By Jane B. Mansaray……………………………
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday launched the first Sierra Leone Development Finance Forum jointly organized by the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for deliberation on priority project programmes in relation to funding of US$2.5 billion Private Sector Window of the World Bank Group whose aim is to mobilize private capital and scale up private sector investment.
In his keynote address at the Bintumani International Conference Centre at Aberdeen in Freetown on the theme “Unlocking Private Investment In Sierra Leone”, President Koroma welcomed the World Bank initiative and described the ceremony as unique and assured that the country is ready to scale up private sector growth.
He said the vision of the World Bank Group in promoting private sector growth is in place as it is in line with his government’s Agenda for Prosperity.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma urged participants to deliberate on the success and challenges of the private sector in Sierra Leone, as this he said would contribute greatly to the country’s economy and sustainable growth.
He said “Informed by the new private sector window by the World Bank Group, beginning in July 2017-this bold and much needed initiative will help the Bank, together with their partners to mobilize private capital and scale up private sector development”.
According to the World Bank Group Vice President for Development Finance, Mr Axel van Trotsenburg this is the first Development Finance Forum meeting that is held in Africa of which Sierra Leone happens to be hosted by the World Bank Group and Government of Sierra Leone, with the aim to discuss ideas, initiatives and partnerships that can spur private sector investment to unlock the potential of Sierra Leone’s economy.
At the end of the forum, Mr. Trotsenburg said participants are expected to identify constraints to developing a vibrant private sector and opportunities for attracting transformational investments that can make a positive impact on people’s lives.
The above funding project is said to last for the next three years in Africa and elsewhere as there is tremendous opportunity to significantly advance the development agenda from education to health to infrastructure and to proactively involve government and especially the private sector.
He encouraged the Government of Sierra Leone to take advantage of this unique package support which he said would help create jobs and new opportunities and make a difference in people’s lives.
The Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Madam Karin Fineklston said concerns about risk scarce public grant and concessional funds that can be used to mobilize private capital particularly in sectors like energy, tourism, fisheries and agribusiness where job creation opportunities are large.