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Ponder My Thoughts

Ponder My Thoughts

"Andrew Keili's collection of in-depth commentary, news analysis, opinion and essays on the most talked-about topics in Sierra Leone should be owned by everyone who needs to know what's going on right now.

The anthology explores the most talked-about topics in Sierra Leone in 2013, but it still feels like you're reading today's newspaper." Lango Deen, Sewa News.

 

About the author

Andrew Keili studied Mining Engineering at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK before returning home to Sierra Leone to work in several capacities in various mining companies. He has several years of experience in private industry and public institutions and has served on the Boards of many of them. He is currently an Executive Director of Cemmats Group Ltd., a multidisciplinary Engineering consultancy in Sierra Leone and is also involved in national politics. He lives in Freetown with his family.

 

Read some pages...

 

January 3, 2013

 

MISUSE OF DONOR FUNDS

 

Misuse of donor funds is nothing new but the recent case of the GAVI funds, prudent use of which could have done so much to address childhood health problems, should gall anyone who cares about this in Sierra Leone. The real truth is yet to be unearthed but the misuse of donor funds has been going on unchecked in many sectors. Usually a structure should be set up for managing programmes but it seems like it is these very structures that are undermined. The relationship of these programmes with line ministries seems to vary from programme to programme. Most of these programmes are also monitored by donors and reported upon in the reports of their supervision missions. It is surprising how many startling revelations are made in these reports for which there is no follow-up. It seems the follow up only becomes important when donors threaten to withdraw funds. It also surprises me that ministers would seem to distance themselves from such when problems arise. When the problem occurs over a sustained period, the management skills of the minister have got to be questioned. The Gavi fund debacle is being investigated. One very much hopes the investigations will be dispassionate and remedial measures will be taken and that we can learn not to repeat the mistakes with other programmes.

 

REGULATING THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR

 

One might be excused for sympathising with any Minister of Energy. Getting the electricity sector from its less than 10% access rate nationally to any meaningful figure is indeed a yeoman's task. While the long-term plans for future power provision are being put in place, and whilst experiencing problems with the power output from the current Bumbuna Phase 1, an Independent Power provider (IPP) project could indeed be welcome. As long as this is done in a transparent way and specified properly with recourse to reducing the cost of production, it will be welcome news. It is however surprising that even though an Act has been passed to set up a regulatory agency for the electricity and water sectors, this has not been effected. The advantages of having a regulator are many. It will help both the power provider and the consumer, resulting in better power provision. The regulatory agency will ensure that tariffs charged are fair and that there is healthy competition between the providers. It will also ensure that the inefficiencies of the provider and/or the National Power Authority (NPA) are not passed on to the consumer. Time for the government to act fast on the regulatory agency!

 

MINIMISING ROAD CONSTRUCTION INCONVENIENCE

 

The advantages of new roads projects cannot be disputed and any well-meaning citizen would welcome a well-conceived and executed road project. Roads open up new areas for development, facilitate our movement and result overall in economic development. It should be unreasonable to expect that these projects cannot proceed without some inconvenience to users. What is however surprising is the almost cocky attitude of construction companies who could care less about inconveniencing people for prolonged periods. Countless people have gone without electricity and water because of the roads projects, as cables and pipes are moved for unduly long periods. This needs better liaison between the road construction companies and the utility companies. It is irritating that road companies do not even bother to put up signs for road diversions. Drivers have been forced to get themselves into corners sometimes with unwelcome results. Hazardous areas like gaping holes are not even marked and one could keep going round in circles if you cannot discern the correct detour. Surely with a little bit of thought these problems can be sorted out. It is no excuse to say they are so busy with the construction that they cannot be bothered with "small matters". In any case all road companies are required by law to prepare an Environmental Management Plan which addresses such issues. These are not mundane ? they can save lives and obviate unnecessary inconvenience. Time for the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) to get tough!

 

 

WELCOMING PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES

 

Parliament has been busy setting up committees to provide oversight of the functioning of various ministries. This is good as it provides an alternative oversight of these ministries from our lawmakers. After all they make the laws by which these ministries function. One however wonders about the effectiveness of some of these committees which seem to acquiesce to the whims of the institutions under these ministries. One wonders whether with an effective oversight Committee for the Health Sector, a problem like the Gavi fund issue could not have been averted. Oversight committees should not be used as intimidating tools for the purpose of getting favours for the members. Oversight committees must probe but not be so interventionist as if they run these institutions. This is a new Parliament with ostensibly a lot of bright new people, many of them professionals, who have made their mark in various spheres of work before becoming lawmakers. Here?s hoping that we will have more effective oversight committees.

 

Ponder my thoughts.

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