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Youth Unemployment Is A Killer Virus In Sierra Leone PDF Print E-mail
View Point
Written by Elkass Sannoh   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:46

“I studied Sociology at NjalaUniversity and graduated in 2015 but still unemployed despite several interviews being attended. I am currently awaiting my MSc at Njala University which is to be awarded early next year,” said 29 year old MabintyKamara.

“I graduated in 2012 with Honours from the Department of Accounting, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. I have sent several job applications; the only long job I got was with the International Medical Corps during the deadly Ebola virus and since then no job. I was also a volunteer teacher but the Minister of Education, Science and Technology did not approve me and others after almost a year of voluntary service so I quit,” said 31 year old Mohamed LaminKanneh.

In Sierra Leone, despite the numerous promises made by President Ernest BaiKoroma to figuratively ‘lay his life for the youth,’ unemployment among youth is one of the highest with no end in sight to reduce the spate of this social menace. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment.

The youth population, aged 15-35, comprises one third of the population of Sierra Leone and youth unemployment was a major root cause of the outbreak of civil conflict in Sierra Leone.” UNDP Sierra Leone emphasized that the number of unemployed youth is now at an alarming rate, noting that the proportion of educated youth will also continue to rise and pointed out the need for strong, accelerated economic growth and development.According to Sierra Leone unemployment data from 2014-2017, “The unemployment rate in Sierra Leone remained unchanged at 3% in 2016 from 3% 2015. The unemployment rate in Sierra Leone averaged 3.10% from 2004 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 4.45% in 2016 and a record low of 3%.”

Recent research shows that the country is believed to have the highest rate of underemployment among the youth that are earning less than one United States Dollar ($1) per day. A greater  proportion  of the  working youth  are  still  living in  extreme poverty and  more  than  80  percent of  young  Sierra  Leoneans  are  earning below  the poverty line of $2 per days.

Youth unemployment has been an age old problem inherited by the ruling All Peoples Congress led Government and therefore many national youth policies have been developed to tackle the growing unemployment among youths. The most trumpeted among them is the establishment of the National Youth Commission (NaYCOM) and other related national youth policies enshrined in the Agenda for Prosperity.

The fundamental reason/s for the creation of the NaYCOM and its related youth policies was/were to tackle youth unemployment and under-employment, skills mismatch, access  to  quality  education,  drug abuse,  gender  inequality,participatory role in decision making processes among others. Sadly, we are still unable to reduce the growing unemployment rate by at least one percent because of non-enforcement and unavailability of statistical data for unemployment especially among youths.

In other developmentally focused countries, they do have an updated figure or statistics for those unemployed, underemployed and even unemployable to guide the government in budgetary allocations and policy formulation. I am still finding it difficult to accept that the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security did not provide me with statistics of those gainfully employed and unemployed.  The Ministry of Youth Affairs cannot tell me the current unemployment percentage among Sierra Leonean youths. This means the Government of Sierra Leone is not even serious to tackle the growing youth employment. The truth is, without strong enforcement, no amount of policy will tackle this growing virus that is eating deep into the potentials of our youths.

Sadly, with the purported influx of many private Exploration, Mining, Banking, Telecommunications, Aviation, Hotel and Tourism and Agro processing companies in Sierra Leone our unemployment rate has still not changed significantly as being fancifully talked about by the ruling Government. The unanswered question is: why the growth in our Gross Domestic Product over the past couple of years but the unemployment rate continues to rise?

The Deputy Minister of Information and Communication-Cornelius Deveaux has confirmed that there are challenges but they have empowered more youths than any other Government have done. This statement has been rebuked by the former World Bank Economist and erstwhile National Secretary General of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party-Jacob JusuSaffa who described the ruling Government as a “complete failure”. ButDeveaux insisted that they have employed more young people and encouraged them to actively participate in national governance.

In a bid to help developing countries tackle youth unemployment, the African Development Bank Group has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group to create better jobs. The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs.This initiative is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa. It is my fervent hope that Sierra Leone will benefit. In as much as Sierra Leone has benefitted from many donor supports but the implementation has been a white elephant. In fact some of those projects were not used for the intended purpose; hence youth unemployment will continue to be a deadly virus without a vaccine/therapy.

In addition, the AfDB in 2016 invested $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture as a business in 8 countries. It will reach 15 countries this year. This is to make agriculture very attractive to young people. AfDB is expected to invest 1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to support young people and Sierra Leone will not be excluded.

If this growing problem is not seriously tackled, it has the propensity to reverse our sluggish gains and erupt the peace and stability we are enjoying as a nation.Our youths are dying! The future is still dark with no hope of a brighter dawn.

Recommendations

The Government of Sierra Leone should fully enforce and implement the existing national youth policies. This is lacking and if it is not achieve, youth unemployment will not be reduced by even one percent.

To establish and fully equip all technical vocational institutes across the country and make them accessible and affordable regardless of all political or regional affiliations.

In partnership with the Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Education should ensure that all universities introduce courses that are in line with the current job market demand. This is the Pen of the Voiceless Sierra Leoneans.

 

 

Editorial

26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.

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Presenting both Agreements prior to ratification, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma said that the additional Agreements are geared towards addressing some of the concerns raised by MPs, in respect of expanding our Ports facilities to accommodate larger vessels, and the issuance of license with the view of combating money laundering, contra-band goods, and attracting more funds for Government.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House, also supported the ratification of the two Agreements, saying if our Ports are not developed, we would not be able to attract huge vessels; thus the need for the continuous improvement of our Ports facilities.

