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Between Natural Resource Management and Economic Development of African Countries: Sierra Leone in focus

By Habib M Sesay, PhD


Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It is endowed with abundant human and natural resources. Additionally, the fifty four countries of the continent are gifted with huge deposits of minerals including diamond, gold, iron ore, bauxite, rutile, tin, magnesium, cobalt, copper, uranium, zircon, oil and marine resources as well as agricultural products: groundnuts, piassava, sisal, cocoa, coffee, Mediterranean and tropical fruits. The above are resources that fuel industries in Europe, North America, Japan and China etc. In retrospect, organised exploration and exploitation of Africa’s endowment commenced during the scramble for Africa. 

Indeed, the Berlin Congress orchestrated the balkanization and subsequent imperial rule of the continent to prevent war in Europe at the end of the Nineteenth Century over a massive landmass that did not belong to Europeans. The onslaught was financed by joint stock concession companies. Hence, the administration of the territories in the spheres of influence of imperial powers and the selfish utilisation of resources were simultaneous, inseparable and inextricably interwoven. The process continued unabated during the struggle for national liberation and the post-independence era.  Suffice it to say that today, large scale mining and oil exploration are significant components of the African economy. While industrial mining is carried out by foreign owned multinational corporations, individuals and small groups focus on bunkering, artisanal and small scale mining. 

The Current statistics of Africa indicate that mining and oil sector employ 30% of the labour force, account for 70% of export earnings and 60% of Gross Domestic. Albeit, the natural resource wealth of Africa covey the mistaken notion that the people of the continent are destined for a prosperous and bright future in the post-independence era. The performance of the African economy thus far is dismal, the effect of the ‘paradox of plenty’ syndrome? On the one hand, Africa is constantly clouded in economic hardships and on the other hand, Africans are alienated, bank poor and deprived of basic social services. One may therefore surmise whether Africa has experienced the natural resource curse or whether it is a victim of sinister forces that are insidious, difficult and impossible to contain. This is the present experience of Africans and state of affairs of countries of Africa.

This piece would be written from the above perspective with emphasis on Sierra Leone. The paper has three parts. Part one examines the background of organised mining in Sierra Leone, imperial policy that sanctioned the disproportionate allocation of income generated from the sale of Sierra Leone`s natural resources to return on foreign investments at the expense of national development. The policy thwarted Sierra Leoneans from realising benefits from the resources and the experience of managing national budgets. Part two of the paper focuses on recent contracts signed by the Government of Sierra Leone and multinational corporations that invest in extractive industry. Analysis of the Mining and Minerals Act of 2009, the revised edition of 2012 and corporate social responsibility are essential parts of the narrative. Finally, Part three of the paper proffers strategy that enhances employment opportunities for youths and maximises revenue from Sierra Leone’s natural endowment which in the author`s view have in recent time yielded insignificant benefits to landowners, local councils and national government of Sierra Leone.


The Tragedy of Endowment

A number of countries the world over are endowed with abundant natural resources such as diamond, gold, bauxite, copper, rutile, iron ore, oil and gas etc. The exploration and extraction of such non-renewable resources present unique opportunities for the national governments to use the revenue derived from their sale to effect economic development and poverty reduction policies. While advanced and industrialised countries including Australia, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America have achieved these goals, less developed countries in the continent Africa are yet to manage and transform their endowment of natural resources into sustained and inclusive economic growth (Butler 2004, Alao 2007).

The bedrock of this research is to articulate the link between natural resource management and socio-economic development of African countries in general and Sierra Leone in particular. The author will analyse on the one hand, the mining industry in Sierra Leone with emphasis on current mining contracts between the Government of Sierra Leone and multinational corporations. On the other hand, the effects of mining contracts on the welfare of Sierra Leoneans and the national government development agenda in recent time identify the socio-economic shortcomings and proffer recommendations that will foster rapid social and economic development of Sierra Leone.

