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Showing posts from 2020

Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority and the prescient remark about Savage Street Bridge

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Two years ago, an executive director at Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority told everybody who would listen that the Savage Street Bridge was a disaster waiting to happen. “I would like to fix it if I had the mandate,” he reportedly told officials from the Ministry of Finance at public budget hearings held in Freetown.

A prescient remark, given that Savage Street Bridge collapsed today. 

This May,  David Panda Noah, described as—one of the brains behind the SLPP election team, which engineered access to the electoral commission’s election database in 2018—took office as Sierra Leone's Minister of Internal Affairs.
No doubt about it, Noah has his work cut out at internal affairs.  You can't help but wonder what he could have done differently.
Or what he would say if Awoko reached out for comment. (Savage Street Bridge is a disaster waiting to happen, says SLRSA Boss, by Zainab Iyamide Joaque)

Press release from the Sierra Leone Road Safety AuthorityThe board and management of the Sie…

Who decides for Sierra Leone? The ICSID, ICC, or the People of Lunsar?

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In case you missed it, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal has announced that the ICSID, a World Bank Group, has refused to restrain the west African country from pursuing criminal proceedings against several employees of the claimant’s local subsidiary.

According to Global Arbitration Review, a business law website, the subsidiary had "been accused of inciting a deadly riot before the case was dropped without charge."In October 2019, a subsidiary of a London-based commodity trader applied to a court in the United States of America to confirm an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) emergency arbitrator order that directedSierra Leone to lift measures prohibiting the export of high-grade iron ore – a dispute that has also given rise to the threat of an ICSID claim.

ICC is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries. According to their website, their "mission is to make business work…

IMF African Department backs Freetown mayor, responds to Property Tax Reform

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The International Monetary Fund's African Department has called Freetown's City Council (FCC) Property Tax Reform "good reform" in a statement released this weekend. According to Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the rate for 80% of residents in Freetown, #SierraLeone, is still less than 500,000 Leones ($52) per year. Or 42,000 Leones ($4.50) per month, so the FCC can deliver services they couldn’t deliver before.

The African Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) oversees the IMF’s operations and engagement with 45 countries across Africa, spanning the three main pillars of IMF work—policy advice, lending operations, and technical assistance. Their responsibilities also include building strategic partnerships and dialogue with senior policymakers and institutions across the region.

"We fully support the reform that appears to be in line with the best regional practice," they said of the Freetown City Council's Property Tax Reform. "While the…

TAKE ACTION to #FreeSheikhUmarrKamarah in Sierra Leone

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Dr. Sheikh Umarr Kamarah is an American citizen of Sierra Leonean descent who needs your support. He has been unfairly accused of and detained for crimes in Sierra Leone that he did not commit. Dr. Kamarah’s family, friends, and broad community demand his immediate release. He is scheduled to return to the US with a repatriation flight on June 9 that he must be allowed to board. His arrest appears to be highly politically motivated though he is not a politician.

Dr. Kamarah cares deeply about his native country, his American home, and his family. He is a devoted husband, father, brother, and uncle. In the US, he is a linguistics professor at Virginia State University, but he currently works in community relations and development for SL Mining in Sierra Leone. When he found out he was wanted, he righteously turned himself in to police, but we are demanding all charges against Dr. Kamarah be dropped.

To support Dr. Kamarah, please call the following offices and assert that Dr. Kamarah mus…

'Sierra Leone should not be left to the whims of political combatants alone'

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“It’s very difficult to reflect this neglect through photography, In Sierra Leone, a prisoner is nobody, and a young prisoner is nothing.” ~ Fernando Moleres© Fernando Moleres

Since the resident coordinator of the United Nations in Sierra Leone released a statement condemning the violence in the post-war country,  President Julius Maada Bio has accused the main opposition party of orchestrating the violence while refusing to allow human rights sources to identify those who were killed by security forces on April 29, or addressing the arbitrary arrest of Sylvia Blyden and others. Amnesty International Sierra Leone has called for their release. 

