In 2015, EDSA embarked on the pilot phase of installing AMI (Automated Metering Infrastructure) system better known as Smart Meters in the Western Area. The pilot phase was a success story! The AMI system was introduced for efficient and effective revenue collection purposes for EDSA.
I would have been a dead man by now because of two heartless Sierra Leonean truck drivers who were driving the Chinese trucks when they had almost finished constructing the Jui-Regent Road. But I thank God, they could not kill me for their habitual bad heart driving.
Bad heart driving by drivers in Sierra Leone has killed many people. Most or all gruesome road accidents that occur daily along all the tarred roads in Sierra Leone are caused by drivers whom I believe have no love for their fellow drivers, pedestrians, okada/keke riders and their passengers.
It was 24 April 2014. I left Bo City at dawn to travel to Freetown same day in order to come and deposit a filled-DAAD Scholarship Form at German Embassy. While in the car, I was worried that I will arrive after the Embassy had closed for the day. But I was fortunate to arrive at Jui before 11 A.M.
8am on Friday, 1st November at the Bintumani Conference Centre. There was an immediate sense that here was a different type of event. Energetic, polished, witty and tech savvy with a clever layering of showbiz.
This was the launch of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy (NIDS). Led by Dr David Moinina Sengeh, Head of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation, championed by the President of Sierra Leone and delivered by a hand-picked team which is immediately distinguishable from the rest of the Government of Sierra Leone by its youth and attention to gender balance.
A bill entitled ‘The Public Order (Amendment) Act, 2019’ has been gazetted. It seeks to “amend the Public Order Act, 1965 (Act No. 46 of 1965) by repealing Part V which deals with defamatory and seditious libel and to provide for other related matters.’ This followed Cabinet’s approval to repeal same. The next destination in the repeal process is Parliament.
1849 was the birth year of a great leader who would help to change the future for her people in Seirra Leone. Madame Yoko’s birth name was Soma and she was a member of the Mendeland Gbo Chiefdom of Sierra Leone. Soma would officially change her name to Yoko during her Sande or initiation ceremony within her culture; she would also become known as a one of the most graceful dancers amongst her people.
Mariam Sesay, 28, knew her family would be delighted if she were in Europe. The benefits of having someone there were obvious – better houses, children well dressed and never lacking school fees or food. Sons and daughters in Europe were the pride of their families. Everyone in Sierra Leone wanted someone in the family to be abroad.
One of my earliest encounters of the cash dependent nature of commerce in Sierra Leone, was at the Lungi Airport, in January 2018, my first time ever in the country. In the usual manner, we had completed the arrival formalities at the airport and then had to buy a ticket for the ferry ride from Lungi to Freetown. The cost of the ticket was $40 or its equivalent in Leones. My host at the time had counted approximately Le300,000 in cash and paid for the boat ticket. “Surely, this cash payment by my host must be an exception”, I thought to myself, but within minutes, I had a change of mind, because everyone else at the airport was using cash to buy their tickets. At this point I concluded that this must be the norm. Or was this cash practice peculiar to the airport environment? Perhaps, Freetown, my ultimate destination would be different.
It was a nice sunny weekend and apart from visiting the beaches, it was also a perfect time to to replenish my stock of groceries at the supermarket. I selected items I needed and then headed for the checkout counter to make payment. Whilst in the queue to my utter amazement, I observed different customers settle their bills one after the other with large bundles of cash that ranged from Le250,000 to Le6,000,000. On the other hand, I was fortunate enough that the supermarket had a Point of Sale (POS) terminal and settled my bill with my Mastercard debit card, albeit with some costs, a point we will focus on in more detail later.
At this point, it was ripe to conclude that commerce in the Sierra Leonean economy was transacted largely (up to 95%) on a cash basis and the major question that begs for an answer is - Why is this the case? Perhaps more concerning is the fact that similar sized economies within the West African sub region have made significant strides in promoting alternative payment channels and reduced the amount of cash, over the years, which is used in facilitating commerce. A few points will start to provide reasons for this discrepancy
The level of literacy and awareness of alternative payment channels in the country is rather low and there needs to be a massive educational campaign to sensitise the people of the available alternative payment methods and its benefits for personal and business use thus encouraging a “cash-lite” society. The gap in education was the subject of a recent meeting I had with one of the Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), where I emphasised that educational initiatives will surely have the greatest impact towards achieving a cashless Salone economy.
