Written by Angela Corbalan, firstname.lastname@example.org / (+1) 917 224 9109
Friday, 20 May 2016 04:43
By using digital payments to pay Ebola response workers, Sierra Leone massively cut payment times, avoiding large-scale strikes and ensuring a stable workforce to defeat Ebola. Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of preparing early for digital payments before crises hit.
FREETOWN / NEW YORK, 18 May, 2016 – Mobile phones serving as digital “wallets” for payments to response workers proved an invaluable tool in Sierra Leone’s response to the Ebola crisis, according to a new study from the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance.
With economic instability, natural disasters and political conflict now taking place at unprecedented rates, the new research offers valuable lessons on how to harness the power of technology to help emergency workers reach more people by paying them digitally during crises.The country has been Ebola free since January.
The report comes just ahead of the first ever United Nations World Humanitarian summit set to begin next week.
The study shows digital payments delivered compelling results in Sierra Leone, including:
Cost savings of US $10.7 million for the government, taxpayers, development partners and response workers – the equivalent of funding Sierra Leone’s Free Health Care Program catering for 1.4 million children and 250,000 pregnant women annually.
Reducing payment times from over one month on average for cash to one week.
Preventing the loss of around 800 working days per month from the Ebola response workforce, helping save lives during this critical time.
Saving response workers around $80,000 per month in travel costs by avoiding lengthy journeys to cash payment centers.
Crucially, Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of governments, companies, and international organizations working together to develop policy frameworks, infrastructure and operating guidelines for digital payments before crises strike.
"Sierra Leone's firsthand experience with digital payments and its impact on Ebola response and control taught us that, Governments like ours must take this growing payment system seriously as it can significantly contribute to inclusive growth and transparency,” said H.E. Momodu L. Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development.“In developing the partnership with private sector, development organizations, the Central Bank, financial institutions, network providers; and building the foundation for an inclusive digital payment system, Government must take the lead."
Sierra Leone was one of the hardest-hit countries during the Ebola outbreak, with more than 14,000 reported cases of the 28,000 total cases in West Africa. Ebola response workers were spread across Sierra Leone’s 14 districts, including many health units in rural areas. The speed with which Ebola spread meant the government needed a more efficient, reliable and secure tool than cash to manage payments to response workers in a country where there were fewer than 50 ATMs when the outbreak struck.
Digital payments offered a powerful solution, particularly given Sierra Leone already had mobile network coverage across nearly 95 percent of the country, and more than 90 percent of response workers with access to a mobile phone.
One of the major challenges of cash is that it is expensive, slow, difficult to transport and vulnerable to theft, graft and payment errors. Late or incorrect payments to response workers often led to strikes during past emergencies and at the start of the Ebola crisis before digital payments were implemented.
In Sierra Leone, digital payments reduced these strikes from an average of eight per month - causing the loss of about 800 working days per month – to virtually zero.
“Ebola response workers put their lives at risk every day. It was vitally important they received all the money they earned, with no skimming or theft. They got it immediately, as their families had no other income; and only legitimate workers got paid - no one else. Paying Ebola response workers directly into a digital wallet instead of cash met these goals, saved lives and over $10 million,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of The Better Than Cash Alliance. “Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of developing and implementing national policy frameworks and supporting infrastructure to drive effective and flexible digital payments ecosystems in advance of humanitarian crises.”
The vast majority of the cost savings were due to eliminating payments to people who were not legitimate Ebola response workers, known as “ghost workers”. The money saved was given to those who really needed it.
The Better Than Cash Alliance has experts available to comment on the study.
/ (+1) 917 224 9109
The Better Than Cash Alliance is a global partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth. The United Nations Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat. To learn more, visit www.betterthancash.org, follow @BetterThan_Cashand subscribe for news.
2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul
The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th IPRA conference in Turkey, at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th IPRA conference in Istanbul to serve a second term of two years.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 20, 2017/ -- Four illegal fishing cases have been found during a joint surveillance mission conducted by Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org/Africa/en) and Sierra Leone fishery authorities. Two Chinese vessels and one Korean vessel have been arrested for infringements of Sierra Leone fishing legislation, including possessing or using illegal fishing nets on board, no visible marking and a lack of required paperwork, including log books and authorisation for unloading catch. Fishing authorities ordered the vessels to return to Freetown port for further investigation. A fourth vessel, owned by an Italian company, was found with four kilograms of shark fins on board. Though not illegal under Sierra Leonean laws, this is a clear violation of European Union (EU) fishing rules. This boat’s case will be taken further with relevant EU authorities.
In addition, more than 70 bags of shark carcasses were found on one of the Chinese vessels.
The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.
The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.