Reaction to the president's speech has been swift.
“It is shocking, the claims the president is making,” said party spokesman Sidi Yayah Tunis.
Representatives of the Christian community comprising the Catholic Mission, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Sierra Lon…

U.N. watchdog in Sierra Leone condemns violence and extrajudicial killings in Freetown

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The resident coordinator of the United Nations in Sierra Leone has released a statement condemning the recent violence in Freetown. Brutal killings have sent shockwaves around the post-war nation, which marked its 59th Independence anniversary on April 27 as COVID-19 infections spike.  Read the full text below:

Freetown, 1 May 2020. The United Nations in Sierra Leone expresses serious concern over the violent incidents, which occurred on 29 April 2020 in the Central Correctional Facility at Pademba Road in Freetown. The United Nations regrets the resultant loss of life, injury and damage to property, and further condemns all forms of violence. The United Nations extends its sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the injured speedy recovery.
The United Nations in Sierra Leone recalls the commitment made by the Government of Sierra Leone, under international conventions and treaties, including the Nelson Mandela Rules, to protect and respect the human rights of all perso…

Ethnicity, Development, and Democracy on Independence Day

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A month before Sierra Leone marked 59 years of independence on April 27, the Smallholder Commercialization Program or SCP quietly closed its doors on March 31. According to the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program website, the program with a $50 million price tag was a success.

The project reached 377,412 poor Sierra Leoneans, of whom about 47 percent are women. All told, the SCP is expected to benefit a total of 500,000 people, one-half of them women.

The project improved drainage services on 1,150 hectares for a total of 5,256 water users and aims to reduce the supply-demand gap in rice as well increase incomes for 100,000 farm households.

The SCP also rehabilitated 6,300 hectares of tree crops: 2,800 hectares of cocoa, 3,000 hectares of new oil palm, and 500 hectares of cashew. The project is piloting climate change technologies, such as rainwater harvesting.

In addition, the project established financial services associations and community banks resulting in 34,025 cl…

Abou Whyte, one of Sierra Leone's greatest folk music artists, dies at 76

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Abou Whyte, popular folk artist and lead vocalist for Muyei Power, died in New Jersey, USA, this week from complications related to the coronavirus disease. He was 76 years old. According to AYV Newspaper, the veteran Sierra Leonean musician has been laid to rest.

Whyte was born in the Fourah Bay community in Freetown, said VertexMedia SL, who shared one the last images of the singer on stage. Click here to watch a biopic of the late singer.

Whyte belongs to the generation of big bands like Afro National, Sabanoh 75, and Super Combo. He is fondly remembered for songs like 'Good Morning Sierra Leone,' 'Jakitomboi,' 'Yamba Sowe,' and 'Wali Bena'

The musician's career reportedly started with the Merry-Go Jazz Band in 1964, after which he joined the Orchestra Muyei Power Dance Band, formed by music promoter Abu Sillah in 1971.
In February 2018, Soundway Records, founded by label owner Miles Cleret, posted a full album stream of "Muyei Power - Sierra …

While the world is busy getting through the pandemic, this happened in Freetown

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The world is seeing unprecedented events during the global pandemic, as the hunt for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines continues. While Sierra Leone, which was adversely affected by the Ebola epidemic in 2014, now struggles to protect people and prevent the coronavirus from spreading, there's fear and anxiety regarding personal security. Read today's blog written by Tracey Marke.
We were told that this new direction with the lands ministry would be a force for good— make things better. But instead, it appears that the lands ministry is a law unto themselves, seizing and molesting, disadvantaging and dispossessing and downright stealing lands from communities who have legal title to private land.


Time and time again we have watched as people with legal long-held title have been targeted, bullied and harassed and yet we have seen no change or halt to the lands department's modus operandi of pouncing on people’s legally held land.  In November I became one such a target. 

I decid…

Sunday, March 8, 2020 | International Women's Day

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On Women's Day, enjoy this archive photo of Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura and a group of women as you celebrate the day. Currently, Zainab is the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi. She was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in December 2018.

Bangura became a social activist when Sierra Leone was ruled by a military junta. She began with consciousness-raising efforts among urban market women, reminding her followers that her own mother was a market woman.

In 2007, Bangura became Sierra Leone's foreign minister. She was the second woman to serve in that post, following Shirley Gbujama who held that position from 1996 to 1997. She served as Minister of Health and Sanitation from 2010 to 2012.