Financial inclusion is another factor that has impeded the growth of a cashless system. There are approximately 700,000 unique bank customers in the country, when compared to a total population of 7.4 million which translates to approximately 9.4% of the population having bank accounts. Unfortunately, we cannot begin to realise the objectives of a cashless system until the majority of the adult population (circa 50% of the total population) have and operate their bank accounts. On the other hand, the combined subscriber base of the TelCos is approximately 6.2million; unique subscriber base, probably 5.2 million after eliminating double counting of subscribers with 2 SIM cards (out of which 406,000 subscribers currently have mobile wallets). This clearly indicates that there are more mobile phone subscribers (with every likelihood of having mobile wallets) than the bank customers. But, interestingly the bulk of cash transactions are routed through the banks, implying the need to increase the number of bank accounts, if the country is to achieve significant mileage in financial inclusion. The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), launched its financial inclusion drive in 2009 which involved working closely with local banks to promote this initiative. Although, I will continue to reflect on the possibility of beneficial partnerships between the Commercial banks and the TelCos as a means of achieving this objective, on the presumption that both parties can work in unison and focus on economic development.
The unavailability of robust and relevant technology infrastructure has also contributed to the pace at which the country can achieve a cashless system. If we focus on achieving our financial inclusion objectives by way of ‘brick and mortar’ expansion this will prove an uneconomical approach for the commercial banks and should rather explore technology enabled expansion programs, which seems the only practical means of getting banking services to the unbanked areas of the provinces. Unfortunately, unreliable network and internet services accompanied by lack of investments in technology by some of the commercial banks have all contributed to the stunted growth of alternative payments we are witnessing today.
Perhaps one of the major drawbacks in the prominence of electronic payments is the absence of a National Switch. A national switch essentially interconnects all the banks operating in the country which facilitates instant settlement of any payment from one bank to another. For instance, if a customer of Bank A initiates an electronic payment from, say a phone, to another customer in bank B, the national switch ensures that the account in Bank B is credited instantly. It would not be incorrect to say that the reason merchants opt for cash in their commercial transactions is because of the immediate value effect, but with immediate value also achieved through electronic payments where a national switch operates, the propensity for cash as a means of payment reduces drastically and becomes less attractive. Over the years, there have been disappointments and delays in the establishment of a national switch but with the dedication and commitment of the current Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) management coupled with the international support of The World Bank, we are anticipating that the national switch will become operational by the end of this year. This will exponentially grow electronic and cashless payments, with a caveat, I must admit. With thousands of transactions occurring by the minute, the country’s cashless objective would only be met when the national switch, in question, is professionally managed to support the demand. Anything less, could create room for merchants and consumers losing confidence in the system and from experience across Africa, the efficiency of any National switch is as good as the experience and technical know-how of its operator, which is a key point I will focus on in a subsequent paper.
THE CASHLESS JOURNEY SO FAR
Having carefully examined some of the challenges that were faced over the years in eliminating cash from the system, we can now review some of those successes that have been achieved in the electronic payment space in the country.
i) In terms of numbersand value, the players in the forefront would be the TelCos with their mobile wallets that are accessible to majority of their subscribers. With the integration of these wallets to some merchants, they enable electronic payments from subscribers’ phones directly to the merchants. This has to a large extent eliminated the use of cash for such payments. The percentage of these payments to the total payments within the system continues to witness tremendous growth. Needless to say, if the country is to make significant strides in a cashless system, the banks have to be at the forefront as they collectively control the bulk of the cash transactions in the ecosystem. But it would be right to state that if the banks do not immediately put in place measures and systems to promote cash less transactions, the Telcos would in the next 5 years further increase their market share of the payments within the ecosystem with their mobile wallets.
ii) There has been reasonable success in deploying Point of Sale (POS) Terminals to the merchants (but mainly the highbrow restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and entertainment centres). The largest suppliers of these terminals are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Eco Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB). Statistics of payments in this space would show that payment through foreign debit cards are prevalent. The simple reason is that payment through local debit cards attract prohibitive charges due to the absence of a national switch meaning settlement will need to be through costly international gateways. The establishment of a national switch should therefore expectedly bring down transaction costs.
iii) Online payment methods through internet banking platforms are also an alternative means that have been less explored mainly due to the cost and epileptic nature of the internet service as well as the lack of investment from the Banks to facilitate the internet-based payments. However, those in the forefront of this space would include Standard Chartered, Ecobank, UBA, GTB and more recently, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) and Zenith Bank. The gradual improvement of the internet service across the country and the reduction in the cost of data will result in exponential growth of cashless paymentswithin the next year.
iv) Over the last few years, the unreliability and cost of the internet had propelled some banks to develop payment solutions that are more SMS (short messaging service) dependent giving way to the possibility of customers to make payments from one bank account to another bank account or indeed to pay bills through their phones. Key players in this initiative have been GTBank with GT Simpay and more recently Rokel Bank, with Simkorpor.