Imperial Rule and Struggle for National Liberation in Africa

As a result of acute rivalry among major European imperial powers, the continent of Africa was balkanised at the end of the Berlin Congress in 1885. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Germany chaired the forum. Suffice it to say that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that did not experience the wrath of imperial rule. Liberia gained political freedom more than a century and half ago in 1847, after a brief United States Government colonial regime that lasted for twenty two years. Indeed, the rest of the fifty two countries in Africa fell within the spheres of influence of European Imperial Powers at the turn of the Nineteenth Century.

Interestingly, it was President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who pioneered and championed the national liberation struggle in Africa since Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa that achieved political emancipation from Great Britain in 1957.  For a few African countries including Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Republic of South Africa, the national liberation struggle was characterised by protracted armed struggle that lasted for about a century to rid the continent of Africa of imperial rule. Hence African countries are young compared to countries in the continents of Asia, Europe and North and America (Angotti 1982, Rodney 1974).

The dilemma is that African countries have abundant natural resources and politically independent for more than half a century. Yet their contribution to technological and industrial development is relatively insignificant compared to their counterparts in Asia, Europe and North America. Thus the age – old problem needs the unreserved attention of the current political leadership of countries of Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular (Alao 2007, Collier 2007).

Political Economy of Dependency and Modernisation of Countries in Africa

Imperial rule in the continent of Africa went beyond administration of the territories. Indeed, it included exploration and extraction of raw material from dependent territories. The manufactured products from minerals and agricultural products were exported back to markets in Africa. In the post -independence era, chocolate, bournvita and ovaltine are manufactured from cocoa produced in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire imported to the United Kingdom and France by British and French conglomerates. The finished products are exported to markets in African countries. The above underscores the perpetual dependence of African countries on former imperial powers for survival and pace of development which invariably support the dependency theory predicated on the notion that resources flow from less developed countries to industrialised nations. Additionally, the scenario vindicates the notion that the pillage of human, mineral and agricultural resources of Africa commenced during imperial rule. Such biased relationship enriches the core at the detriment of the periphery (Paul Collier 2010, Amin 1982, Howe 1982).

In sum, the impoverishment of less developed countries and the enrichment of industrialised countries are due to the way the former were integrated in to the world economic system. The process justifies the dependency theory that natural resources, cheap labour and markets are provided by less developed countries without which the industrialized countries would have stagnated in their level of development (Munck 1982, Griffith 1979, Frank 1974, Rodney 1974).

Essentially, the industrialized countries perpetuate dependency by a variety of diplomatic and foreign policy instruments including financial aid, loans, cultural influence, media propaganda and professional training etc. The author would like to point out that an attempt by the political leadership of a less developed country to sever that relationship would be resisted and frustrated by hash economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, incitement of trade unions to stage industrial action against the government of the day, support military coup or outright military intervention. The theory needs to be understood to encapsulate the abject poverty in African countries in general and Sierra Leone in particular (Alao 2007, Frank 1979).

There are two schools of thought to support the above thesis. On the one hand, modernisation school insists that all societies pass through the same stages of development before getting to the stage industrialised countries are today. And that the only way to assist the less developed countries overcome the current vicious poverty trap is to assist them pass the same common path of development by direct foreign investments, education, transfer of technology and integration in to the world market system. On the other hand, the dependency school rejects the above thesis and contends that the less developed countries are not archaic versions of industrialized countries but that they have their peculiar characteristics which if allowed would be developed on their own. Additionally, it is not because the less developed countries are not fully integrated into the world economy but how they are integrated that causes their inordinate poverty disadvantage (Angotti, 1982, Frank 1979, Keith Griffin 1979, Wilber 1979).

Indeed, the debate introduces a ‘paradox’. Although industrialised and less developed countries benefit from such symbiotic relationship, the less developed countries are locked in a detrimental socio-economic position. They depend on jobs that are created by nascent import substitution industries which are inadequate and hindrance to nation building. Therefore unless the status quo is radically transformed, governments of countries in Africa will remain trapped in economic nightmare and poverty for the foreseeable future, unable to provide basic social services, jobs, infrastructural development and opportunities to improve the quality of life for their citizenry (Howe 1982, Weisskopf 1979, Rodney 1974).

