The Devil’s Alternative to Development

27 November 2007 at 12:19 | 631 views

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria.

Development as both a process and concept involves the synchronised and coordinated participation of all levels and members of a socio economy with the ultimate aim of making change happen. Change can be negative or positive and whatever the outcome is a reflection of the expressed outlook of the stakeholders involved in the execution of those processes over any given period of time.

This outcome is determined by a host of factors and parameters. The factors normally stem from the existing political and socio-cultural environment as it is determined by the events and processes set into motion both by design and accident. Designs, of course, reflect the political thinking of the social entity at any given point whereas accidents are outcomes dictated by the ineptitudes of human imperfections.

When more accidents happen than designs then it implies that such a social entity has failed to plan, or if even there is a plan it is not at consonance with the needs of the entity, and in such a case the absolute outcome will be negative.

On the other hand, where designs supersede or surmounts the ineptitudes of human imperfections through constant and sustained research and models application, then there is always a tendency for positive change, set in motion by the correlative and associative vectors implicit in the models used.

Simply put, if this sounds too bookish, is that development is the result of all the actions of every member of any given society .When such actions are determined by all in a democratic and liberal atmosphere then it is going to reflect a design that will bring the change desired by all but when on the other hand a greater majority of the society is excluded and/or everything is left to fate then unplanned events with undesirable effects ,accidents, will happen.

The latter, to a greater extent, has been the case with Sierra Leone from independence up to now. This has been the case purely because, historically and traditionally the Sierra Leonean society has been , not without designs , one with designs modelled out of an hierarchical concept that is influenced, to a greater extent, by gross inadequacies in the understanding of religion, social structures and development as a factor of change.

There has been too great a premium on God and government as the ultimate determiners of change as is influenced by tradition by the citizenry whereas change for the foreign elements in Sierra Leone has been determined by the use of the intellect and exploitation of the prevailing circumstances.

In the process ,little attention has ever been paid to the dynamics of change inherent in the interactions of the traditional political, scientific and technological system, a phenomenon that is present in all societies ,hence the universality of knowledge and the principles of science and technology. For the sake of illustration, the technology or scientific principle behind the rope suspension bridges that found in Africa is the same as that used by the Norwegian engineer or the American engineer to construct a bridge that carries tons of vehicles.

To come to the issue, development in Sierra Leone has been limited by the conception or misconception that institutions and processes are predetermined and predestined by God and /or government. This is the underlying reason for the scramble for power and positions especially by the elites of the citizenry whilst the actual power lies in the hands of the foreign elements that have the strength to determine how the economy pulsates. For the Sierra Leonean power is when one is in a position to individually influence who things work when one is in an official position or rightly put a public office. In the process the unofficial or informal is undermined and neglected.

At the very basic level, agriculture has not developed to any appreciable level even though a lot of research and money has been put into it in the past. Where there has been any significant development, the benefit of this is today put into use by other nations. A case in point is the Masankay oil palm research that originated from Ribi in Sierra Leone and which is today profitably used by Malaysia.

Why did it happen that way? The answer to this all important question lies is the social thinking which itself is influenced to very great extents by the understanding of the origins of the religous,social and developmental factors of change mentioned inter alia.

Little or no premium has ever been put on developing the informal private sector in its intellectual, administrative and productive levels. The sierra Leonean social intelligence has failed to take cognisance of the fact that all things grow from small beginnings or rather that any effort ,however small or insignificant, will grow if and only if ,the necessary time and management needs are put into that effort.

Above all the Sierra Leonean mind, thinks and Acts individual-one man business or God for us all ;everyman for himself!

In the process, the necessary enabling instruments are lost and the cohesiveness in the political economy is incongruous with the demands of development.


It is never too late to start and like the Confucian philosophy states “the longest distance in a one thousand miles journey is the first step”.

Now that the institutions of democracy and political pluralism are being built in Sierra Leone, it is the place of the government to encourage, enhance and empower the maximum development and participation of the private sector in both the formal and informal levels.

This can be done with and in a multiple prong approach and it is in such researches and model building that the elites must take interest if Sierra Leoneans mean to make it better for themselves and their posterity.

Outside the governmental domain, Sierra Leoneans must and as a matter of urgency begin to think collective. Such thinking need not be explained by any economic principle other than the local principle of the”OSUSU” which translated can mean developing a local stock exchange or capital market ,with collective trust, to generate capital that will be invested by the stakeholders in enterprises that will contribute to the ultimate national wealth. Along or side by side with this such an approach can create jobs and enhance research at the specific national level it is required for. The implication of this is that a Sierra Leonean research database, that is unique and appropriate to the needs of the Sierra Leonean social IQ, will be developed with time and this will serve future generations.

Also, such a move by the private (Sierra Leonean) sector and with the enabling participation of the government will accelerate the creation and growth of the wealth of the nation as in as much as it will not exclude foreign participants it will empower locals to actively compete with foreign participants in the Sierra Leonean Economy.

By the participation and empowerment of the local private sector, not only by legal instruments but by capacity building assistance that is guaranteed by the government for any organised and registered corporate body of Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs and above all the prioritisation of local enterprise over foreign in the award of contracts and development projects and with the good will to perform demonstrated by these local enterprises as and when such contracts and projects are awarded ,then soon and very soon Sierra Leone will develop strong local entrepreneurships that can undertake projects without the government having to go for donor assistance.

This in principle is easily said but it can be done because where there is the will there is always a way and this is where consultants and consultancies can be useful!