Showing posts from 2018

Sierra Leone's masses don't have to die young

Another year. Another year-end list.  It should come as no surprise Sierra Leone is poor.

The "25 Poorest Countries in the World" list, published Wednesday, Nov. 7, ranked the West African nation at No. 8, with GDP estimated at $11.53 billion in 2017, placing 151 out of 185 countries.

As well as GDP from the Monetary Fund, writers at 24/7 Wall Street included life expectancy, using data from the World Bank.

Although Sierra Leone's population continues to grow, rising to 7.41 million in 2017,  life expectancy at birth in 2016 was only 51.8 years.

That's a notable change.

In 2011, a "World's Poorest" list ranking Niger, Chad, Liberia, Burkina Faso, CAF, Guinea, and Sierra Leone said:

Life expectancy in developing countries had increased from 59 years in 1970 to 70 years in 2010, according to the UN's 2011 Human Development Report. 
Earlier in 2018, Business Insider ranked where people live on less than $1,000 per year. The article titled "The 28 p…

Massah Kaikai has been missing since August 2018, no new leads

Stephen Douglas, a Canadian journalist, photographer, author, and media development specialist is leading an online campaign to find Massah Kaikai, who went missing sometime between August 4 and 8, 2018.

According to Douglas's blog, one suspect, Ibrahim Mansaray, Massah’s driver, is currently in custody and has been questioned by the Inspector General of Police and the Head of CID.

The suspect has provided very little information as to Massah’s disappearance but was in possession of Massah’s iPhone when he was arrested.

Mansaray reportedly looted Massah’s apartment of furniture, clothing and kitchen items before returning the keys to the landlords. The apartment was paid for until the end of December 2018.

After 45 days, the Cyber Crime Unit of CID finally retrieved scant information from Massah’s phone but it has not proved useful in tracking Massah’s movements or whereabouts.

The legal team at Orange, the telecom provider, will not comment and have not been helpful in providing …

'25 Years of Peacekeeping in Mano River Basin'

Featuring the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers who dedicated their lives to covering conflict zones and played an important role in bringing the Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003) to an end.  ON VIEW: 26 Oct - 16 Dec 2018

Bronx Documentary Center--St Mary’s Annex, 364 E. 151st Street, Bronx Free Entrance
Location: Bronx Documentary Center--St Mary’s Annex, 364 E. 151st Street, Bronx25 years of peacekeeping in Mano River Basin For inquiries about the exhibition, please contact Xia Zhang (

Moves and Changes in Sierra Leone's Corridors of Power

Soon after Ernest Bai Koroma was inaugurated in 2007, there was a huge outcry over the number of political appointees asked to step down. A decade on a similar crisis is brewing, but nobody seems to know the rules governing political appointees in Sierra Leone.

On April 12th, Julius Maada Bio was declared the winner of the 2018 presidential elections. Five months on, President Bio has made over a hundred political appointments including ministers, deputy ministers, high commissioners and ambassadors, and heads of state-owned enterprises. He has also appointed technocrats, non-elected technical experts for science and technology.

Going by the precedent set since independence, Bio has the power to hire and fire heads and deputies of all Sierra Leone's Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as well as public boards.

These include the Ports Authority, Maritime Administration, Roads Authority, State Lottery, Housing Corporation, National Social Security Insurance Trust, Revenue …

African Leaders highlight democratic, economic progress at United Nations General Assembly

African leaders underscored their countries’ efforts towards sustainable development at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. UNGA opened on September 18. The first day of the high-level General Debate was Tuesday, September 25, and is scheduled to last for nine working days.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, Julius Maada Bio president of Sierra Leone, said his country’s commitment to the United Nations Charter and the building of a more secure world resonates with the theme of this year’s General Assembly debate.  
“Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies.”

Sierra Leone recently demonstrated its commitment to democratic governance with yet another peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent political party to the opposition, he said, thanking the international community for facilitating and monitoring the electoral process.

Since the General Assembly’s 2005 pledge to strengthen the U…

Sierra Leone's new political and tech leaders make their case at second annual ‘Goalkeepers’ Event

In 2015, one hundred and ninety-three countries at the United Nations agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030.  Guided by these goals, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted the first annual ‘Goalkeepers’ event last September to help speed progress toward the global goals.

