From the Editor’s Keyboard

17 Things To Help Develop Sierra Leone(Part 1 of 3)

16 October 2008 at 21:36 | 765 views

By Amadu Massally,Guest Writer,USA.

INTRODUCTION

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a United States Government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world. Established in January 2004, the MCC is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and investments in people. MCC’s mission is to reduce global poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth. This is precisely the path Sierra Leone needs to follow.

Before a country can become eligible to receive assistance, however, MCC looks at their performance on independent and transparent policy indicators. Depending on how well these countries perform in relation to the indicators, the MCC provides two different kinds of monetary assistance - Compact Assistance and Threshold Agreements. Later in the article we will analyze Sierra Leone’s position based on the reports the MCC produce every year.

The Threshold Program is designed to assist countries that are on the "threshold," meaning they have not yet qualified for MCA Compact funding, but have demonstrated a significant commitment to improve their performance on the scorecard of 17 things (indicators). This could fall anywhere from approximately $9 MM to $24 MM as the past low and high amounts awarded in Africa exemplifies.

A Compact is a multi-year agreement between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and an eligible country to fund specific programs targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth. And these could range from a low of $110 Million (Cape Verde and Madagascar) to a high of $698 Million (Tanzania).

OVERVIEW OF THE MCC SELECTION PROCESS

MCC looks at several elements in choosing selection indicators. They include:

Development by a third party (World Bank, Freedom House, UNESCO, etc.)
Linkage to policies that the government can influence within a two to three year horizon,
Linkage-theoretically or empirically-to economic growth and poverty reduction,
Use of an analytically rigorous methodology and objective and high-quality data,
Broad country coverage and comparability across countries,
Consistency in results from year to year

THE INDICATORS
The following table lists the 17 things (indicators) used to determine country eligibility for MCC program assistance.

Indicator,Category, Source

Civil Liberties
Ruling Justly
Freedom House

Political Rights
Ruling Justly
Freedom House

Voice and Accountability
Ruling Justly
World Bank Institute

Government Effectiveness
Ruling Justly
World Bank Institute

Rule of Law
Ruling Justly
World Bank Institute

Control of Corruption
Ruling Justly
World Bank Institute

Immunization Rates
Investing in People
World Health Organization

Public Expenditure on Health
Investing in People
World Health Organization

Girls’ Primary Education Completion Rate
Investing in People
UNESCO

Public Expenditure on Primary Education
Investing in People
UNESCO and national sources

Business Start Up
Economic Freedom
IFC

Inflation
Economic Freedom
IMF WEO

Trade Policy
Economic Freedom
Heritage Foundation

Regulatory Quality
Economic Freedom
World Bank Institute

Fiscal Policy
Economic Freedom
national sources, cross-checked with IMF WEO

Natural Resource Management
Investing in People
CIESIN/Yale

Land Rights and Access
Economic Freedom
IFAD / IFC

The issues around collecting and reporting on the data are numerous, from inaccurate data to untimely reporting among others, not to mention that there is a whole lot of subjectivity inherent in the process. In addition there are dozens of organizations that collect the data, many of them with staff not as savvy as Sierra Leoneans in understanding the nuances unique to our country.

This is one of the areas that we, as civil society in and out of Sierra Leone should be focusing on, to make sure that we understand the data collection process(es) from "cradle-to-grave" (beginning to end). Only when we have understood the data collection process can we can implement effective strategies to maximize our participation and improve upon our results.

In a meeting with World Bank Institute Analyst, Mr. Massimo Mastruzzi, the author found out that the World Bank itself does not collect the data on the 5 indicators for which they provide information that the MCC uses. They also have to rely upon seventeen other organizations that provide such data, which in turn they compile and make available to the MCC. These reporting processes are critical to a country’s given success or failure to formally engage with the MCC via the selection process or ultimately win on one or both of the two grant models they have.

SUCCESS STORIES

The following examples are all the monies that have been awarded to countries in Africa either through the Threshold Program or the more lucrative Compact Assistance.

Burkina Faso — $12.9 million
Kenya — $12.7 million
Malawi — $20.9 million
Niger — $23 million
Saõ Tomé and Principe — $8.66 million
Tanzania — $11.1 million
Uganda — $10.4 million
Zambia — $24.3 million

All of that totals $123,960,000, with an average of about $15,495,000. Let us now look at some examples of countries that have been granted Compact Assistance;

Benin — $307 million
Burkina Faso — $480.94 million
Cape Verde — $110 million
Ghana — $547 million
Lesotho — $363 million
Madagascar — $110 million
Mali — $461 million
Morocco — $697.5 million
Mozambique — $507 million
Namibia — $304.5 million
Tanzania — $698 million

All of that totals $4,585,000,000, with an average of about $416,903,600.

Now that we have a basic idea of what the MCC is and what it has done in the continent of Africa, we would all agree it is no small feat. I want us to look closely at how SL, specifically, stands with running for the MCC Threshold Agreement and/or Compact program based on the scorecard of 2008 that reports on 2007 data and the analysis we have done to raise awareness of the opportunity.

SIERRA LEONE’S SCORECARD

The numbers for Sierra Leone look grim at first sight, but when you sit back and analyze them in depth as the author did with a World Bank Institute official, Massimo Mastruzzi, there is hope that we may qualify for a threshold to specifically deal with something as pervasive as corruption in the country by 2009, and a possible compact in the near future. So the long and short is that Sierra Leone has a few good things in place and has many challenging ones as well, as the MCC indicators specific to the country illustrate.

We will cover the analysis of Sierra Leone’s position in part 2 of this article, which was mainly put together with information received form the MCC’s website and other relevant documents made available by a member of the World Bank whose area is responsible for reporting on 5 of the indicators the MCC uses for assessing eligibility and/or qualification.

It is our hope that this article in its entirety becomes a tool for citizens, civil society organizations, journalists, the private sector, and the government of Sierra Leone to not only become more aware of the MCC and what it can mean to and for us as Sierra Leoneans, but to get engaged as soon as possible with the relevant parties.

*The author(photo) considers himself an advocate for social responsibility and sustainable development in Sierra Leone and hopes that his country men and women can participate more as ordinary citizens of Sierra Leone in the development of their native land. He is the President of the Sierra Leone Network, a civil society advocacy group that focuses on national issues.

He can be reached at the following email addresses: amadu.massally@slgha.org and amadu.massally@gmail.com for any questions or comments.

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