What is the government’s plan to make the economy more productive? Detailed plan. Investments in ancillary and supportive areas of infrastructure, and particular industries and types of enterprises. I have seem some jottings with regards to agriculture, fishing, and tourism, but I haven’t seen much with regards to an articulation of manufacturing industries. The latter must be neglected, because we do have cities and the populations there need to be and can be gainfully employed in labour and capital intensive ways producing especially consumer goods, but also certain categories of capital goods.
There will not be any net urban to rural migration, even though the rate of rural to urban migration can probably decrease, and increases in agricultural productivity need to come with use of less labour. That is improvement in the application of labour intensive techniques to result in more yield per worker, use of even draft animals, and even increased use of machinery that will decrease the amount of labour. The people who are wont to say and insist that rural migrants should just all return to the fields are deceiving themselves of the reality that most of them will not do so.
The recent collapse of the iron ore mining industry had proven once again, unsurprisingly and predictably, that iron ore mining and mining in general is not a panacea to economic development in Sierra Leone. But the prevailing narrative that has generally swayed from a lot and even extreme bullishness in some circles to morosity and extreme pessimism isn’t the right one. Honestly speaking the fall in iron ore prices and the Ebola outbreak of 2014, and the failure of ore prices to reach their pre 2014 highs are not good enough reason for the complete stoppage of operations. African Minerals and London Mining were undone more by mismanagement than they were undone by the fall in prices. Certainly, the conditions of 2014 would have caused a slowdown and layoffs, but their complete collapse could have been avoided by better management and also shareholders more committed to toughing out through hard times than bailing out at the slightest sign that their desired profit margins are not met. Generally, these sort of companies have some form of state ownership or state support in hard times. The state of Sierra Leone has demonstrated complete incapability and also disinterest in running and operating such a major industry. The effort to acquire the administrative and technical knowhow to do so has been ENTIRELY lacking and probably still lacks. As far as Shandong Iron and Steel Group are concerned, they are presently focused on obtaining iron ore to operate their steel mills from elsewhere. If there was a company more willing to diversify their sales sources, the mines would still operate. The Bio Administration should strongly try to get the mines running again as quickly as possible, whether directly or not. Jobs, forex, and state revenue from them are greatly needed.
The Bio Administration should comprehensively articulate what their economic development strategy is in terms of investments in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and other sectors, and also the plans to develop the work force and do the necessary managerial and technical research related to general types of industry and specific enterprises. If it doesn’t have one now, it should have develop one and then enact one RIGHT NOW !