By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Sierra Leone –The United States of America has continued to be a major economic foundation for Sierra Leone’s economic growth by providing support to national processes for the wellbeing of the citizenry and people in Sierra Leone.
While providing millions of US Dollars to support the fight against Ebola, combating and containing the virus at its source as well as a coordinating global response and relief effort in making a major impact in getting to zero new infections, the U.S. and Sierra Leone again sign first-ever $44 Million MCC Agreement in Nov. 17, 2015 to support policy reforms, build institutional capacity, and improve governance in the water and electricity sectors.
The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Republic of Sierra Leone today signed a new $44 million partnership agreement at the Sierra Leone State House. MCC Vice President of Policy and Evaluation Beth Tritter joined U.S. Ambassador John Hoover, Chief of Staff to the President of Sierra Leone Mr. Saidu Conton Sesay, and Sierra Leone Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kaifala Marah.
The government of Sierra Leone is now working on post Ebola programmes to instigate governance and system reform, Promote social cohesion, education and community mobilization, Develop Sierra Leone’s private economy, Invest in national infrastructure and Encourage foreign investment.
During his speech at the UN Assembly, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma dealt mainly with economic and national rehabilitation issues, namely the popular Millenium Declaration, its parameters and post-Ebola economic recovery.
The continued support by the U.S to Sierra Leone is regarded by Sierra Leoneans as key to achieving national goals and the Agenda for prosperity.
The $44.4 million grant – known as an MCC Threshold Program – will support policy reforms, build institutional capacity, and improve governance in the water and electricity sectors, with a focus on Freetown. The program aims to create a foundation for the delivery of financially sustainable water and electricity services while limiting opportunities for corruption by establishing independent regulation, strengthening key institutions and increasing transparency and accountability.
“For many years, our governments have worked together to promote peace, security and democracy in Sierra Leone,” Tritter said. “Today, we celebrate another step forward, a new partnership that will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth at a critical moment in Sierra Leone’s history.”
The partnership comes as the country emerges from the devastating Ebola outbreak and complements the U.S. Government’s recovery efforts. It also represents MCC’s latest contribution to Power Africa, following recent investments in Liberia and Benin. MCC’s Threshold Programs assist countries to become eligible for MCC’s larger grants – known as compacts – by supporting targeted policy and institutional reforms.
Sierra Leone’s Threshold Program focuses on three key components: A Regulatory Strengthening Project that will build capacity at the newly formed Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission; a Water Sector Reform Project that aims to improve overall sector governance, performance, and accountability by building capacity at the Freetown water utility; and an Electricity Sector Reform Project that will help the Government of Sierra Leone operationalize a new framework and market structure for the country’s electricity sector. The program was approved by MCC’s Board of Directors at its quarterly meeting in September.