The daughter of an imam, Zainab Hawa Bangura was born "Zainab Hawa Sesay" in Yonibana, Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of British Sierra Leone. She attended secondary school on a scholarship that was awarded to her by t…

Freetown's Historic Cotton Tree Goes Up in Flames

One shocked witness filmed the burning Cotton Tree on their mobile phones Thursday evening and uploaded to WhatsApp. A famous landmark in the city center, the tree is Freetown's historic symbol.

Nobody is sure how old the tree is, but it is known to have existed in 1787 when the first European settlers arrived. According to some sources, the Cotton Tree is 500 years old.

500-year-old tree catches fire in Freetown

One shocked witness filmed the burning Cotton Tree on their mobile phones Thursday evening and uploaded to WhatsApp. A famous landmark in the city center, the tree is Freetown's historic symbol.

Nobody is sure how old the tree is, but it is known to have existed in 1787 when the first European settlers arrived. According to some sources, the Cotton Tree is 500 years old. 

Weird News: Making Tea from Plastics

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There is white tea, black tea, green tea, red tea—all kinds of herbal teas. And then there's a tea made from boiling disposable diapers. Yup. You read that right.

Some people in Freetown, Sierra Leone are boiling nappies to make tea. The trend has raised alarm bells and prompted one Sierra Leonean chemist to put out a press release on WhatsApp to warn people about the dangers.  

The press release below is from Sierra Leonean chemist Alhaji S.K Bangura.

Dangers Surrounding the boiling of Pampers for the making of Tea*

A diaper is underwear that allows the wearer (mostly children) to urinate or defecate without the use of a toilet, by absorbing or containing waste products to prevent the soiling of the outer clothing or the external environment. When the diaper becomes wet they require changing.

However, for the diaper to performs its role, some chemicals such as Volatile Organic Compounds VOC (Toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and dipentene) are added. Other added chemicals are sodium …

What's the direction of the Sierra Leone mining industry?

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Mining Review Africa,  a magazine platform in the African mining industry, said Monday that Sierra Leone's Minister of Mineral Resources, Foday Rado Yokie, is confirmed to attend the Investing in African Mining Indaba.

Billed as the world's largest mining investment event, the show will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, February 3-6, 2020.

Mr. Yokie was appointed Sierra Leone Minister of Mines on May 9, 2019, and is popular among his supporters for wearing expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewelry or bling.

Sierra Leone has large reserves of diamonds, iron ore and bauxite. The country possesses one of the largest rutile reserves in the world. Whilst mining contributes about 20% to the national GDP, it is said to account for around three-quarters of the country’s exports.

In 2019, Sierra Leone's GNI per capita was $1,348. Gross national income or GNI is the total income received by the country, during an accounting year. GDP is used as an indicator of a country'…

The 5 Fastest Growing Economies In Africa

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Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Burkina Faso are among the fastest-growing economies in Africa for 2020. According to Quartz Africa's Yinka Adeogoke,  African countries are set to win this year. Using data from the IMF and the World Bank, Adegoke says top performers include Rwanda (8.1%), Cote d'Ivoire (7.3%), Ethiopia (7.2%), Senegal (6.8%), and Benin (6.7%).

Adegoke adds that the average economic growth forecasts until 2024 predict Senegal, Rwanda, Niger, Uganda, and Mozambique as the five fastest-growing over that period.
"Brookings analysts say there's a $16 billion opportunity if African countries fully implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement," Adegoke said. 
 Source "African economies will outperform global growth in 2020"
In Sierra Leone, the 2019 African Economic Outlook (AEO) report said the current account deficit worsened to an estimated 16.9% of GDP in 2018 from 13% in 2017, due to increased imports of consumption goods and wea…

West Africa's New Currency in 2020: 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'

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When the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) launches the Eco in 2020, will anything change but the name?  What will it mean for the 'Financial Community of Africa'?

More than 75 years ago, a legendary French military officer turned politician created West Africa’s CFA franc. CFA stands for the “Communaute Financiere Africaine” (African Financial Community).

In 2017, Kemi Seba, a financial activist from Benin burnt a 5,000 CFA banknote (around 7.6 euros or $9.10) in Dakar, the headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).

The franc of the African financial community, or CFA Franc, is issued by BCEAO. The West African Monetary Union (WAMU) currently comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte-d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

Seba's actions reignited an old debate over the region's currency, DW said. After he was acquitted in court, Seba was reportedly expelled by the Senegalese government and is now living in France.