Management of Natural Resources in the Post-Independence era in African Countries: Sierra Leone 

Sierra Leone is one of the victims of European scramble for Africa in the Nineteenth Century. At the end of the Berlin Congress in 1885, it became part of the British sphere of influence and subsequently the British Empire. When British trading companies began commercial operations in West Africa, Sierra Leone economy and survival of Sierra Leoneans were inextricably interwoven with the Government of Great Britain. Similar to other African countries that experienced imperial rule, Sierra Leoneans became producers of raw materials for export to Great Britain, cheap labour for imperial firms and Sierra Leone was a market for products manufactured in Great Britain (Frank 1979, MahbubulHaque 1979).

Before imperial rule, Sierra Leoneans were daily engaged in subsistence farming and did not suffer poverty as everybody was fully engaged in agriculture and trade. These were the occupations in the pre-colonial era in Africa. Food was in abundance and people did not suffer hunger until 1462, when Pedro de Sintra, a Portuguese explorer visited the area and named it Sierra Leone. The country became centre of the innocuous slave trade because of the Atlantic Ocean and natural harbor. While the aged and infirm were abandoned to perish, many young men and women were captured, sold and forcibly shipped to America and Europe who in diverse ways contributed immensely to the development of American and European societies. When the slave trade became unprofitable and declared illegal, a number of liberated slaves were repatriated to Freetown by Great Britain. As a result of machinations of British imperial policy, Freetown became a ‘crown colony’ in 1808 and later the rest of Sierra Leone was annexed and declared a ‘British protectorate’ in 1896 (Alie 2004).

Sierra Leone achieved political freedom from Great Britain on 27th April 1961. In a well-attended and colourful ceremony, the Union Jack was lowered and replaced by Sierra Leone national flag of Green, White and Blue. However, before handing over power to an elected indigenous political leadership, the imperial regime ensured of a viable market economic environment characterised by banks and insurance firms that promoted and facilitated the business enterprises owned by British and European investors. By deception the comprador bourgeoisies trained to manage foreign business firms were the umbilical cord that linked the commercial firms to the metropole. But in reality the business partners were conduits who siphoned the wealth of Sierra Leone to the metropole as ‘profits’. Hence foreign owned commercial firms continue to dominate international trade in post –independence Sierra Leone with dire consequences of high unemployment and grinding poverty (Baran 1979, Weisskopf 1979).

‘Poverty’ is a condition where by members of a family are unable to acquire the basic daily needs of life:  food, clothing and shelter, access to health facilities, education and employment. Incidentally, there are ‘absolute’ and ‘relative’ poverty. While absolute poverty is when someone does not have access to sufficient basic necessity of life, relative poverty is when people do not enjoy certain minimum level of living standard determined by either a government or an international organisation such as the United Nations and is measured on discrepancies between different classes in different countries. The emphasis is on inequalities. Currently, the World Bank determines US$1.25 as the poverty base line per person per day (Meier 1976, Johnson 2012).

The author argues that in spite of the presence of abundant mineral and agricultural resources in African countries; the citizenry continue to experience poverty relative to their counterparts in Western Europe, North America and Asia. In a constantly changing world, Africa is yet to locate itself. In the same vein, Sierra Leone is one of the resource-rich countries of Africa. It has diamond, gold, bauxite, rutile, iron ore etc.  Although Sierra Leone has experienced more than half a century of political freedom and endowed with enormous resources, there is insignificant economic development and Sierra Leone is constantly at the bottom rung of the human development indices of the United Nations and World Bank. Also, many Sierra Leoneans languish, find it stressful to get daily livelihood due to chronic joblessness. Indeed, this is the current dreadful state of affairs in Sierra Leone that continue to haunt the current political leadership of Sierra Leone (Gberie 2012, Omoh and Ujah 2013, Kamara 2013).

