Professor Lumumba joins Sierra Leone to take anti-corruption crusade to global level

For the first time since Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961, the country is now beginning to turn the corner in its fight against rampant corruption, which is estimated to be losing the government hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

In the last seven months, since winning presidential elections in March 2018, the SLPP government led by president Julius Maada Bio is doggedly fighting to end corruption in high places and change the culture of impunity, that has seen Sierra Leone reduced to a banana republic.

The previous government had canonised corruption and graft.

The Bio-led government’s disciplined approach to public finance management is aimed at tackling waste and closing leakages in public spending; and when coupled with the fight against corruption by the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission – Francis Ben Kaifala, there is hope of a better future for Sierra Leone.

Twenty-seven percent of women die every year during childbirth or simply trying to cope with pregnancy.

Two out of every five children under 5 years old, will not live to see their fifth birthday – all because of poverty and lack of proper healthcare.

On Saturday 8th December 2018, world renowned ‘good governance and anti-corruption crusader’ – Professor Lumumba, will be in Sierra Leone to take the fight against poor public sector governance and corruption to a global level.

The Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone will play host to the Kenyan Professor Lumumba as part of worldwide events to commemorate this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day.

Professor Lumumba will deliver a lecture at the Adjai Crowther Amphitheatre at Fourah Bay College, Freetown.

He will speak about “Retracing the `Athens of Africa’: The centrality of the fight against corruption in achieving President Julius Maada Bio’s vision of a reborn prosperous Sierra Leone”.

Thousands are expected to make their way to Fourah Bay College to hear Professor Lumumba speak.

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission – Francis Ben Kaifala, said: “The event will raise the profile of Sierra Leone’s efforts in the fight against corruption and close a very successful year on the war against corruption declared by the President.”

Our thanks to the Sierra Leone Telegraph for the above online news.


McKinsey shows Africa is the world’s next big growth market

A new book by McKinsey confirms that Africa is poised for economic acceleration, akin to the Asian boom. While other continents are seeing incremental growth, global companies that get in early and join the African champions shaping the right strategies, can sustain double-digit profit growth over the next few decades.

In ‘Africa’s Business Revolution: How to Succeed in the World’s Next Big Growth Market’ (Harvard Business Review Press), Acha Leke, Mutsa Chironga, and Georges Desvaux detail the research that McKinsey & Company has done and share insights into Africa’s future growth prospects.

The conclusions they draw are distilled from 3,000 McKinsey client engagements, in-depth proprietary research and interviews with 40 of Africa’s most prominent business and development leaders.

The authors reveal how companies can better understand the African market and seize the opportunities for building profitable, sustainable businesses.

Major trends indicate Africa is poised for explosive growth

Africa has a fast-growing, rapidly urbanizing population with big unmet needs. This means there is a trillion-dollar opportunity to industrialize Africa, to meet rising domestic demand and create a bridge-head in global export markets.

In addition, there has been a big push by governments and the private sector to close infrastructure gaps. There is a continued resource abundance in agriculture, mining, and oil and gas, with innovation and investment in these sectors unlocking new production on the continent.

The rapid adoption of mobile and digital technologies could leapfrog Africa past many obstacles to growth.

Leke and Desvaux, both Senior McKinsey Partners and Chironga, an executive at Nedbank, one of South Africa’s largest banking groups, say:

“With over 400 African companies earning annual revenues of US$1 billion or more, we can identify what works. The highly successful businesses are often African companies, but many are entrepreneurial firms with Western, Indian, or Chinese founders. The most consistently profitable businesses demonstrate a higher tolerance for risk, are eager to adapt their products, production and distribution for African consumers, and commit to investing and building their businesses for the long-term.”

African success stories

The book examines several examples of African businesses that have translated opportunities into enduring business value. For instance, it shows how Nigerian conglomerate, Dangote Industries, industrialised to serve regional markets through import substitution and improved margins through vertical integration.

South African retail giant, Shoprite, adapted its supply chain and distribution centres for local logistics. SABMiller created products for regional tastes and invested heavily in multiple markets and skills transfer.

Technology driven start-up, Kenya’s M-Kopa, is providing mobile money financed off-grid solar energy kits. The authors also study global companies which have succeeded in Africa for decades, like Coca-Cola, GE, and Total.

Four imperatives to achieve long-term sustainable growth

Leke, Chironga and Desvaux believe that building a successful business in Africa requires a long-term approach and four essential practices:

Mapping an Africa strategy – setting a clear aspiration, prioritising markets, defining how to achieve scale and relevance and creating an ecosystem to thrive.

Innovating business models – truly engaging with customers, creating products and services to fulfill unmet needs, getting lean to drive down costs and price points, and harnessing technology.

Build resilience for the long term – riding out short-term volatility, diversifying portfolios, integrating up and down the value chain, understanding local context and engaging with governments.

