The dramatic socio-economic and political turnaround brought about in Sierra Leone by President Ernest Koroma ‘s Agenda For Change has started reaping rich dividends. The 2010 Human Development Index Report launched at the United Nations today saw Sierra Leone impressively moving up the ladder from 167 to 158 in another undeniable indication that the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government has succeeded in improving the quality of life of Sierra Leone, even though many challenges remain for the nation, which is still recovering from one of the bloodiest and most destructive wars in human history .
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
Since the annual report was first launched in 1990, Sierra Leone had been at the very bottom of the index for most time year by year , adjudged indeed as the poorest nation on the face of the earth or the least developed nation in the world. This was a stigma too bitter to bear , though it was not all that surprising , because during the 11 year devastating war, all the country’s infrastructure were destroyed and the means of life of the people demolished. The setback was also the result of bad governance and neglect of development initiatives, corruption and indolence by governments that had ruled the nation since Independence. Year in , year out Sierra Leoneans had to endure the pain and humiliation of the HDI rating their country as the most backward in the world.
However , in 2005, one man stood up and vowed that if he was voted President in the 2007 General Elections , he would change the situation. A then young insurance executive , Ernest Bai Koroma promised the Sierra Leonean people that he will provide committed and progressive leadership and will initiate development programs that will move Sierra Leone from the bottom of the UN Human Development Index.
As God would have it, Mr. Koroma won the 2007 Presidential elections and his party captured most of the seats in the Legislative polls held simultaneously. Hardly had he mounted the presidential stage when Sierra Leone’s new, dynamic and politically brilliant leader set the machinery in motion to effect change in the lives of the suffering people. He launched the AGENDA FOR CHANGE, an ambitious socio-economic and political development program ,which was Sierra Leone’s Second Poverty Reduction Strategy .In the preface of Agenda’s booklet, President Koroma explained : Since my government took office in 2007, we have strived to chart a bold new path for accelerating the advancement of our country on all fronts. Our vision and strategies are articulated in my ‘Agenda For Change’ …The Agenda For Change reflects our people’s belief that the government they elected in a free and fair election will work in partnership with them to improve their social and economic conditions. “
The clever politician , who is also good in the areas of economics and business as a well-trained and experience insurance executive , President Koroma based his Agenda For Change on four key priorities –The provision of reliable power supply , raising quantity and value-added productivity in agriculture and fisheries; improving the national transportation network to enable the movement of people and goods and fourth ensuring sustainable human development through the provision of improved social services.
In just three years, the President’s Agenda For Change has brought a fascinating turn around in the socio-economic and political fortunes of Sierra Leone. With electricity being provided in 90 days, followed by the completion of the Bumbuna Hydroelectricity dam, the President embarked on road development projects, accelerating food production through the provision of tractors and advance farming implements as well as making agriculture profitable .Not only that, the government went all out to improve health care delivery services in the country by improving the salaries and conditions of service of doctors, nurses and health care personnel , building new clinics and upgrading hospitals and other health facilities. Essential drugs were also made available and this year, the President launched his free health insurance scheme for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 5. The government has also revived mining activities throughout the country. The result of all this transformation is that Sierra Leone is no longer among the 10 least developed nations in the world. At 158, there is still much room for development but a UN official told me today that President Koroma has provided the enabling environment for Sierra Leone to move even further up the human development index.
The Human Development Index was devised by the UN to “assess comparative levels of development in countries. Its three main matrices are literacy, life expectancy, and purchasing power parity (PPP)-adjusted income.” It is also a ”measure of human development using three equally weighted dimensions of human development – life expectancy at birth, adult literacy and mean years of schooling and income (purchasing power per capita in dollars).” Countries behind Sierra Leone in the order of the positions are the Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe.
This is an achievement that should make every patriot in whose veins run the true Sierra Leonean blood very happy and proud . This achievement , coming at the heels of other commendable showings in the Mo Ibrahim Index on Governance , the Transparency International Corruption Index and the index on Doing Business , effectively reinforces what the International Community and stakeholders have been saying all along during UN meetings and conferences that President Ernest Koroma is performing above expectation.
Nobody is saying that all is now very rosy in Sierra Leone and that we should rest on our oars . This is far from what is being said here . Challenges still remain in areas like youth employment and keeping prices of basic commodities stable but the HDI Report also reinforces what all reasonable Sierra Leoneans believe that the Government has taken a gigantic step to address these challenges and should be given chance to continue its socio-economic and political reforms . At least, the government has demonstrated that it is very committed and has the capacity to steer Sierra Leone back to her old glory. This has nothing to do with partisan politics but the interest of the nation. If President Koroma is given the chance, Sierra Leoneans will reap the rich dividends of his socio-economic and political developments.
HERE IS THE FULL STATISTICS OF THE REPORT RELEASED TODAY :
HDI Value Life expectancy Mean years of schooling Expected years of schooling GNI GNI Capital rank NI Value
1 Norway 0.938 81.0 12.6 17.3 58,810 2 0.954
2 Australia 0.937 81.9 12.0 20.5 38,692 11 0.989
3 New Zealand 0.907 80.6 12.5 19.7 25,438 30 0.979
4 United States 0.902 79.6 12.4 15.7 47,094 5 0.917
5 Ireland 0.895 80.3 11.6 17.9 33,078 20 0.936
6 Liechtenstein 0.891 79.6 c 10.3 d 14.8 81,011 e,f –5 0.861
7 Netherlands 0.890 80.3 11.2 16.7 40,658 4 0.911
8 Canada 0.888 81.0 11.5 16.0 38,668 6 0.913
9 Sweden 0.885 81.3 11.6 15.6 36,936 8 0.911
10 Germany 0.885 80.2 12.2 15.6 35,308 9 0.915
11 Japan 0.884 83.2 11.5 15.1 34,692 11 0.915
12 Korea, Republic of g 0.877 79.8 11.6 16.8 29,518 16 0.918
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