A NEW DAWN FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN SIERRA LEONE, PARLIAMENT APPROVES MELRON NICOL-WILSON AS NEW OMBUDSMAN
The Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone has overwhelmingly approved the appointment of Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson as new Ombudsman, on Tuesday April 11, 2017. This follows him being named by H.E President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the replacement to Justice Edmond Cowan - a long-standing legal icon, who now chairs the Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee.
A man whose action speaks louder than words, Mr Nicol-Wilson has been appointed as new Ombudsman for Sierra Leone, a position reserved for high-profile people, who are well-respected and with unblemished character. Mr Nicol-Wilson has the typical pedigree of an Ombudsman, best known both in Sierra Leone and internationally as a champion for justice and human rights.
The Parliament’s decision to approve Mr Nicol-Wilson was anticipated, as the high-profile human rights lawyer emerged unscathed from an exchange of views with Members of Parliament.
(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely the thoughts of the author)
Election in any democratic setting, include the enjoyment of those rights that will elicit the full participation of individuals in determining the political life of his/her country. An election is a decision making process through which eligible citizens(those who have reached the age of majority, 18 years and above and with sound mind) freely choose their leaders through the ballot box to hold public offices for a specified term.
Generally, people vote with the expectation that the office holders would represent their communitiesand or countries best interest. Elections are viewed as a central feature of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Essentially, election is a testimony to peoples’ sovereignty and that ought to be respected and the process must be credible, otherwise there will be challenge with regards the acceptance of the result.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Thursday 20th April 2017 unanimously voted for the deferment of debate on the Bill entitled “The Finance Act 2017”, pending a pre-legislative briefing and that it should be piloted by the substantive Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo.
Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House who moved the motion explained the importance of the Finance Bill that it provides for the sources of revenue for Government in respect of taxation. She furthered that the pre-legislative hearing will clearly explain the reductions, additions, and significant changes that have been included in the Finance Act of 2017 to Members of Parliament, who will better articulate issues connected thereto during the course of the debate.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, SBB Dumbuya said that “judging from the significance of the Bill, it should be preceded by a pre-legislative briefing” as per the dictates of parliamentary practices and procedures.
On Sunday 26 March 2017, three very close family members were 'laid to rest' at a Thanksgiving and Memorial service held at the King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown. That service celebrated memories of the following family members: Mrs Lydia Sesay nee Yormah (my elder sister), her son Rtd. Captain Alimamy Sesay, and Madame Gbonu Yormah nee Gbloh.
Although these departed loved ones had died and were interred several years ago in my absence that thanksgiving service enabled me to truly emotionally connect with their demise. For one of the deceased the circumstances of his death did not permit us to give him a fitting funeral so to me that service served as his fitting, albeit belated, funeral service. That event has now freed me from the encumbrances that had prevented me for almost 19 years to put my thoughts about his demise on paper. This piece therefore serves as a tribute to his memory.
PRESS RELEASE: Rural Renewable Energy Project Conducts Installation Training
FREETOWN, 19 April 2017: UNOPS Sierra Leone is hosting a training for selected installation companies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, the President’s Recovery Priorities (PRP) programme and United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’).
The theoretical aspect of the training runs from 18th to 20thApril at the Golden Tulip Hotel, followed by 14 days of on-the-job sessionsin Petifu and Conakry Dee communities, in Port Loko District.ASACO, the supplier of the solar equipment, is providing the training facilitators and installation tools.
Participants are mainly Sierra Leonean engineers from Barefoot Women Solar Engineers Association (BWSEA),Frontier Business Solutions (FBS) and APTECH Africa Limited. Training contents include, photovoltaic (PV) system basics, types of solar systems, arrays and connections, project safety and guidance on using the installation checklists.
Former elected Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana left Freetown International Airport, Lungi late afternoon Wednesday April 19, 2017 onboard Kenya Airways on an "Emergency Travel Certificate", en route to Abuja, Nigeria on or about April 23/24, 2017 for the hearing of his petition filed on October 24, 2016 in the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, "seeking an enforcement of his fundamental Human Rights arising from his unconstitutional removal from office, and for further orders contained in the application."
"This matter has been set down for hearing by the Court for April 26, 2017."
According to a spokesman for the Sam Sumana family Matthias Bendu who was with Sam Sumana at the airport until the aircraft was airborne because of advanced information reaching the family that there would be some problem awaiting Sam Sumana at the airport, Matthias Bendu told this Writer on the cellphone from the airport that Sam Sumana "was detained by Immigration Officers at the airport for more than thirty minutes after the aircraft landed, and it was due to the intervention of the Inspector General of Police Francis Munu who told the immigration Officers that Sam Sumana had not committed any crime and must be allowed to travel".