By Joseph Johnson
The Managing Director for Africa Millennium Challenge Corporation, Jason Small has said that they are on track with the compact development project and express hope that by this time next year Sierra Leone will be celebrating the signing of the compact project of forty-four point four million dollar ($44.4 million) that will focus on delivering water and electricity services more effectively and transparently in the Freetown.
Jason Small was speaking during a media round table on the just released MCC scorecard and the progress made on the compact development project that Sierra Leone qualified for last year. Jason said that they found out that the lack of reliable access to power is a major constraint to economic growth which is why they are focusing on electricity and water.
He furthered that they have made progress and they are now at the finalized identification of the projects, adding that they are particularly looking at projects in power generation, transmission lines, distribution and capacity building. “Compact development is going so well, we are on track, I hope this time next year to be celebrating the signing of the compact, a testament of the good work of Sierra Leone compact developing unit,” Small said.
He revealed that they have been working on a compact program for almost two years and they are making great progress together with their Sierra Leone counterparts. “We have focused the compact program on the energy sector because it evident if you travel around the country, you will see that the lack of reliable access to power is a major constraint to economic growth and MCC’s mission is to reduce poverty through economic growth,” Jason ended.
In his address, the United States of America Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer reiterated the completion of the 44.4-million-dollar project in Sierra Leone that focuses on delivering water and electricity services while noting that over the past year, MCC in collaboration with the government and other stakeholders has been discussing a proposal for a new much larger compact which if implemented has the potential to fundamentally transform access to electricity across Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Reimer urged that “programs like these cannot be rushed, they take time, planning and research and close collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure that the investment we make are sustainable and that they reflect the needs and local contacts.”
He ended by saying that the MCC compact should be considered as partnerships and to be eligible for a compact, Sierra Leone must continue to meet their obligation as partners, emphasizing that one of those obligations is to maintain high score across minimum number of categories in the scorecard.
While speaking on the just launched MCC scorecard for 2023 Financial Year, the Managing Director for Selection, Eligibility and Policy Performance at MCC, Dan Barnes pointed out that MCC revised two indicators which were done as part of an annual review process to review the scorecard indicator using the highest quality data and methodologies available.
He revealed that they specifically replaced the previous Business Start-Up indicator with a new indicator called employment opportunity which measures disability rights, forced labor, workplace discrimination, and the ability of civil society organizations to start-up. He added that they also revised the data source and methodology for the Natural Resources Protection indicator. “Using new data sources for these two indicators means that this year’s scorecard is not directly comparable to last year’s scorecard,” Barnes said.
Additionally, Barnes further noted that when technical changes like that occur, they impact all countries that receive MCC scorecards and may cause some countries to newly pass or fail indicators due to these technical changes. “MCC’s Board is aware of this dynamic and takes it into account for all countries when determining country selection,” he added.
Ending his address, Barnes cautioned that even though the scorecard is an important tool that MCC’s Board uses to assess a country’s commitment to their statutory criteria; it is not the only aspect the Board considers. Pointing out that the Board also considers a country’s broader, ongoing commitment to the principles of democratic governance that underpin the scorecard, which include combatting corruption, protecting democratic rights, holding peaceful, free, and fair elections, fostering inclusive economic opportunities, and investing in health, education, and the environment.
He congratulated Sierra Leone government on passing the scorecard again this year noting that while they work to finalize development of the compact, they hope to see all Sierra Leoneans continue to demonstrate strong commitment to fostering an enabling environment for democratic governance and economic growth, which he said is essential to ensuring that the MCC compact can be impactful for the people of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone passed eleven out of twenty indicators with a great performance on expenditure in education among others. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an innovate and independent U.S foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty through time-limited grants that promotes economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions.
The United States Congress laid out series of statutory criteria that MCC must use in determining which country is to partner with and to continue to partner with. MCC then created scorecards as a way to objectively assess countries performance against the criteria that the Congress laid out. The scorecards are composed of 20 indicators sourced from independent third-party institutions.