit from if we look at the benefits.
MORE COMING .