There are three ostensible reasons for the above dilemma. First, the effects of imperial rule and neo-colonialism in the post – independence era contribute to the exploitation of natural resources of Sierra Leone by foreign owned companies whose investors are citizens of militarily strong, diplomatically powerful, technologically advanced and wealthy nations. Second, the absence of selfless national leadership, political will and strong institutions in Sierra Leone that can responsibly manage the natural resources on behalf of all and sundry and thirdly, the unbridled corruption at all levels of government that siphons revenues of the central government. Currently, the economy of Sierra Leone is donor driven, weak industrial base, grim employment prospects for college, polytechnics and vocational school graduates and above all, the gap between the ruling class and the masses continue to expand at an alarming rate (Gbenda 2011, Gberie 2010, Gbla 2009).

Specifically, corruption at all levels of government is a canker worm and one of the causes of political instability and horrendous poverty in Sierra Leone. Additionally, it drains national revenue, constraints tax collection, undermines direct foreign investments and stifles poverty alleviation policies of the national government. The funds that could be used to support the provision of social services such as education, health and food security are siphoned by greedy government officials into private accounts overseas (Gberie 2010, Kallon 2004)

Interestingly, Sierra Leone has relied on mining especially diamonds for its economic base during the past eighty years. As one of the major producers and exporters of titanium, bauxite and gold; Sierra Leone is among the largest producers of rutile and has one of the largest natural harbours in the world where ships with various dimensions from everywhere in the world berth at Queen Elizabeth ll Quay at Freetown. In spite of the above positive economic attributes, over 70% of youths are in dire straits and expect much from the government. They roam the streets in urban centres, disenchanted with the government leaders and vulnerable to engage in various survival strategies. Their active participation in the democratic process did not pay off in 2007 and 2012. After the 2012 National Elections, the elected officials underplayed them and abandoned them to their fate. Since there is no hope for them in the system, deprived of basic fundamental amenities because the leadership of the country has failed them, they are left with no option but to engage in anti-socialbehaviour in order to eke a living while senior national government officials and well placed civil servants continue to amass wealth even when the attitudinal behavioural change is on, the anti-corruption campaign set to combat graft, greed and bribery is in full swing and above all, the masses are condemned to abject poverty further widening the gap between the ruling political elite and the electorate (Kpundeh 2004, Kallon 2004, Therborn 1980).

Currently, what Sierra Leonean society has in abundance is army of unskilled and unemployed youths. Among other things, they are outcasts of society, drug addicts and peddlers, criminals, pimps, street urchins, vagabonds, vagrants, beggars and prostitutes who derive no benefits from the economy of the country and are useful only during national elections.  Political Demagogues use them during political campaigns and rallies to cause mayhem for pittance and the cheapest material reward they are offered since they have no mind of their own and therefore can easily be swayed by the highest political bidder instead of supporting well-meaning public spirited politicians that would attend to their welfare if elected to office (Kallon 2004, Therborn 1980).

In a similar vein, Issa Kamara writes that the political, economic and social conditions experienced by Sierra Leoneans since independence has no way been accidental. In his view, it is due to: “miscalculations, lack of foresight and direction by successive political leaders and share greed, loss of love for each other,unpatriotic nationalism, mismanagement of natural resources,absence of accountability and transparency, bad governance,corruption, disparity between the haves and have-nots, marginilisation of deprived and under privileged, the failure to unite the nation, political and regional polarization,breakdown in law and order, human rights abuses, injusticeand misplacement of national priorities” (Issa Kamara 2013).

Also, Young Kim, president of the World Bank weighed in when he declared in a policy statement his determination to terminate extreme poverty by 2030. He considers ending poverty as one of the most important goals of his   administration. He added that: “If all the people in extreme poverty, 400 million are children, what more motivation do we need to accelerate progress towards the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030? How can we in good conscience not do all we can to lift 400 million, their families and hundreds of millions of others out of povertyand in to a life of opportunity? (Gab Omoh and Emma Ujah 2013).