Despite these milestones to achieve this “cash-lite” endeavour, statistics shows that the cashless payments represent an insignificant amount (8%) of the total payments within the banking system and more needs to be done by the banks to improve the level of cashless payments. It will however take the collaborative effort of the banks coupled with the conscious effort of both the private and public sector to achieve cashless payments of at least 50%.
The country’s level of cash transactions is perhaps the highest in sub Saharan Africa and is supported by the recent Sierra Leone economic report produced by the World bank in June 2019, which indicates that cash payments are significantly lower in other African economies.
MEASURES TO PUT IN PLACE
Undoubtedly, it will be almost an impossible task to achieve a 100% cashless payment system in Sierra Leone or indeed any African country but a “cash-lite” system is largely achievable with the objective of limiting cash payments to a maximum of 40% of total payments within the system. Towing the line of other related African economies, that have achieved “cash-lite” payment systems, certain measures
would need to be in place before significant mileage can be made in this direction. Some of these measures includ
1.The cash culture is deeply entrenched in the system and the first step towards achieving a “cash-lite” system is creating the proper awareness through education at all levels of the consumption chain. The regulator has to be in the forefront of this campaign but should also be in joint venture between the public and the private sectors. Once the foundations have been established, we can thenachieve a seamless paradigm shift in thinking.
2.In an economy like Sierra Leone, as indeed some other African countries, the Government body is the largest spender and if a “cash-lite” objective is to be achieved, the spending policy and pattern of the Government needs to be in line with this objective. All major forms of Government’s recurrent and capital expenditures incurred for instance in the payment of staff salaries or contractors should be done electronically or via cheques directly to bank accounts. Government bodies should discourage the issuing of cash cheques or making any form of cash payments to third parties. Electronic means of payments are not only safer but also more efficient in the sense that the beneficiaries have faster access to their funds rather than the practice of issuing cash cheques. This practice has largely been achieved by the Government bodies in the payment of salaries. Some other forms of payment, however, are still made in cash and there is a need to reverse this trend both for the cashless objective and also for financial probity within the system. A method, where both government revenues and expenditure are through electronic means and routed through the bank accounts would not only result in increased revenues in the Government coffers but will also facilitate the accountability and audit-ability of the Accountant and Auditor Generals of the federation.
3.The key private sector players also have a role in driving the economy towards a “cash-lite” system. These will of course include the large mining companies, financial institutions, insurance companies, international NGOs, manufacturing and trading companies, construction companies, key importers etc who occupy the highest position in the consumption value chain. These companies receive payment from the Government representing proceeds of executed contracts, international remittances from abroad and proceeds from the sale of either manufactured or imported goods. Being at the helm of the value chain, cash related policies that are imposed by these companies will trickle down the value chain towards the achievement of our overall adjective. Similar to the case of the Government institutions, these companies should discourage any form of cash payments either as salaries or to suppliers / contractors with all payments made either electronically or via cheques. Most banks now have specific online platforms that enable all forms of payments without the staff of these companies having to leave the office or even issuing cheques. Payments are more efficient without the need to carry cash from one place to the other. On the other hand, these companies should also ensure that cash sales proceeds are discouraged as practicable as possible, so consumers are encouraged to pay for their goods via electronic means. These will include:
-POS terminals to facilitate payments through debit cards. As I pointed out earlier, this requires significant investment by the banks to ensure most merchants have access to POS’ and a massive awareness campaign, also by the banks to create awareness of the possibilities of settling bills with these alternative forms of payments.
-USSD banking giving the consumer the ability to make payments from their phones but also, for this payment alternative to be effective, there needs to be proper awareness, heavy investment in technology by the banks and investment in notification systems to alert the merchants once payments are made into their bank accounts.
-QR Codes - unique scan codes that can be deployed by merchants to facilitate payments through phones that have been linked to unique bank accounts. Again, this method of payment involves significant investment in such technologies.
