Tourism can be a powerful tool for economic development in least developed countries. Sierra Leone’s tourism sector was almost completely destroyed by the war. However an unintended result of this provides Sierra Leone with unique opportunities to use innovative approaches for redevelopment of the tourism sector. With sustained peace, tourism presents encouraging opportunities for support services sector and providing job opportunities for the semi skilled.
The mining sector continues to be the largest foreign exchange earner— a major contributor to GDP and providing jobs for thousands of the population. This sector was severely affected by the war with key mining installations forced to shut down and legal artisanal mining halted. Between 2002 and 2007, the SLPP government made considerable efforts to reactivate this sector. Total exports of diamonds increased; large-scale kimberlite diamond mining operations resumed; Sierra Rutile re-opened in 2004 and currently employs over 1000; mining of bauxite in Mokanji started with over 600 currently employed. In all, over 38,000 are now employed in the sector.
An adequate and reliable physical infrastructure is essential for social and economic development. For Sierra Leone, three decades of neglect, exacerbated by a devastating ten year war, have left the economy deprived of the most basic of infrastructure services. Unless issues of coverage, reliability and cost of services are urgently and seriously addressed, infrastructure will continue to post severe barriers to sustainable economic growth. Adequate energy supply is absolutely necessary if Sierra Leone is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the objectives of the pro-poor growth strategy (2008-2012). The SLPP Government will put the comprehensive development of Sierra Leone’s energy resources at the core of the country’s sustainable development agenda. The energy sector is at present within the purview of various MDAs: Energy and Power for Electricity, Agriculture for fuel wood and charcoal, Trade and Industry for Petroleum products and the Petroleum Resources Unit for Petroleum exploration. The government has made efforts over the years to coordinate the work of these MDAs in addressing Sierra Leone’s energy needs and will intensify institutional changes to achieve these goals.
Transportation services were severely disrupted by the war. Nevertheless, the government has made considerable strides to redress the situation and in many instances has improved upon the situation that existed before the conflict. Access to land is an important consideration for the citizenry of any country. Although Sierra Leone’s land mass is fairly large for its population, rapid urbanisation has placed severe constraints on land in urban areas. Wasteful land use practices have also placed constraints on the use of land for alternative purposes. With most of the rural population engaged in subsistence agriculture using traditional methods of allowing the land to fallow, the increasing population imposes constraints to farming in some areas. There is need for more careful planning of land, especially in urban areas, where houses and other infrastructural facilities need to be incorporated into limited spaces. Housing needs are acute and have been exacerbated by damages occasioned by the war. Administratively, the Ministry of Lands and Country Planning is responsible for lands and country planning issues and housing is now within the purview of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Technical Maintenance.
As we seek a mandate for the next five years we call upon all Sierra Leoneans to work hard and to commit to a future where poverty becomes history for all of us.