Unleashing talent – developing skills in frontline workers, creating robust talent development processes and harnessing the power of women’s advancement.

Acha Leke says:

“At the heart of these four imperatives is a commitment to doing well by doing good. We have had the privilege of meeting and working with many remarkable business leaders from around the world. What has struck us time and again is how many of them are driven by a deeper purpose.

They look closely at Africa’s high levels of poverty; its gaps in infrastructure, education and healthcare, and its governance problems. But they don’t just see barriers to business – they see human issues they feel responsible for solving. They show us that contributing to the social and economic development of the countries within which their thriving businesses operate creates value for both shareholders and stakeholders.”

Our thanks to the Sierra Leone Telegraph for the above online news.


IMF is optimistic about prospects for Sierra Leone’s economy

After months of uncertainty about discussions between the newly elected government in Sierra Leone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), today there is good news from the IMF about its latest review of the country’s economic performance.

An IMF team led by Brian Aitken visited Freetown from 18th of September 2018 to 2nd October 2018, to initiate discussions on a possible Extended Credit Facility arrangement that could be supported by the IMF.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Aitken issued the following statement:

“The economic environment remains challenging, with output growth still recovering from the recent loss in iron ore mining and reduced activity in the non-mining sectors.

Output growth is likely to remain below 4 percent this year, and inflation remains elevated at 18 percent, reflecting a combination of factors including food and fuel price developments and pass-through from modest exchange rate depreciation.

“At the same time, the corrective actions the authorities have taken in recent months to shore up public finances in response to the cash shortfall have led to an increase in revenue and helped arrest the rise in public spending arrears.

“This is expected to result in some improvement in the 2018 budget performance this year.

“Against this backdrop, the authorities’ policy focus is to safeguard macroeconomic stability and institute a package of structural reforms that place the country on a sustained path toward economic diversification and growth, employment creation, and improved social conditions, consistent with the objectives of the government’s medium-term plan, Education for Development.

“The IMF team welcomes the authorities’ efforts to further mobilize domestic revenue, improve expenditure management and control, address the outstanding stock of budget arrears, stabilize public debt and reduce it to sustainable levels, and prioritize public investment aimed at reducing social and infrastructure gaps.

“The Bank of Sierra Leone’s (BSL) objectives of bringing inflation to single digits, increasing foreign exchange reserves to boost resilience to economic shocks, and maintaining financial stability through enhanced bank regulation and supervision are essential for sustainable growth.

“We support efforts to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the use of public resources, while strengthening social protection for the most vulnerable.

“Reflecting the progress in this week’s discussions, the authorities and the mission reached a broad understanding on economic policies and reforms that could be supported by the IMF in the context of a new ECF arrangement.

“Discussions will continue in the coming weeks with a view to presenting the program request to the IMF Executive Board before the end of this year.”

The IMF team met with Vice President Jalloh, Finance Minister Jacob Saffa, Deputy Finance Minister Patricia Lavaley; BSL Deputy Governor Dr. Ibrahim Stevens, senior government and BSL officials, and development partners.

It is now expected that once negotiations between the IMF and the government are concluded by the end of this year, IMF funding could then be made available to support the government’s drive to diversify the economy, widen its taxation base and end its over-reliance on the volatile mining industry.

It is uncertain as to whether the IMF will resume its $240 million financing agreement signed in 2016 with the Koroma led government, which was suspended due to serious financial mismanagement and corruption.

But what is clear is that with the Bio led government’s drive to establish a new culture of public financial discipline and prudence, it is likely that a new Extended Credit Finance (ECF) agreement will be signed by both parties.

The government is making tough spending decisions, and is increasing its efforts to raise and collect taxation, which is then used to pay for the running of vital services.

Our thanks to the Sierra Leone Telegraph for the above online news.



Sierra Leone’s President at the United Nations:
‘Optimistic’ about country’s new direction as key reforms enacted

On Thursday, the newly-elected President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, told the United Nations, that “with a strong belief in a shared vision and a common destiny, Sierra Leoneans stand with the [international community] in meeting the world’s challenges.”

Acknowledging the role that multilateralism and sustainability play in the establishment of a democratic Sierra Leone, he told world leaders gathered for the General Assembly’s annual general debate that “we are a successful model of a stable democracy.”

Mr. Maada Bio said that with this role established, “we should now endeavor to demonstrate the political will to particularly redress the historical injustice done to the African continent.”

“Africa is the only region without representation in the permanent category of the Security Council,” he told the assembled leaders. Pointing out that 70 per cent of the 15-member Council’s resolutions affect some 1.2 billion Africans, he said “people simply want their voices to be fully represented [ in that body].”