Sierra Leone Natural EndowmentManagement of Minerals and Multinational Corporations

In recent times, the agricultural sector characterised by subsistence farming is the most productive sector in Africa and involves over 70% of the population of African countries. Sierra Leone is not an exception and is one of the countries in Africa that has diverse and rich mineral base. Today, mining is a significant component of the economy. The current mineral sector of the economy of Sierra Leone can be traced to the discovery of bauxite in 1926 and the Minerals Act enacted by the Legislative Council in 1927. Subsequently, diamond was discovered in Kono District in 1930 and later gold, titanium, iron ore and now oil in various parts of the country. Significant exploration plans for oil are under way (Kargbo 2012).

Furthermore, through imperial administrative arrangements, organised mining began in Sierra Leone in the late 1920s and between 1934 and 1956, the Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST) dominated the mining sector and held monopoly of prospecting, mining and marketing diamonds. The SLST was initially financed by the Consolidated African Selection Trust (CAST), a conglomerate that owned mining operations in former British colonies: Sierra Leone, Gold Coast now Ghana, Nigeria and The Gambia in West Africa. And through imperial administrative imperatives, the Sierra Leone Selection Trust acquired the sole monopoly to mine diamond in Sierra Leone for ninety nine years. The policy made it illegal for Sierra Leoneans to mine diamond in their country without the tacit approval of the imperial regime (Kargbo 2012, www. Salonereporter.com).

However, as a result of the manifestations of political freedom and popular demand, the mineral exploitation policy was radically transformed in the post-independence era. The multinational conglomerate gave up the right to mine diamond outside its lease area. The new policy sounded alarm, initiated a mad rush to the diamond fields and gave rise to artisanal and small scale mining of alluvial diamond. The effect was that the once thriving agricultural sector in the economy collapsed within a decade when farmers abandoned their farms for the diamond fields in search of ‘quick wealth’.  Indeed, 70% of the population engaged in farming for their livelihood turned out to be miners shifted from the agricultural sector to the mining sector of the economy with devastating consequences (Kargbo 2012, M’cleod 2012).

In order to maximise the national revenue base, the Government of Sierra Leone and SLST went into partnership and organised the National Diamond Mining Company (NDMC) in 1970. In the new venture, the national government acquired majority shares and as was expected, NDMC had a huge impact on the economy through provision of jobs. Additionally, the new policy created the avenue for the national government to lay the cornerstone of managing and regulating the mining industry on behalf of the citizenry. To achieve that goal and improve national income, the ministry of mines was created to supervise and manage mining operations in the nation (www.ministryofmineralresoucesofsierraleone.sl, Kargbo 2012).

The raison d’être of the new ministry of mines was to efficiently supervise and regularise the mining sector in Sierra Leone with emphasis on issuing mining licenses, monitoring operations of multinational corporations involved in mining and ensuring compliance of national laws, respect for values and beliefs of the community in which they operate, generate revenue for the national government, prevent illicit mining and illegal diamond trade as well as curb smuggling and money laundering.  Before the coming into being of the ministry of mines, a greater proportion of the revenue from the sale of mineral resources accrued to smuggling, illicit trade and profits of foreign owned multinational corporations at the expense of the Government of Sierra Leone(Kargbo 2012, Abiodun Alao 2007, Mineral Policy 2003).

Currently, the mining fields in Sierra Leone cover about 18000 square kilometers and are located in the South and Eastern Regions. Since the end of the 1991 horrendous and catastrophic internecine conflict, the mining sector has contributed significantly to the national economy. Today, the sector employs about 14% of the labour force, accounts for 60% of export earnings and 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP). While large scale exploration and mining are carried out by foreign multinational corporations, indigenous privately owned firms and small groups invest in artisanal and small scale production of diamond and gold. Indigenous firms lack the wherewithal to invest in mining and export of bauxite, rutile and iron ore due to weak capital base, untrained managerial staff and above all, lack of equipment and technology to operate the mines (Kargbo 2012, M’cleod 2012).

Prior to the attainment of independence, the enormous natural endowment of Sierra Leone conveyed to the rest of the world the fallacious notion that Sierra Leone was destined to a wealthy and very bright future when political freedom was achieved. Indeed, that has not been the case. Instead, the post-independence era has been a dismal disappointment to all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans in all walks of life. Additionally, since the enactment of the Minerals Act of 1927, substantial percentage of the revenue generated from the sale of the vast natural endowment has not benefited Sierra Leoneans. Rather, it has and continues to accrue and benefit foreign investors and staff who operate the multinational corporations(Kargbo 2012, M’cleod 2012).

