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Thursday, February 2, 2023

World Bank Henry Kerali Schooled President Koroma

HomeAYV NewsWorld Bank Henry Kerali Schooled President Koroma

World Bank Henry Kerali Schooled President Koroma


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Mr. Henry Kerali is the new Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, effective July 1, 2015. Mr Kerali, a Ugandan national, joined the Bank in 2003 in the Infrastructure & Energy Department in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region. Before joining the Bank, he was a Professor at the University Of Birmingham, England, specializing in the development of transport infrastructure. He led the research of developed economic cost-benefit models for assessing the feasibility of infrastructure investments. He holds a BSc (Eng.) from Makerere University, and MSc and PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK. Prior to taking up this new appointment, Henry was the World Bank’s Regional Director for the South Caucasus, based in Georgia. He has previously also worked in different regions of the world including Latin America, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and ECA, and has also served as Sector Manager of the Bank’s transport program in the ECA Region.

During Kerali’s visit to Sierra Leone I was fortunate to have a one on one conversation with him. He gave his personal opinions and also the position of the World Bank on certain issues of governance and development.
The strongest of the issues he spoke about was the construction of the
Mamamah airport. Mr Kerali said that at this point in time there is no economic justification for the construction of a new airport. He said personally he thinks that there are still other areas of priority that the government needs to deal with. He said that the World Bank has decided not to put fund into that project because Sierra Leone has presented a comprehensive post ebola recovery programme that needs funding at the moment. So for World Bank, the issue is a question of timing. The question being raised by the World Bank is how advantageous will a brand new airport be when air traffic to Sierra Leone has decreased over the past year due to the outbreak of ebola in the country. Mr Kerali said this makes it even harder to justify the airport case. However he said the President and his government should give it a few more years when the economic justification can be proved, then the World Bank will consider their proposal
He encouraged the government to look at other options such as making improvements to the Lungi airport, improve access to Lungi and Loko. He added that the government should think about the long term future of Freetown. He said in 50 years the town will not have room for expansion because people definitely can’t build out into the sea and the mountains are almost full and they are not exactly the most structural or safe zones for residents. For these reasons, he advised the government to concentrate on the pressing issues at hand and kick the airport issue to the back seat for now.

Mr Kerali stated that in a meeting with the President they touched on issues with the telecommunications sector. He said he is aware of the need to liberalise the gateway to Sierra Leone and to reduce the cost of internet and communication tariffs. He said President Koroma told him about the agreement between the government and telecom operators to enter into new form of licensing. Mr Kerali said the idea is to make sure there is no monopoly in the telecom sector, bring down prices and improve the quality and speed of both voice and internet data. World Bank has been insisting to have it liberalised and have it open to competition so that anyone who can afford a licence can be able to do run a business in the telecom sector. The World Bank is also willing to provide technical support to NATCOM to help detect and deal with fraudulent use of the bandwidth.

The World Bank Country Director said that the bank is making efforts to further improve fisheries in the country. Kerali said there needs to be a restructuring of the management of Fisheries, the process licensing boats and sea vessels and there are also looking at other mechanisms to further strengthen and build the capacity of the sector. He said Sierra Leone has been trying to enter the EU Market the fish product for a while now but the EU market has proved difficult to access for various reasons mainly dealing with their regulations. He said Sierra Leone can have access to the market if they can follow the regulations but the real issue is how to catch the fish process it and also control the type of fishing so that the country does not exhaust its resources. He said wide net fishing leaves no time and space for fish stock to recover and very little is left to catch at the end of the day. Kerali said studies indicate that fish stock has depleted over the years therefore Sierra Leone needs to control the volume of trolling and also look beyond the EU Market where there will be much less regulation for better prices.

The World Bank has plans to further support to the transport sector, supply improved ferry services, which are deficient and improve movement between Freetown and Lungi. Mr Kerali said that in addition to the supply of ferries the World Bank is exploring the possibilities to finance the infrastructure for landing sites. There will be open tender for the supply of two ferries and the government had already embarked on that project. There have been a number of bids but no contract has been signed yet, therefore the contents of the bids remain confidential.

Talking about the energy sector Mr Kerali stated that the splitting or unbundling  of  the energy sector as a general principle is the right thing to do for most developing countries. He said  energy deficit in Sierra Leone is huge because the total energy production is 75 mega watts when the total demand is about 500 to 600 mega watts. He emphasised that the government does not have enough money to install all the generation capacity in demand so the advantage of unbundling is to attract the private sector as independent power producers and make the energy distribution market accessible for entry at different points He said the unbundling of the energy service can help improve efficiency of service provision making reference to the small  success story of Ghana whose unbundling led to quite a number of private sector investments and independent power producers. He said Ghana’s energy deficit gap is also huge as they have installed generation and supply of 1.5 Gigawatts when their demand is 3 Gigawatts.

It is no secret that Freetown has very poor access to water. Mr Kerali noted that the World Bank does not have a water project for Freetown at the moment but they are exploring way by which they can make the situation better. He said that the problem of water comes from the fact that Freetown is a town designed for 300,000 people but now the town has up to 7 times that number therefore there is generally scarcity of resources for the town.


Mr Kerali said the starting point for World Bank is to contribute to the development of any country is assess the country’s development goals in this case the Agenda for Prosperity and from that they can agree on a programme for support that the World Bank can contribute up to 50 to 60 million dollars per year. He said  all the efforts of the  World Bank have helped Sierra Leone to reach and that the health sector should be of high priority to the Government at the moment so that there will not be as many loss of lives should another ebola outbreak attack Sierra Leone. He said there is still room for improvement in areas of governance and corruption and that leaders can improve their efficiency in governance, the ways in which public funds are distributed and also the efficiency of public services. He said Sierra Leone does not rank very well in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index therefore the country and its people need to work harder to reduce corruption for a brighter future.

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