Spotlighting the necessity of democracy, Mr. Maada Bio stated that “guided by both our specific situation and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our governance initiative and policy actions involve strengthening our democratic institutions, opening up democratic spaces, promoting democratic dialogues, and creating a more just and equal society. We see these as precursors for the sustainable growth of our economy and our development as a nation.”

By example, Mr. Maada Bio expressed Sierra Leone’s “commitment to building a more secure world, as espoused in the United Nations Charter, as well as, our commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and ongoing reform processes of the United Nations.”

Sierra Leone has undertaken reforms to increase healthcare, create resilient criminal justice institutions (in line with SDG 16), empower women, explore science, technology, and innovation, as well as “resolve mankind’s common challenges from trade to climate change.”

Our thanks to the Sierra Leone Telegraph for the above online news.


Why it’s exciting to be doing business in Africa
Jacques Vermeulen

There is always something new out of Africa, the ancient Greeks used to say.
Back then, the proverb referred to the continent’s extraordinary diversity, but today it can be applied to the accelerating pace of change as Africa begins to reshape its economic destiny.

It’s an exciting time to be an African business. This is a youthful continent, experiencing the most rapid urbanisation rate in the world and, by 2034, it is expected to boast a larger working-age population than either China or India.

Accelerating technological change and rapid adoption of mobile telephony are helping to unlock new opportunities for consumers and businesses, while governments are increasingly conscious of the legislative and policy levers that must be activated to accelerate economic development.

For a business to compete in this environment demands agility and relentless innovation, to deliver new products that meet the evolving expectations of consumers, new skills to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, new processes to adapt to new technology and the fast-changing operating environment, and, in the case of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), also new packaging solutions that respond to environmental concerns and the preferences of consumers.

From a product portfolio point of view, CCBA has 508 different products in the nine African markets where CCBA’s international division operates – Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Ghana as well as the islands of Comoros and Mayotte. That is 65 percent more than last year. Some of them are old favourites such as Coca-Cola itself but many are new like the group’s hydration range of energy drinks and water, teas and coffees, nutrition juice and even value-added dairy drinks. The aim, together with the Coca-Cola company, is to become a total beverage company, and in this context the company is continuously bringing new products to the market in response to changing consumer preferences.

Fundamental to the innovation is increased investment and local sourcing of raw products. As an example, in Kenya, the group is already sourcing local fruit pulp for the manufacture of Minute Maid Mango.

It continues to invest across all markets in products that respond to changing consumer tastes and preferences, as it seeks to increasingly draw on local inputs as part of its commitment to source locally some of the ingredients it currently import. It has an ambitious target to substantially increase local sourcing by 2022.

This is reflective of the belief that the company’s growth is directly linked to the development of the African economy.

As we invest in local production capacity, we also invest in our people, building the skills of our workforce to meet not only the requirements of our business, but the broader economy too, thus enhancing the productivity and growth potential of the continent itself.

Before we put in a new line of products, employees spend several months in the manufacturer’s facility in the country of origin, fine-tuning the skills needed to bring those products to market at the high-quality standards set.


Some of this involves reducing sugar in the drinks, giving consumers options of diet, light or even zero-sugar drinks. It also involves introducing new packaging which reduces portions as we combine scientific research with the changing tastes and dietary preferences of consumers.

Innovation takes courage and when we succeed, everyone succeeds. In Ethiopia, we built a factory at a location where there was no other development but once other companies saw what we had done, they started looking for investment opportunities themselves. Today, the plant is run by local employees, all of whom are under the age of 30.

Along with the many opportunities on offer, Africa presents unique challenges. In the vast, yet sparsely populated Namibia, we had to completely revamp our coastal route to market to ensure our products were always available and perfectly chilled. We closed an old depot and replaced it with new official Coca-Cola distributors – successfully serving more than 368 retail customers better than ever. We’re finding local solutions for local challenges.

Many of our partner businesses- especially the retailers – now employ other people, having benefited from the many mentorship and small-business programmes we run. We are determined to turn survivalist businesses into sustainable, growing businesses.

We run a range of community empowerment and environmental stewardship programmes – with a special focus on women and youth development.

We share the aspirations of Africans and their governments. Economies succeed as a result of innovative thinking. Everyone benefits when companies do what they know best and keep their focus on growth for all. We want to help build a better Africa and have the will and imagination to help make this happen.

Our thanks to the author, Jacques Vermeulen, who is managing director of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa International Division.  This article may be found online in numerous websites



Sierra Leone Business: SL Commercial Bank boasts of record Le1.1 trillion in deposits

The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) has announced that they have hit a record high of Le1.1 trillion in total deposits for the financial year 2017.
According to SLCB they are the first to hit one trillion in deposits.

In addition to that they recorded the highest profits in the industry with a balance sheet size of Le1.25 trillion, also the first and highest in the industry. This also led to pre-tax profits of Le79.5 billion which is equivalent to USD $10.5 million as at end December 2017.

