Miatta Conference Hall, Freetown
30th January-1st February 2012
Charting 50 Years Forward
The Sierra Leone Conference on Development and Transformation is the culmination of five (5) months of extensive consultations through out the country consisting of various groups and organizations through focused group discussions, specialist papers presented at technical working groups, District Town hall meetings at district level, radio and television discussions and interviews with key stakeholders.
On the 31st of January 2012, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma formally opened the Conference as practical demonstration of his commitment to taking up the challenge of the pronouncement of this Conference which he made on the eve of the Jubilee celebration of our independence.
After two days of intensive discussions and interactions among participants, the Conference declared as follows:
We the people of Sierra Leone:
Desirous of charting the development of our country at this critical time in our history;
Convinced that the considerable endowments of our country in the talents of its people, the youthful vigor of its young, the richness of its culture and the vastness of its natural resources destine Sierra Leone for a prosperous future;
Recognizing some of the failures of past generations to exploit these endowments in a judicious and caring manner for the benefit of the vast majority of our people has been the main source of our underdevelopment as a nation;
Realizing that no country can develop without a strong sense of patriotism amongst its citizens;
Determined to lift our people out of poverty, create wealth and transform our country into middle-income status within the next 25 years;
Resolute to avoid the mistakes of the past as we now march forward on the road to consolidating peace, unity and prosperity;
Having consulted extensively with Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life in the 12 districts and the Western Area as to what they want Sierra Leone to look like in the next 25 to 50 years and how best to achieve this goal without making the mistakes of the past.
Now declare the following Principles and Framework for the Transformation of Sierra Leone in to a Middle Income Country and an Advanced Economy within the Next 50 years
Principles of Accountability, Equity, and Inclusion
The business of transformation shall be conducted in a transparent manner, and subject to best practices of accountability, integrity, equity and efficiency;
Every Sierra Leonean must take pride in the country and develop a strong sense of nationalism as we move forward on our journey to prosperity:
The conduct of the business of Government shall be inclusive, taking into account the need for equity across gender, region, disability and age in the distribution of national positions and resources;
Taxation is paramount and should be bench marked against best practices in resource rich countries and such other countries that are successfully transforming themselves into middle income and advanced economies;
Paying taxes is an obligation on all citizens and companies operating in Sierra Leone and, all taxes must be paid to enable the government to fulfill its commitments
The rule of law is fundamental to the transformation, and robust mechanisms for ensuring adherence to laws and regulations by all, regardless of station in life, must be established;
Special attention must be paid to ensuring justice for the common man and woman in the courts of the land. This includes the establishment of comprehensive legal aid system, intensive legal education programs for all sectors of the population, curbing corruption within the judiciary and effective supervision and training exercises for officials dispensing justice in the local courts, as well as civil society monitoring of the judiciary.
Investment in education, infrastructure, including affordable housing, and health systems should be given topmost attention and equitably spread in all districts and regions of the country.
Framework for Exploitation and Management of Natural Resources
No new mining agreement should be signed by the Government of Sierra Leone without a comprehensive analysis by the government of the proposed quantities and extent of the resources to be extracted;
There must be established for the purposes of negotiating agreements a unit staffed by professionals in aspect of negotiations, complemented by relevant experts and officials in relevant state institutions, and outside support where necessary;
Relocation of local population should be avoided as much as possible, and where this is unavoidable, housing and other facilities must be better than in the original settlement and adequate compensation should be paid to affected populations;
There should be adopted a culture of sustainable and judicious exploitation and investment of proceeds from the natural resources, ensuring the protection and preservation against environmental degradation, access to potable water, and the protection of our marine stock and local ecologies;
To reduce conflicts over ownership of land and to ensure maximum, judicious and sustainable utilization of land, a national debate on land use should be launched to address a comprehensive land use and land tenure policy.
There should be developed a robust security system to counteract threats to the state and its people
Framework for allocation of State Resources
There should be established a Special Transformation Fund from 80% of proceeds from the extraction of natural resources;
The Special Transformation Fund should be allocated to education, entrepreneurship development, employment and resilience in the globalized world; infrastructural development, energy, agriculture and a comprehensive health system. Allocations of The Special Transformation Fund shall not be utilized for purposes other than those specified except with the expressed consent of parliament;
The country must undertake a comprehensive reform of the educational system including, a review of curricula to make education relevant and responsive to 21st century needs and rapid growth, while promoting programs for childhood education, adult and functional literacy, community mobilization as well as technical and vocational education and training; and enforcing quality and standards in the educational system;
There should be established, as part of The Special Transformation Fund, funding mechanisms to ensure the full and equal participation of women, youths and the physically challenged in the socio-economic and political life of the nation;
Tourism must be developed as a priority mega program as well as an important source of revenue, national pride and livelihood;
There should be established an effective and efficient economic management system to enhance macro-economic stability and job creation for inclusive growth and sustainable development. The Conference recommends inter alia, revenue and monetary independence, a transition from 3 – 5 year PRSP to 7-year development plans and a holistic approach to employment policy and programs incorporating private sector and responsive to gender, youth employment and the physically and mentally challenged;
To enable women and men to have equitable and easier access to financial resources in urban and rural areas, proposals to monetize personal assets in those environments should be formulated within eighteen months;
In order to transform private sector into a veritable engine of growth the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture must be re-organized to play a more catalytic and leadership role, and incentives should be introduced to prioritize innovation and entrepreneurship, promote small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) as well as attract indigenous investors and returning Diaspora entrepreneurs;
A comprehensive transportation program to include road, rail, river and ports as a mechanism for accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty should be completed within 18 months; and
Training in entrepreneurship, modern business development methods, networking and access to information technology should be intensified to increase the participation of women and other disadvantaged groups by 50% within five years.
Framework for implementation
An implementation schedule for the transformation should be developed. The schedule should contain benchmarks for monitoring the progress of implementation;
An annual national stock taking conference on the progress and implementation of the transformation should be organized;
Implementation of the transformation should be spearheaded by a citizens’ committee and a secretariat;
The citizens’ committee shall be headed by the President of the Republic and comprise representatives from political parties, women’s group, civil society, religious groups, chiefs, youths, the physically challenged, and local councils. The secretariat shall be staffed by experts and reporting to the Steering Committee, and support the Annual Stocktaking Conference on the Progress of the Transformation;
A comprehensive Diaspora strategy and program of action to situate the Sierra Leone Diaspora at the heart of the transformation must be designed and acted upon.
The final report of the Conference, due to be completed in two weeks, shall constitute the framework for further action.
This declaration shall be laid before parliament.