The World Bank Group Executive Director, Denny H. Kalyalya on Friday 4th July paid a courtesy call on President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma to have firsthand impression on projects that are approved and funded in Sierra Leone by the World Bank.
President Koroma in his opening statement appreciated the support that has been given by the Bank in terms of ongoing and completed projects which he believes the country now has a clear roadmap for driving development and that the Agenda for Prosperity in this first year of its implementation will lay the basis that will take the country to a middle income status.
The President said that government has prioritized those sectors that will trigger the country's transformation, especially the energy sector, adding that "we must ensure that we have a proper management of the emerging opportunities." "We have to be more efficient and also ensure that we increase the access to energy not only in the domestic circle but also to those engaged in commercial activities, especially at a time when we are at the initial stage of unbundling the National Power Authority (NPA) to make it more efficient," he explained.
In terms of power generation, President Koroma stated that government is now preparing for feasibility studies in terms of hydro potentials and thermal plants, and furthered that government is looking at having a national grid that will link up the whole country and also enhance the distribution within the cities and the district headquarter towns.
According to President Koroma, to have a sustained power generation and distribution network, "we must endeavour to have it right in our energy sector that will reflect our national engagements on having value addition on our agricultural and mineral products. "We are going to spend a little more time on the energy sector and I believe that is going to be the bedrock of our transformation," he said.
He further stated that a lot of gains have been made in the country's transformational process, particularly in infrastructure and agriculture.
On the question of youth unemployment and empowerment, the President mentioned the efforts government is making to engage the youth through the construction of a National Youth Village to train and empower them with skills for the emerging job market in the country. Without the requisite skills, President Koroma said, the youth cannot contribute meaningfully to the ongoing development and transformation of the country.
Briefing the President on his visit, the World Bank Group Executive Director, Mr. Denny H. Kalyalya said that his visit was to have firsthand information on the ground about the projects funded to have a clear view of the challenges and issues that are connected therewith.
The World Bank representative commended the government for the work done so far, and added that these are projects the World Bank would like to be associated with. "As you are doing, it is one of the interests the Bank will be working with you to ensure that the interventions are undertaken in a sustainable way, and that is why we applaud you in these areas."
Even though the World Bank representative acknowledged the challenges facing the country, he however expressed profound satisfaction over the stability of the macro-economic situation, which he described as very laudable. "The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended the government and I am also joining them in doing so," he emphasized.