Currently, the Government of Sierra Leone lacks the wherewithal to provide commuter buses, adequate hospital beds, new structures for schools and tertiary institutions, paved streets in urban communities, feeder roads, interstate highways and affordable housing for the citizenry. Similar to the budgets of many governments of African countries, the national budget is donor driven. It was due to the above shortcomings that partially contributed to the acute political instability and outbreak of the eleven – year civil war. During that civil strife among other things, the cardinal objective of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) with rag and tag youths under the leadership Corporal FodaySaybanaSankoh was to control the diamond fields in the South and Eastern Regions. It is from the above perspective that Abiodun Alao describes the presence of abundant natural resources in African countries and inability of their governments to provide basic social services for the citizenry as ‘tragedy of endowment’.

Furthermore, he argues that “the politics surrounding the management of natural resources politics has brought out someof the extremes in Africa’s security complexities. Among the issues, that have been thrown up are violent ethno-nationalism, acrimonious intergroup relations, youth revolts, small arm and light weapons proliferation, corruption, money laundering,warlordism, cross-border looting mercenarism and alleged links with global terrorism (Alao 2007)”.

Since 2009, the under-mentioned eight multinational corporations have invested in the mining sector and are currently operating mines in Sierra Leone.

Koidu Holdings                                                      Diamond

  1. African Mineral (Sierra Leone) Ltd.                   Iron Ore
  2. London Mining Ltd.                                               Iron Ore
  3. Sierra Rutile Ltd.                                                    Rutile
  4. Cluff Gold Ltd.                                                        Gold
  5. Nimini Mining Company Ltd.                              Gold
  6. Sierra Minerals Holding Ltd.                               Bauxite
  7. Octea Mining Company Ltd.                               Kimberlite

(National Minerals Agency Newsletter 2012)

In order to improve revenue generation, the Sierra Leone Parliament amended the Mines and Minerals Act of 1994 in 1996. The act was revised in 2003 and 2009. Specifically, the provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 among other things, were to reduce the rapacious plunder of the mineral resources of Sierra Leone, improve the management of the ministry that oversees national endowment and above all increase the revenue base of Sierra Leone Government. An important legislation in the same vein was the Investment Promotion Act of 2004 designed to attract foreign investment in all sectors and add value to the production of minerals. Three years later, Parliament enacted in to law Landmark legislation – the National Minerals Act of 2012. The act established the National Minerals Agency (NMA) in the Ministry of Mine and Minerals Resources. It began operation on 1st February 2013. (Joan S. Bull 2013, Mines and Minerals Act of 2009).

The national minerals agency is mandated to carry out a number of functions including administration and enforcement of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 related acts to the trade in minerals and their regulations; recommend to the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources acts, laws, regulations and policies that need to be amended by the national legislature and advise the political head of the ministry on any policy matters concerning natural resource governance in general and specifically mining. It is expected that NMA formulate and implement plans for the development of the mineral sector with emphasis on enforcing corporate social responsibility in their areas of operation, respect and promote the cultural values, norms, beliefs and rights of communities in which the mines are located (NMA News Letter 2012, National Mineral Act 2012).

In addition to the above functions, the national minerals agency is charged with the under-mentioned responsibilities.

  1. Accelerate economic development of the mineral sector
  2. Maximise contribution of the mineral sector to the national government revenue.
  3. Ensure full compliance with all agreements, laws, policies and regulations pertaining to the mineral sector.
  4. Promote and enforce responsible and sustainable minerals management, exploration, mining and trading.
  5. Promote transparency, accountability and leadership in mineral sector activity.
  6. Make NMA a world class high performance regulator and service provider. (The National Mineral Agency News Letter 2012).

