FREETOWN, June 5, 2020 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors discussed a new Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone for 2021-2026, which prioritizes investments in human capital, job creation, economic diversification and building a resilient health system.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 5.1 percent in 2019 driven mainly by robust activities in agriculture and services. With the spread of the virus in Sierra Leone and the effects of the global pandemic, the economy is estimated to contract by between 2.3 and 3.1 percent in 2020 and growth could be 1.4 to 2.0 percentage points lower than forecast for the medium term. Within its fragile context, the country was already facing a human capital crisis with the lowest life expectancy (51 years) and high maternal and child mortality. For example, more than a tenth of newborns die before reaching age of five and the country has the highest maternal mortality globally. A key challenge for the Government is to diversify the economy to raise real income per capita growth above the population growth of 2.1 percent in order to ensure that the gains in reducing poverty and inequality are sustained.
“The new strategy is about people and jobs, and how to support Sierra Leone in advancing economic recovery and poverty reduction, which is critical in the face of the human and economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
Guided by the priorities of the government’s Medium-Term National Development Plan, the World Bank Group’s three areas of support are to:
Building human capital and social inclusion: this involves improving the quality of education, enhancing access to quality reproductive, maternal and child health services and early warning disease surveillance systems; and scaling up social safety-nets.
- Boosting competitiveness and economic diversification: the Bank will support the expansion of access to an affordable energy and sustainable energy mix through developing a least-cost sector expansion plan with a focus on renewables. It will also promote the use of digital technologies and greater competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises in the agribusiness, fisheries and tourism sectors.
- Strengthening accountability and macro-fiscal stability: this means strengthening revenue mobilization and the efficiency of public spending, improving the delivery of essential services, promoting inclusive financial innovations, and enhancing the regulatory environment in the mining and fisheries sectors.
“IFC focuses on promoting reforms that boost competitiveness, spur more inclusive growth and create better quality jobs,” said Babacar Faye, IFC Resident Representative for Sierra Leone. “Supporting the development of a resilient and competitive private sector-led economy through our integrated advisory and investment engagement, will also help the country in its effort to diversify the economy.”
The IFC’s strategic priorities in Sierra Leone will notably cover three critical focus areas: Agribusiness, Energy, and Mining. Furthermore, IFC’s Creating Market Strategy will continue to support innovative business developments for transformational projects, notably in infrastructure.
MIGA recognizes the need for guarantees in order to attract meaningful foreign investment and sees opportunities to support private investment in power, telecommunication and commercial agriculture sector, in particular supporting independent power projects.
Currently, the country has 12 national and four regional operations receiving IDA funding, amounting to US$584 million, with a focus on human capital, agriculture and agri-processing, energy and strengthening the regulatory and institutional capacity of the extractive sector.