4.For the Government and private sector to effectively drive our “cash-lite” objective as described in 2 & 3 above, the critical success factor in achieving this, is the commissioning of the national switch as a catalyst to virtually eliminating cash transactions. A mechanism that will enable instant interbank transactions is the key to reducing the appetite for cash as electronic payments will also be able to play the role of cash in providing immediate value forboth personal and business transactions. Additionally, electronic payments are currently very costly to the consumer which will be greatly reduced with the operation of a national switch. We commend the strides made by the management of BSL regarding the issue of the national switch and look forward to the end of this year when the switch will be commissioned.
5.Given the financial inclusion levels in the country, another critical success factor is the ability to make it relatively easier for consumers to open bank accounts which is a pre-requisite to performing cashless transactions (apart from the transactions via mobile wallets of the TelCos which is more restrictive than a proper bank account). A major obstacle faced by prospective bank account holders is the provision of relevant documentation such as Identity documents as part of the KYC requirements for opening bank accounts. GTBank has been pivotal in the discussions with the regulator in establishing a tiered KYC structure to ensure lower value accounts (which, considering the level of earnings in Sierra Leone, will probably constitute up to 40% of total bank accounts) can be opened with less stringent KYC requirements. Approval process for this tiered KYC structure is in the final stages with the BSL.
5. Agency Banking - To complement the role of technology in boosting financial inclusion is also the need of an agency banking structure which would ensure banks are able to reach and provide banking services to those remote areas through third parties with relatively lower operating costs.
6.If consumers are expected to carry out their transactions through electronic means then it should be at a reasonable and not a prohibitive cost. The steps so far taken by SALCAB in this direction should be commended but if the full effect of a cashless economy is to be felt, there needs to be further reduction in the cost of data even if that means a direct intervention of the government towards this goal.
BENEFITS OF A CASHLESS SYSTEM
Having examined some of the factors that need to be in place to reduce the cash transactions in our commercial space, It would be inconclusive if we did not assess some of the benefits practising economies have been able to achieve with the significant reductions in the economy’s cash transactions over the years.
1.One positive thing I have observed during my year in Sierra Leone is the relative peace and security in the country and as such the benefits of a “cash-lite” system would be less of addressing security concerns and more of moving commercial transactions from the informal system to the formal system. If the Government and major private companies are able to succeed in restricting the bulk of their revenues and expenditures to cashless means, then to a large extent, economic activity will be trackable and more accurate in measurement.
2.As a fallout of the accountability of such a system, the government is able to increase its taxable base with more revenues accruing to the government in form of taxes which would ultimately lead to the reduction of budget deficits. The Government has achieved significant mileage between 2017 and 2018 in reducing its budget deficits through increased tax revenues (mainly from an aggressive collection scheme and increasing the tax base through cancellation of existing tax concessions) and maintaining government expenditure at 2017 levels enabled by a tight fiscal policy. A “cash-lite” system will definitely accelerate this revenue drive sought by the Government.
3.The international community through various bodies such as the FATF, JMLSG and GIABA are tasked with ensuring that Anti Money Laundering (AML) practices are enhanced worldwide. A major deterrent in money laundering practices is the reduction of cash as a means of enabling commercial transactions, and a “cash-lite” system will therefore promote AML initiatives within the system. FATF is an international body that ranks the AML practices of all the countries and publishes on a yearly basis, rankings which are circulated internationally especially to the banking and finance communities. Having strong AML practices will improve the FATF ranking of Sierra Leone as a country, which will in turn boost international transactions with other countries based on the restoration of confidence that AML practices have improved. A major constraint the commercial banks face in Sierra Leone is the inability to establish correspondent banking relationships and a major reason for this is the low ranking of the country on the FATF list and the rather poor AML policies existing within the banking system in general. A situation where commercial banks do not have partnerships with offshore correspondent banks will hinder their ability to carry out cross border transactions such as wire transfers and establishing letters of credit which stifles the operations of the banks and restricts economic growth in terms of international trade.
4.Similar to promoting AML practices, perhaps another benefit of a “cash-lite” system is curbing to a very large degree, corrupt practices within the system. Without a doubt, proceeds of corruption, is largely transferred by cash and building a system that is not cash driven will minimise corruption. This is largely to be driven by the government by restricting all payments to electronic methods which ensures all payments are routed through the banking system.