The activities of Sierra Leone Parliament in recent time indicate that the Sierra Leone Government has developed policies designed to reduce the horrendous exploitation, eradicate marginilisation of Sierra Leoneans,  improve respect for local laws, values and beliefs and above all, increase benefits derived from the sale of the Sierra Leone’s endowment in the foreseeable future.

In spite of the abundant natural resources, Sierra Leone is a ‘beggar’ nation. Additionally, the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone is bleak due to the sudden outbreak of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever Virus epidemic which unfortunately has killed more than seven hundred people with no end in sight. As a result of the intensity and severity of the epidemic and the Government of Sierra Leone lacks the wherewithal to contain the virus including drugs, private personal equipment, trained medical personnel and hospitals, Sierra Leoneans rely on the goodwill of the international community. This has been the pattern during the past half a century of independence (Commentary AYV News 2014, Schlein 2014, and Kamara 2014).

Suffice it to say that the Ebola Virus epidemic is a wakeup call for Sierra Leone and has exposed the failed policies of the ruling party. The lack of investment in national health sector contributed immensely to the death of many Sierra Leoneans and hundreds more infected with the dreadful virus with no end in sight. It must be recalled that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation was on the one hand unprepared for an emergency of the magnitude experienced at the outbreak of the epidemic in March 2014 since there were no ambulances to covey patients to hospitals that were ordinarily sick and Ebola victims. On the other hand, there were no drugs and beds in hospitals to accommodate the sick as well as those infected with the dreadful virus.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The author emphasised that the national governments of the three epic centres of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever Virus epidemic in the Sub-region of West Africa viz., Guinea - Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia were quite unprepared due to grossly under-funded health facilities over the years. The health sector in the three countries was sub-standard and hence could not cope with the scourge. It is the international community including World Bank, international monetary fund, philanthropist organisations, multinational corporations, European Union, and major powers: United Kingdom, United States, France, China, France, Japan and Cuba that are significant donors. Thus far, they have provided (and continue to provide) the wherewithal: funds, equipments, physicians, nurses and military personnel to salvage humanitarian crises in West Africa (Commentary- Bill Gates 2014).

In conclusion, the Sierra Leone Government will have enough revenue to provide social services, employment and radically improve the quality of life of Sierra Leoneans if the under-mentioned recommendations are carefully considered and implemented.

  1. For transparency and accountability, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Resources and National Minerals Agency publish monthly report for consumption quantum carats of diamonds, ounces of gold and tonnage of bauxite, rutile and iron ore exported and revenue derived from their sale.
  2. Government of Sierra Leone (a) prioritises the ministry of health and sanitation by quadrupling its budget.
  3. Sierra Leone reviews duty free concessions policy granted to multinational corporations.
  4. The mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency must be strengthened and tightened to ensure that lands degraded through mining be restored by firms that operate the mines.
  5. Parliament enacts statutes that compel multinational corporations to (a) process three stages of iron ore, bauxite and rutile in Sierra Leone before export as a means to reduce the acute unemployment among youths; (b) mandate annual payment of 0.5% of investment to families that own the property in which minerals are mined; (c) multinational corporations contribute at least 0.5% of annual profit to the development fund of districts and chiefdoms in which they operate specifically for the construction of feeder roads, markets, cemeteries, dwelling facilities and community centres; (d) ensure that multinational corporations publish social responsibilities undertaken in communities in which they operate.
  6. Government establishes a ‘National Lands Commission’ in the ministry of lands and country planning that regularises land issues in Sierra Leone. This policy will eradicate leasing of farm lands by corrupt paramount chiefs to bio-fuel corporations at the expense of farmers.

Paper Prepared for Presentation at the World Educators Forum 3rd International Conference on the Theme Society, Education and Technology: The Nexus Hosted by University of Buea Scheduled at the Chariot Hotel, Mile 17, Buea, Southwest Region, Federal Republic of Cameroon 10th November 2014 – 14th November 2014.

About the author: Habib M Sesay, PHD is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Email: sesayhabib2014@gmail.com. Cell: +232 (78) 690 528

(C) Politico 02/03/16