This the Bank says represents a growth of 122% from 2016 and describes 2017 as a year of remarkable feats. “We achieved such historic profits and sustained our local market dominance in spite of the fierce competition and low economic outturn in a pre-election year” the Bank said.

“We recorded ROA of 5.9% that exceeded our target of 3%. This sterling business performance is underpinned by the aggressive focus on cost-volume leadership and differentiation” the Bank said. “We remain on track in aligning business performance with key strategic priorities to reposition the Bank as the dominant brand.” In their effort to ensure prioritization of organic capital growth and strong liquidity performance in a bid to reinforce their disciplined approach to regain shareholder’s confidence, there was marked improvement in the Bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio of 31.7% against the statutory minimum of 15%.

“Since 2016, the bank has embarked on an accelerated investment in digital transformation and deployed state-of-the art technologies and communications infrastructure to deliver our digital enterprise program. “This is geared towards creating opportunities that promote financial literacy and financial inclusion, taking into the consideration a banking population ratio of 1:8, they are working to reach the unbanked through digital banking.

The bank however, is working on three primary targets of going digital, reinforcing customer centricity and leveraging technology for growth and uniqueness.

Our thanks to the Sierra Leone Awoko for the above online news.


Liberia Losing Gold, Diamond Revenue To Sierra Leone & Guinea

Liberia is said to be losing a huge quantity of gold and diamond daily to Guinea and Sierra Leone due to the high export tax placed on these minerals.

Dealers in the mining industry are reportedly smuggling these minerals to neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone to avoid paying government high tariff of 5% imposed on the minerals.

The 5% tariff on the export and sale of minerals, especially gold and diamond is said to be crippling the sector. The two neighboring countries have a lower tariff on the products, which is 2% for Sierra Leone and 1% in Guinea.

Fara Kamara, Acting President of Liberia Gold and Diamond Broker Association, admitted that the smuggling of the minerals by individuals is to dodge the 5% tax.

“The high percentage of tax on gold and diamond by our Liberia authority is killing the sector, this is causing people to smuggle the ministerial to our neighboring country that has less tariff on the product to sell,” he complained.

Liberia currently has on gold and diamond, a 3% for royalty and 2% for presumptive tax respectively totaling to 5% tariff on the minerals, while Guinea and Sierra Leone impose less than 5%.

“The reduction by 2% on the diamond by Sierra Leone and 1% by Guinea is killing the Liberian gold and diamond industry seriously, Liberia losing diamond for this,” he said.

While he welcomed the President’s mandate to the LRA to cut tariff on basic commodities, he also called on the LRA to reduce tax on gold and diamond.

“We welcome the president’s pronouncement to reduce the tariff on goods but we are also urging that the Liberian leader and the LRA see reason to reduce the tariff on minerals especially gold and diamond,” he said.

When the government reduces the tariff people in the gold and diamond industry will make the sector attractive and this will prevent minerals from leaving the country, he said.

He, however, frowned on those in the habit of smuggling the products to Guinea and Sierra Leone to desist as officials of the Gold and Diamond Broker Association engage government constructively to reduce the tariff.

Sanctions were placed on diamond export sanctions were imposed on the government of Liberia by the United Nations from March 2001 to June 2007. During that period, the country was prohibited from mining, transiting and exporting diamonds.

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is an international system set up to authenticate that the source of diamonds is conflict-free zones.

Liberia started trading diamonds as of August 2007 by following the Kimberley compliance, through the support of the UNDP.

The launch of the Diamonds for Development Programme, a multi-sectoral initiative, was set up to promote the sale of diamonds to contribute to poverty reduction and the country’s post-war reconstruction and development.

Representative Vicent Willie, the House Chairman on Lands, Mines, Energy, Resources and Environment, said it is important that the government pays keen attention to the concerns of the brokers

“Once people are accused of smuggling diamonds to other countries it means the Kimberly system is either not effective or is being overlooked,” the Grand Bassa County lawmaker, who recently held a meeting with Liberian diamond brokers association, told FPA in a telephone interview Monday evening.

“I know there is a process for selling gold; but they (brokers) are into the market and so they know the problems; therefore, when they flag the issue, we have to look into it.”

Representative Wille added that he cannot say “uprightly that government must reduce the tariff”, but stressed that some of the brokers’ issues are valid.

He promised to use his committee to invite the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy to look into the claims.

He added that cutting tax on gold and diamonds is the responsibility of the Executive.

Meanwhile, to curb some illegal activities dogging the sector, the president of brokers said the association has launched its identification card drive to ensure all brokers are identified.

“They need to take advantage of the process because we want all our members to be identified by their clients and other business partners here, the process is free of charge, you only need to come to Monrovia and continue your process,” he said.

Our thanks to the Front Page Africa for the above online news.