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Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, has said that President Ernest Bai Koroma has disappointed the media on press freedom in the country. 

“Successive governments have given us false hopes on the repeal of the criminal libel law. The politicians have lied to us. They have taken us to be big fools. President Koroma is our biggest disappointment. We had high hopes in him but he failed us woefully. So we will not trust any politician again, because when they get into office they forget about their promises,” said Nasralla.
 
Nasralla was speaking last Friday while formally launching a report on criminal defamation laws in Africa by PEN Sierra Leone at the SLAJ Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, Campbell Street, Freetown. 
 
He recalled that before he was first elected President of the Republic in 2007, President Koroma was a staunch campaigner against criminal libel law in Sierra Leone, but when he became President he suddenly had a different view.
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Commentary

WHO PAYS THE NOVEMBER 2017 ECOWAS COURT / V.P. SAMUEL S. SAM-SUMANA’S COURT RULING CHARGES/FINES??

Your Excellency Sir,

For over a month now, since the ECOWAS Regional Court in Abuja, Nigeria handed down their landmark opinion on the Vice President, Samuel Sam-Sumana’s appeal law suit against his “unconstitutional removal” from power by your APC government, having been legally sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, I have been taken, both by extreme trepidation and satisfaction, as I continue my reflection. In their ruling, (in resume,) the ECOWAS Courtoverturned” the Sierra Leone Supreme Court’s seemingly “compromised” opinion that saw Mr. Sam Sumana arbitrarily or constitutionally deposed from his position as the duly elected Vice President of Sierra Leone (alongside you,) midway your second presidential tenure in 2015; just after the infamous Ebola viral epidemic devastating scourge on Sierra Leone. The ECOWAS Court ruling therefore “ordered” the immediate reinstatement of the vice president, furthering that all backlog of his remunerations and emoluments be accorded him, from the time he was sacked, to date; along with his claim for damages of U. S. $ 250 million.

Upon the ruling by this higher regional court, I have had to do some very sober reflections and musing over the “political manoeuvres” and intrigues that originally erupted from an internal APC party wrangling that proceeded to the Sierra Leone parliament, and had to eventually culminate into what most objective and independent legal minds considered a “blatant travesty of justice and breach of our constitution.” This ruling also brought a legal embarrassment to the Sierra Leone justice system in the sub region, continent and world over. And whereas I would not want to meddle with the political ramifications and implications of that higher regional court’s “legal opinion,” I would like to briefly examine the moral and economic considerations, as I objectively see them. This then obviously takes me back to my caption question that I would summarize as “Who Pays the ECOWAS Court’s Ruling Charges??”

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View Point

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Mr. President,stress is increasingly becoming visible in the conduct of most Sierra Leoneans; hence stress is a pressure or worry caused by the problems in somebody's life.

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(MFAIC Press Office, 4th January, 2018). The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Kaifala Marah has presented the All Walks Of Life (AWOL) prestigious award of ‘Best Ministry of the Year 2017’  to the outgone Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara at a press conference held at the Ministry’s conference Hall, Tower Hill, Freetown.

In his brief statement before officially handing over the award to the outgone Minister, Dr. Marah gave a brief overview of the introduction of performance contracts in 2014 by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma that set in motion the process of enhancing and operational mandates in various MDAs. It is against this background that the Ministry was among the five best performing Ministries based on the outcome of the Ministry’s Performance Contract Assessment Report for 2016/17 (Performance Tracking Table – PTT) in the country.

Dr. Kaifala Marah lauded the relentless efforts of Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara, during whose tenure the Ministrydeveloped and articulated, for the first time ever, a comprehensive strategy to guide and re-invigorate the national approach to foreign policy and international cooperation in a rapidly changing global environment.

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According to the foreign envoys during their separate meetings with the Minister, their visit to the newly appointed Minister is to enhance and deepen the existing partnerships and bilateral relations between their respective countries and the Republic of Sierra Leone. They extended fraternal salutations and congratulatory messages from their Government and people of their respectively countries to the Government and people of Sierra Leone.

The foreign envoys underscored their Governments’ continuous assistance and support to Sierra Leone. Thecurrent electoral climate in the countrywas discussed within the perspectives of bilateral and multilateral relations, underlining the common interests in developing political, cultural and economic relations, as well as the interpersonal relations between the EU, the Arab Republic of Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran,the People’s Republic of China, India and Sierra Leone.

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SIERRA LEONE AND ISRAEL ADVANCE DIPLOMATIC TIES IN SEOUL

The Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ambassador Chaim Choshen today 4th January 2018 paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ambassador Omrie Michael Golley, at the Sierra Leone Mission in Seoul, the South Korean Capital. 

Ambassador Choshen, who was appointed as Ambassador of Israel to South Korea in August 2016, expressed his appreciation for being warmly received by his Sierra Leonean host and counterpart, and stated that his Government was very keen to expand its relations with Africa, citing the examples of Official Visits in recent months by the Israeli Prime Minister Mr Benjamin Netanyahu to various countries in Africa.

Recounting the recent Official Visit of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma to Israel, Ambassador Omrie Golley stated that the recent visit of President Koroma underscored the importance that his Government was attaching to expanding Sierra Leone's ties with Israel, particularly in the economic sphere.

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