5.Achieving the objective of a “cash-lite” system would need to be preceded by increasing the financial inclusion levels in the country. This would mean migrating more of the population to the banking system (opening bank accounts for those who currently don’t have one) and it is expected that over time such customers might be granted some form of credit facilities which would lead to creation of money and wealth which would ultimately lead to an increase in the country’s GDP.
Douglas McGregor, a foremost psychologist in his “theory X and Y” management theory postulated two types of human behaviour, one that is naturally motivated and the other that needs to be motivated. Concluding with this theory in mind, we should consider the possibility of the system not naturally gravitating towards the objective of a “cash-lite” one and perhaps a final measure that may be adopted would be for the regulator to implement a “cash-lite” policy that regulates the maximum amount of cash that can be withdrawn from or deposited into any bank account. This will usually apply to all forms of bank accounts whether individual or corporate accounts and punitive charges are usually imposed on any amounts withdrawn or deposited above the stipulated limits. Several countries have implemented cash less policies in the sub region and punitive charges range between 2% to 3.5% of amounts over stipulated limits.
It is the writer’s opinion that with Government support, the regulator’s will, proper education and the right investments by the financial institutions, the achievement of a “cash-lite” system in Salone is definitely more of a possibility than a hopeless endeavour.
The writer has made reasonable assumptions and employed acceptable methodologies in arriving at some of the conclusions in this piece but bears no responsibility whatsoever on any fallout for reliance on the information in this write up. It is purely an expression of opinion on the issue under discourse.
Chairperson, Hon. Ministers, Commissioners, Directors, MDAs present, civil society organizations, development partners, members of the fourth estate, staff of Development Initiative Programme and Child Fund, Distinguished Participants, ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here today, to participate in the launch of the EU funded project ‘‘Community Empowerment for Prevention of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) for Women and Girls’’.
As EU we take our responsibility to speak up when rights are at stake and we take action when action is due. We want a world where the rights of girls and women are claimed, valued and respected by all, and where everyone can fulfil their potential and contribute to a more fair and just society for all.
What gives you more joy than to observe young girls, in play or in school; young girls who articulate with great fluency the women they want to become; girls with big plans and great dreams; girls who look at the future full of hope and ambition.
And yet we know that much of this hope and ambition will not be fulfilled. Because they are girls.
Does anyone have the right to sit still if we witness that the mere fact of being a girl or a women, puts you in a position of disadvantage? Does anyone really believe that there can be any merit in treating half the population as second class citizens?
Do we really believe in development if that development does not fully embrace women and girls as powerful agents of that development? This is not just about a fundamental human right, it is just as much about harnessing the potential of women and girls. This is what the EU stands for.
Child marriage, teenage pregnancy and female genital mutilation/cutting are intertwined as they are all rooted in the same social and cultural issues: gender inequality, socio-cultural norms, religious interpretation, poverty and lack of access to education and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information and services.
If a young girl or even a child is forced into marriage or if a teenage girl becomes pregnant we know that their health and education will suffer. But beyond that, when these girls become young women they will miss out on economic opportunities and decision-making in the family and in their communities.
FGM/C can also harm the sexual health and empowerment of young women. That is why child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and female genital mutilation/circumcision (FGM/C) are receiving more attention than ever in recent years.
If we, as responsible partners, as responsible agents of change do not redouble our efforts to reduce child marriage and FGM/C and prevent teenage pregnancy then we will fail in our efforts to realise the Sustainable Development Goals which are driving our shared commitment as partners in development.
In Sierra Leone for instance, the practice of child marriage and female genital mutilation/circumcision are ongoing and teenage pregnancy is prevalent in different towns/districts/regions.
The fact that today more than 10% of women – girls – get married before they reach the age of 15 is staggering. Almost 40% of Sierra Leone's girls are married by the time they are 18. Even with more access to education, young girls continue to be forced into marriage, in rural communities but also in the cities.
Poverty, cultural and religious norms, tradition and are all factors that contribute to this situation. As a result, teenage pregnancy is prevalent, but lack of lack of sexual education, knowledge, power or access to services to avoid an unintended pregnancy are other reasons why there are so many teenage pregnancies in Sierra Leone.
In the worst case, their pregnancy is a result of violence when they are forced to have sex or fall victim to rape. You all can agree with me that teenage pregnancy reduces a girl’s chances in life. Sometimes they stop or are being stopped from going to school or their chances to a full education are cut short.
Under the best of circumstances girls face barriers to move up in society, but teenage girls who become pregnant see their opportunities in life dramatically curtailed. Very often they are at increased risk of child marriage, HIV infections and domestic violence as teenage pregnancy has immediate and long-term impacts on health, education and their economic status.
