By Ragan M. Conteh
Sierra Leone has taken over the Chairmanship of the ECOWAS Board of Governors at the just-concluded 17th Annual Meeting of the Board of the ECOWAS Bank For Investment and Development (EBID).
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, will steer the ship of the Board of Governors as Chairman till 2020.
The Vice President, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh who officially opened the conference, extended on behalf of the President and the People of Sierra Leone his appreciation to EBID for the continuous financial and technical support towards improving the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
The Vice President informed the meeting that government has formulated one of the most ambitious projects ever in the history of the country which, according to him, forms the economic and social blueprint for Sierra Leone’s development trajectory-The Medium Term National Development Plan 2019-2023.
The plan, according to the Vice President, will assiduously address inclusive growth and poverty reduction, noting that this is at the front of the agenda.
Human Capital Development, he espoused, has been identified as the driver of the country’s economic transformation through which the country expects to deliver on poverty reduction, inclusive growth and social protection.
VP Jalloh urged the ECOWAS Bank to support the growth potential of Sierra Leone, adding that he is confident that ECOWAS will put the interest and aspiration of the ECOWAS region first by continuing to push for greater result, more development and better quality of life for the people of the region.
The newly-elected Chairman, Board of Governors of ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), who also doubles as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, expressed thanks and appreciation to the Board for considering Sierra Leone and to bestow the responsibility to him as Chair of EBID.
He disclosed to his colleagues that Sierra Leone is gradually recovering from the aftermath of the twin shock of Ebola and slump in Iron Ore prices in 2014 and 2015.
Economic growth, the new ECOWAS Board Chairman disclosed, had slowed down by 6.3 percent and 3.8 percent in 2017 and remained subdued at 3.5 percent in 2018 due mainly to the closure of iron ore mining operations.
He further revealed that the successful implementation of the country’s National Development Plan 2019-2023 requires harnessing opportunities within and outside the region.
Government, he emphasized, is a strong advocate of regional economic integration and that trade integration provides opportunities to access new markets, boost productivity, innovation, employment and growth.
He pointed out that at a time when the global economic outlook is clouded with uncertainties, regional development finance institutions like the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) have a pivotal role to play, not only in providing counter-cyclical financing but also in providing timely and targeted interventions in sectors critical for the inclusive and sustainable growth of the region.
Outgoing President of ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Bashir .M. Ifo, stated that the vision of the Bank is to be the leading regional investment and development financial institution in West Africa.
This, he noted, is an effective instrument for poverty reduction, wealth creation and job promotion for the well-being of the people of the region.
He outlined the key objectives of the Bank which includes contributing to attaining the objectives of the community by supporting infrastructure projects relating to regional integration or any other development projects in the public and private sectors.
By Ragan M. Conteh