Sierra Leone must build back better from the shocks of COVID-19 and create strong foundations to avoid future economic struggles, according to Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones.
On 25 November 2021, Dr. Jones, who is also the Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone, addressed colleagues in economics at the first Annual Conference of the Economic Association of Sierra Leone. The title of the conference was “The Building Blocks to a Resilient Economy: How Can Africa Redeem Itself from Shocks to Claim the 21st Century (Sierra Leone’s Perspective).” As Chair of the conference, Dr. Jones’ opening remarks outlined the central themes that the meeting would address. Fellow Amjuae Leader Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr generously hosted the event in Freetown City Council’s auditorium.
Dr. Jones, one of the 2021 Amujae Leaders, highlighted a series of global shockwaves over the past decade and a half that have “consistently erased hard-earned gains, exacerbated inequalities and reversed growth trajectories, especially in Africa.” In Sierra Leone and other countries in Africa, the infrastructure and mechanisms for responding to these crises are still lacking, she said. Despite the challenges facing Sierra Leone, Dr. Jones highlighted that the country’s economy is set to grow by 5% in 2020 and “relative macroeconomic stability will be retained.”
Among Sierra Leone’s successes, Dr. Jones mentioned “more children in school, more health workers, new measures to improve agricultural productivity.” She also stated, “we are scaling up investments in infrastructure, implementing innovative public financial management reforms, improving the ease of doing business, and investing in our people across all sectors.”
According to Dr. Jones, Sierra Leone must maintain its progress to create a stronger economy that won’t be rocked in the same way by future crises:
“We need to consolidate these gains and create the foundation for continued inclusive growth even in the face of shocks.We need to address the root causes of economic vulnerabilities.”
Dr. Jones hoped the conference would be a starting point for “action-oriented dialogue” that will lead to positive and lasting economic change.
Watch Dr. Jones’ full remarks here.