Maternal mortality in Sierra Leone is amongst the highest in the world and is directly linked to teenage pregnancy. Unsafe abortions, complications during childbirth and premature birth are all contributing factors. The issue of adolescent fertility is important because it is associated with morbidity and mortality for both mother and child.
When a girl becomes pregnant her chances that she will have a miscarriage or that the she will pay the price for this pregnancy with her own life, are considerable higher than for an adult woman. This alone should be a strong enough reason for us to redouble our efforts to change this narrative. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, today we celebrate the International Day of the Girl.
This is the day that, even more than other days, we advocate for the rights of young girls, and that we recognize how girlhood shapes the future of all women in Sierra Leone and globally. We are all aware that Girlhood is a time when young women should be nurturing their skills, pursuing their passions, and building the foundations of their futures.
For far too long in Sierra Leone girls are seen as a burden or a commodity. These mindsets prevent girls from fully participating politically, socially, and economically in their communities and in society at large. And the disadvantages pile on from an early age: in Sierra Leone, though enrolment has gone up, girls are less likely to attend school than their brothers.
It's a bad start. Many girls are not given a chance to equip themselves with the skills to become successful adults. Many girls are not given the tools to give them a chance to move up in life.
And girls who are lucky enough to receive a quality education, will all too often face blatant or hidden obstacles, in the laws or in the minds of people – including women – that will prove a burden to realise their professional ambitions or to become successful entrepreneurs.
Yet we know that societies and economies achieve far better results when they embrace, rather than marginalize, the power of women.
Today, as European Union we are stepping up our engagement to make this a reality. As EU we want every woman, every girl, is empowered to pursue her dreams.
Not only will many of today's girls become tomorrow's leaders; but we want every girl to enjoy the same chances in life as their brothers; we want every girl to have a chance to pursue her dreams no matter how small or big they are. I am therefore very pleased that as EU we can announce our support to Development Initiative Programme and its partner, Child Fund, with a grant amount of 531,000.00 EUR for a period of 24 months, which started in August 2019.
The proposal emerged as one of the selected projects from a call for proposals, successfully competing, in other words, with other good and relevant projects. 3 The project has set itself very ambitious targets; we want to altogether eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2021 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Is it possible? Can we will have to count on the extra-ordinary commitment of all who can make a difference.
The project will also empower women and girls to play a central role in their communities. For that will be equipped with transformational leadership training and new skills. But no one can sit still if we want to achieve and this is why DIP and Child Fund will also improve the capacity of MDAs and CSOs to sustainably manage, coordinate and monitor interventions for the reduction of SGBV, adolescent pregnancy and child marriage.
Overall, I commend the ambition of this project in addressing child marriage, teenage pregnancy and FGM/C. This is not an easy task and we will all need to work tirelessly to encourage transformation through interventions at all levels - structural, cultural and social interventions.
To all duty bearers who are here with us, let me reiterate that we all bear a reasonability to strengthen young people’s capacities – individually, collectively and institutionally. We have to strengthen the capacity of families and communities as they are key to reduce child marriage, teenage pregnancy and FGM/C.
It is our duty to project positive values and attitudes; to demonstrate through what we say and what we do that we are serious when we fight for gender equality at all levels. If we can end child marriage and dramatically reduce teenage pregnancy, Sierra Leone will be a better place.
We trust that Development Initiative Programme and its partner will make good use of the project resources to achieve the results that have been set out. We all have the responsibility to make sure that resources are used efficiently and bring about value for money in a transparent and accountable manner – at the service of the people and always in the interest of the vulnerable and marginalised women and girls who are at the centre of this programme.
It is now my pleasure to officially launch this project and on behalf of the EU, I wish you every success. Thank you.
1849 was the birth year of a great leader who would help to change the future for her people in Seirra Leone. Madame Yoko’s birth name was Soma and she was a member of the Mendeland Gbo Chiefdom of Sierra Leone. Soma would officially change her name to Yoko during her Sande or initiation ceremony within her culture; she would also become known as a one of the most graceful dancers amongst her people.
Tolu Jethro Bade is the man changing the concept of entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone by using photography. A Nigerian with Jamaican ancestry, he lives and works in Sierra Leone.