Moinina David Sengeh, now chief innovation officer for the government of Sierra Leone, was one of the 'goalkeepers' who joined co-chairs Bill and Melinda Gates at the inaugural Goalkeepers event in 2017.

This week, Sengeh hosted a one-hour segment at the second annual Goalkeepers Event hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates.

Goalkeepers are continuing the "audacious mission of accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals," Sengeh said. 

In his opening remarks, Gates spoke about what the magic of software could do to change things and make the world better. He also said poverty isn't inevitable.

Since 1990, millions of people have overcome poverty. There has been an &…

How the Civil Service could change Sierra Leone by 2025

By 2007 many Sierra Leoneans were disillusioned with the two-term Ahmad Tejan Kabbah administration and felt that the president had failed to deliver on post-war development promises.

The parliamentary and presidential elections produced a transfer of power from the Sierra Leone People’s Party to a coalition of the All People’s Congress (APC) and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party. The APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma headed the new government.
The civil service by the quality of its knowledge and experience of public affairs supports elected government in devising effective state policies and has a responsibility to implement these policies for the nation’s well-being.
In which light, the Sierra Leone Civil Service played various roles in the 2007 transition with varying degrees of success.
During the 2007 transition, critical gaps existed, particularly in the middle, professional and senior management cadres. There were only 995 civil servants in mid-level professional and…

The Latest on Petrol Prices in Sierra Leone

Kimberly Amadeo, president of World Money Watch, thinks oil price changes take six weeks to work their way through the distribution system. In Amadeo's "How Crude Oil Prices Affect Gas Prices" she talks about volatile oil and gas prices in the United States since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Five thousand miles away, a reporter looks at the "causes of price swings" in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. 

In 2016, a fuel price increase saw the pump price for a gallon of gasoline and diesel shoot up from Le 3,750 to Le 6, 000 per liter (the equivalent of about 67 cents to $1.68), which caused the prices of all other goods and services in Sierra Leone to go up.

Defending the increase in 2016, Abdulai Bayraytay, a former presidential spokesman, said removing the fuel subsidy was necessary to address the loss of revenue caused by the Ebola crisis and the fall in the price of iron ore, Sierra Leone's principal export.

The Ernest Koroma government (2…

Opinions: 2 Weeks on Freetown's Streets

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -The release of the Governance Transition Team (GTT) coincided with the arrest of former Vice President Victor Foh and former minister of mines and mineral resources Minkailu Mansaray---two events that set off some of the most heated debate since the final results of Sierra Leone's 2018 presidential election were announced.

As the verbal confrontation raged between sympathizers of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC), Sierra Leonean arguments spilled over to rising prices during the first one hundred days of President Julius Maada Bio.

Two weeks ago, Sewa News took to the streets of the capital to undertake a series of interviews. The interviewees cover the spectrum in age, political affiliation, ethnicity, and region.

'Corruption worse than Ebola'

SLPP voter Gabriel Ansumana said the GTT Report focuses on corruption, which is the root cause of Sierra Leone’s decades’ long underdevelopment. The GTT’s purpose he s…

Sierra Leone's asset recovery tsar denies unfair advantage in timber export trade

After a cross-country helicopter flyover, former president Ernest Koroma told officials at a 2008 opening ceremony for customs and border officials that he noticed a huge swathe of Sierra Leone’s forest had disappeared.

During the 2018 presidential campaign, Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) candidate Julius Maada Bio said that there was no accountability in the country’s timber trade. Immediately after he assumed power on April 4th, President Bio issued an executive order suspending the export of timber logs.

Since the resumption of timber exports took effect a few weeks ago, information reaching Sewa News indicates that a major stakeholder is Foday Rado Yokie, a former Member of Parliament who President Bio appointed to head a taskforce responsible for recovering government vehicles.

