Sierra Leone was rated as the fastest growing economy in the world by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at least on paper as the people of Sierra Leone had nothing to show for it.
We were on an upward trajectory economically when the Ebola came and slowed down our economic progress.
This is so because the Sierra Leone economy before the Ebola Outbreak heavily relied on the mining industry in the country especially the mining boom which saw hundreds of mining companies, jostling for iron ore in the country while others focused on Agriculture and Diamond.
The African Minerals Limited, the London Mining, Octea Mining Company, Sierra Rutile, Addax and a host of others contributed to the economic growth of Sierra Leone.
Most of the gains we made as a nation were taken aback as a result of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. Most of the mining companies came to an abrupt halt as some of them went into administration while others were in total liquidation with no money to bail them out of the financial fiasco.
This affected revenue generation and employment in the country because the National Revenue Authority was unable to get enough money from these companies as tax and most of the young people who had been employed were laid off as there was no money to pay them.
There are some companies that are still unable to pay most of their workers and contractors because of lack of money.
Also some of the developmental projects that the Government had undertaken were stopped because the Government had to refocus its attention on ending the deadly Ebola scourge.
Before the Ebola, the whole country was a ‘works yard’ if I can borrow the phrase of the former Minister of Information, IB Kargbo as there were road constructions in almost everywhere in the country and most of them were funded by the Government.
Despite all this misfortune that Sierra Leone has suffered economically the World Bank organised the spring meeting in which millions of dollars were pledged for Sierra Leone to get back on her toes economically.
These pledges that were made are geared towards revamping the country’s economy by rebuilding the health sector, rebranding the country to gain investors’ confidence, restructuring the educational sector as well as the agricultural sector.
Thus the Government of Sierra Leone is now faced with this daunting but possible task of getting Sierra Leone back on track economically by focusing on the post Ebola Plans that was presented at the World Bank Spring Meeting.
We know that the Government has ambitious political projects that they want to complete before the next elections but that should not be at the extent of the future of the country.
This is the reason the World Bank has advised the Government of Sierra Leone not to continue with the ambitious airport project rather they should focus on getting the economic back on track.
The World Bank is not telling the Government of Sierra Leone what and what not to do rather they are looking at the economic viability of the project at this time when the country is just coming from the Ebola which has affected the economic growth severely.
Despite the advice of World Bank, the Government of Sierra Leone wants to go ahead with the ambitious Mamamah Airport Project at all cost and not even looking at the economic viability of the project at this time.
The President went to the Government of China at the 70 Anniversary of the United Nations where he discussed extensively with the President of China to fund the project on a long term loan.
The money that Chinese will be putting on an airport project of a country that is not even getting up to five flights a day is so huge and it is not economically viable at this time.
It could be recalled that Sierra Leone economy began to plummet when President Siaka Stevens because of his own ego decided to host the then Organisation of African Union (OAU) now the African Union Summit when the country was not economically ripe for it.
Despite advices from the Bank Governor, Samuel Bangura that Sierra Leone was not ripe for such a project, the Government went ahead with the hosting of African Heads of State at a very huge cost.
This decision of then APC Government only benefitted few people while the country went into an economic meltdown because of the ambition of one man.
Therefore it is my belief that the Government of Sierra Leone should heed to the advice of the World Bank and pay attention on getting the economy back on track rather than focusing on an ambitious airport project.