“When I started photography in 2017, most people didn’t respect photography or photographers as compared to lawyers and doctors. The craft wasn’t well branded as compared to the artistry and glorification it has in Nigeria for example. I had to change that perception. Today, having a camera and taking a picture is cliché. Even though it’s picking up pace slowly and it’s much admired, there’s still much effort needed to brand the profession. Photography is a very difficult ordeal which requires enormous amounts of creativity and discipline. It may be even more difficult than most professions in the world. When it comes to being a doctor, there are books you can read.
I started primary school at the age of 5 when my father retired from the Nigerian Civil Service and we returned home. While in Nigeria, I recall that I attended nursery school, but of course my memory of those days is quite hazy. I started school in Sierra Leone at the Christ Church primary school, then moved to the Cathedral Boys School and finally to the Tower Hill Municipal school where I took my Common Entrance Examination, now called National Primary School Examination (NPSE) and proceeded to the Prince of Wales Secondary School. I have no idea why my parents moved me and my younger brother from one primary school to another, but I suspect they were not quite satisfied with the education I was receiving.
Recognising Top-Ranking Individuals And Organisations Across The Global Banking Industry
The MD (right) Ade adebiyi picking up the awards from the organizers of the International Banker Awards in London.
The International Banker Awards 2019 are established to recognize top-ranking individuals and organizations setting new benchmarks for performance and pushing the boundaries within the financial industry.
Susu, also spelled Soussou, or Soso, people living in the southern coastal regions of Guinea and the north-western parts of Sierra Leone. They speak a dialect of Susu-Yalunka, a language belonging to the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo language.
For many years now we see that the prices of goods are tied to the rise and fall of the American dollar in the Sierra Leone Market structure. And dollar price even determines the prices of local commodities. The leone continues to depreciate against foreign currencies and this places a heavy burden on businesses in the country.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR SL MINING TO COMMENCE SHIPMENT OF MARAMPA BLUE
Freetown, 17th August 2019.The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources (MMMR) and the National Minerals Agency (NMA) note with grave concern several publications in the mainstream and social media, by SL Mining Limited (SL Mining), challenging the terms and conditions outlined in a letter of 13 August 2019 from the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources.
One thing that is distinct about the Bio led SLPP Government is the appointment of highly educated individuals and professionals to key positions whom the populace confidently believe have the wherewithal to deliver as per their mandates and responsibilities. The proposed NATCOM Chairman Mohamed Fouad Sheriff fits well into this category.
Mohamed Fouad Sheriff is a Sierra Leonean who holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors degree and a Master of Technology in Aquaculture with vast experience in Fisheries Planning, Fisheries Management and Project Management.
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (alias De Monk) is the outgoing National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists; Secretary General of the charity All ‘Works’ of Life development association, and President of Development and Economic Journalists Association-Sierra Leone.
Nasralla is a professional Journalist and Sierra Leone’s foremost political cartoonist. He’s publisher of the famous satirical column called Ticha Lemp Lemp, which has now been registered as a newspaper with the Independent Media Commission and will soon hit the newsstands and online.
He is married to Margaret Yeama Nasralla (nee Kromah) with whom he has three children- Andre 12, Nefertiti 7 and Mikayla 2.
Emerging Explore, Obama Africa Leader During the one year in which I’ve served as Chief Innovation Officer for the Government of Sierra Leone, it has become clear to me that “expert consultants” and “technical assistants” (local and especially international experts) might be one major reason why institutions of African governments have remained stagnated.
In the last year, I have worked closely with several heads of international NGOs and granted audience to dozens of “technical experts” representing those organizations. Dozens of other independent consultants have also engaged with either myself directly or with members of my team. These consultants either come as part of an aid or loan package to the country or as independent agencies who have found a way to promise the government 'a how to solve its problems' for a stated fee.
Friends, partners, and distinguished guests, Good morning.
I bring you warm greetings from the people of Sierra Leone. We are most pleased to be here with you, our international partners, representatives of potential investors and financial institutions, new friends, and our oldest friends, the representatives of the British government.
With British teams as the sole contestants for and winners of The Champions League and the Europa Cup, who says the UK is not a safe bet?
I was deceived by my parents that Sierra Leone is a land of milk and honey. I am over 30 years’ now, and I am yet to taste the sweetness of the milk and honey.
Why did my parents lie to me?
In this country, you work hard but earn so little and you’ll have no choice but to continue to work harder, look all stressed out and look older before your age. To me, that is the true paradox of a country describes as a country with milk and honey.