Yokie, who represented a constituency in Bo district, Sierra Leone's second largest city, is a principal partner in Spring Wood & Furniture Company, the firm given the concession to overse…

Sierra Leone’s Unregulated Export Timber Trade

Sierra Leone’s rapidly disappearing tropical forests are home to soft and hardwood, including herbs and plants and many common and exotic flora and fauna.

Significantly, most biodiversity hot spots in Sierra Leone are contained in what is supposed to be protected areas: forest reserves; community forests, national parks; game sanctuaries and other proposed protected areas.

Alarmingly, because of lax government and community controls, these areas are being devastated at a rapid pace by widespread illegal logging.

Unknown to the majority of its citizens, Sierra Leone has for decades exported timber that provides material for logs, panels, boards, doors, windows, furniture, decking, plywood, sawn timber, planed wood and timber, laminated wood, flooring, packing and pallet wood, and soft and hardwood veneers.

 With Sierra Leone’s forests and woodlands being a significant source of construction wood, timber and furniture, Chinese timber merchants have increasingly targeted the country fo…

Freetown's Mayor given Key to City's Heart after the attack

Freetown loves her mayor and there's no doubt she loves the hometown that has elected her to build a better city. On Friday evening, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr announced on Facebook that she's "back on her feet," buoyed by the "support and good wishes from Freetonians, family, and friends."

In the photo are Umaru Koroma, national secretary general of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) (left) and the newly-appointed Minister of Political and Public Affairs Foday Yumkella, brother of the 2018 National Grand Coalition presidential nominee, Kandeh Yumkella.

Aki-Sawyerr, who was verbally and physically assaulted outside SLPP's headquarters this week, also said on her Facebook page that witnesses have identified the suspect and the information has been passed on to the police.

Responding to the global outrage one day after the attack, the national secretariat of the SLPP issued a statement condemning the assault on the "Mayor of the City of Freeto…

New mayor of Sierra Leone's capital city attacked

Freetown's new mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, said in a statement posted on Facebook Thursday that she  was "verbally and physically assaulted yesterday by a few people who perhaps do not understand that I am the Mayor of all Freetonians and not some Freetonians."

Aki-Sawyerr, seen in the above photo with Dr. Samura Kamara, the All People's Congress (APC) 2018 presidential nominee,  condemned all acts of violence. The mayor reportedly returned to work Thursday.

Police have not released comments on the attack, but the mayor thanked the internal affairs ministry for their "support and interventions," adding she was "certain that necessary steps will be taken to ensure my personal safety and that of all Freetonians." 

Read the full statement below:

Dear Freetonians,
I would like to once again thank God and thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Mayor of Freetown. I am passionate about our city and committed to working with the central gov…

Black British Musician and Sierra Leonean Legend Mamadi Kamara Has Died

Black British drummer Mamadi Kamara has died, according to reports on social media from the city's Sierra Leonean community. The cause of death is unknown.

Born in Sierra Leone, the artist was active through the 70's and 2000s, notable for his drumming and percussion days with Super Combo, one of the first local bands to gain international success.

Residing in the United Kingdom since the 1970s, Mamadi has been in demand among musical groups of all styles because of his distinctive percussive voice, which ranges from high-energy rhythmic drama to free-flowing conceptual artistry.

Constantly extending his horizons, he has emerged as one of the most influential percussionists on the British/African jazz scene, working with artists such as Louis Moholo and Lester Bowie, Mervyn Africa, Harry Beckett, Andy Hamilton, Cameroon Pierre, Courtney Pine and Andy Sheppard. He also played and recorded with African, reggae, soul and R&B bands. 

Mr. Kamara was reportedly 70 years old.

State Opening of Parliament, read the full text of President Julius Maada Bio's speech


Let me start by thanking the people of this great country for giving me the opportunity to address this honourable House for the first time as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. My victory is not only for myself or the Sierra Leone People's Party, but also for the people of this great nation. This historic victory demonstrates the advancement that the people of Sierra Leone has made in consolidating our nascent democracy.
I am here this morning to translate my campaign promises as articulated in the New Direction People's Manifesto into policy actions. The underlying principles of the New Direction are Disciplined Leadership, Integrity, Efficiency, Professionalism, and Delivery. I am making thisaddress against the backdrop of the worse economic situation that this country ha…