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Sierra Leone’s Economy and Ebola Donations


Sierra Leone’s Economy and Ebola Donations

By Joe Moses……
Disease has no conscience; otherwise the Ebola Virus would not have chosen the impoverished nation of Sierra Leone for such gruesome pathological attacks that have resulted in several fatalities across a country that has been persistently groaning under the burdens of unemployment, underdevelopment, social malaise and a checkered economy.
The problems of Sierra Leone are not new; therefore it would amount to injustice if I singled out the APC regime for vilification on account of the nation’s perennial problems. The problems are so enormous that one blow from an epidemic, a belligerent neighbor, internal dissenters or business organizations will have far-reaching consequences on the nation by compounding the already existing socio-economic problems.
For several years Sierra Leone has been characterized by weak physical and social infrastructure, endemic poverty, inequalities in income distribution, illiteracy, instability and poor economic performance. A nation is a superstructure, built on an economic foundation; therefore I will base my analysis of the Ebola donations on the economic status of Sierra Leone. From 1986-2014 inflation in Sierra Leone has stood at 32.90%.
Taxes and other revenues account for 16% of GDP and Sierra Leone ranks 190th in the World’s tax and revenue performance. Sierra Leone’s public debt is about 37% of GDP, making it the 100th biggest debtor in the World. Our public debt stands at almost two billion US Dollars. Our exports are annually worth about one billion dollars but annual imports stand at about 1.6 billion US Dollars.
The foregoing data are indications that Sierra Leone is not prepared to take any blow or might just crumble under it if aid is not given. Since the Ebola outbreak, the Government has been justifiably pleading for assistance from within and without in order to tackle the epidemic. Over forty institutions/individuals have so far made donations towards tackling the epidemic, which now has a foothold in this country.
The biggest contributors have been commercial institutions and the Mining industry. The biggest donation so far has come from Sierra Rutile Limited – a Titanium Mining Company headed by a Sierra Leonean Chief Executive Officer, John Borno Sisay.
John Sisay is a young, outgoing technocrat that can be best described as a national phenomenon. He hails from Northern Sierra Leone, grew up in Eastern Sierra Leone, married a Western Area wife and has been working in Southern Sierra Leone since he returned home after his studies in the United Kingdom. Sisay is BA Hons. and Master of Business Administration. He was once a student Union leader in the United Kingdom and has done serious work to rescue and revive Sierra Rutile Limited.
Sisay joined SRL during the war years and worked very hard to stabilize it amidst internal turbulence and fluctuating market prices of Rutile. He did not give up in the face of those problems, which he successfully managed, using his managerial and human relations skills. An outgoing and practical entrepreneur, John Sisay knows the problems of his country and rightfully thinks that only a substantial financial contribution can begin to address the Ebola problem in Sierra Leone. The one billion Leones donated by a single company is clearly the biggest, result-oriented effort in the fight against Ebola.
It took a very long time before Mr. Sisay made a financial contribution of this magnitude on behalf of his company. This is a manifestation of right thinking. Something like a policy of differentiation in business management. While other companies were rushing to make donations in hundreds, just to make early headlines, Mr. Sisay made thorough assessment of the situation in Sierra Leone and donated one billion Leones.
A thorough assessment of Mr. Sisay’s action can justify his success at Sierra Rutile Limited in the face of all the problems that threatened to kill the mining operator in those turbulent times.
Sierra Leone still needs donations from patriotic and right-thinking people like John Sisay and social investors like Sierra Rutile Limited. The Ebola epidemic is spreading too fast, though it seems to be gyrating only in West Africa. Ebola is a foreign disease. It is not an ECOWAS citizen and has neither a VISA nor a residential permit; therefore it should be chased out of Sierra Leone in particular and West Africa in general.

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