Letter to editor

The MCI and Sierra Leone Politics

25 September 2006 at 00:21 | 477 views

I will like to add............ another source of funds for development that others may not be aware of. It is the Milliniun Challenge Account (MCA). This is not "Aid" as we traditionally define "Aid and it is not a "Loan".

As all the three presidential candidates travel to Europe and the USA over the next couple of months to make their case why they should be elected as our next President, I will like to have an opportunity to pose some specific questions regarding their plans to take advantage of the MCA. So, for those who may be close to these candidates based on family or political affiliation, I will appreciate if you can pose these questions to them.

1. What plans do you have (or currently have) to get Sierra Leone to qualify for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)?
2. Do you already have a team to develop the proposals necessary to get funding from the MCA?
3. What projects are of the highest priorities that will result in poverty reduction.
4. Have you checked on all the performance indicators use to determine qualifications under the MCA and see where improvements are needed for Sierra Leone to qualify?

Currently there is a tremendous amount of goodwill from the rich folks in the west to help alleviate poverty in developing countries (Bill Gates and Warren Buffet dedicating > $50 Billion to projects in poor countries, Clinton Global Initiatives, etc). However, these are not "Aid Money". Governments have to show progress to qualify and until Sierra Leone starts generating more revenues than expenses, we need to do all it takes to capitalize on these types of opportunities.

For those who are not familiar with the MCA, this is an account set up by the Bush Government in 2002 (and funded by Congress) to fund projects in poor countries that meet specific performance measures. I have posted at the end of my email a summary of a list of the performance measures used. Even without the opportunity to get free funding from an organization like MCA, any serious political leader in Sierra Leone running for president can just take the entire list of performance measures as their proposal to the Citizens of Sierra Leone for why they should vote them in. They should specifically address how each of these performance measures are going to be improved upon during their elected term. So knowing that if these performance measures are met, the country can get some serious funding for development projects, I cannot see why any leader should not take these performance measurements as a way to move the country forward.

Ghana, Mali and Benin are the only countries from sub-Saharan Africa who have met the conditions to qualify for these MCA grants referred to as "Compacts". The US Government has set up a 250 person Washington DC based Corporation called the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) that will manage these grants and ensure that proposals that result in award of these grants are utilized on programs to reduce poverty. On August 1, 2006, the President of Ghana and his Team were in Washington DC to sign the largest "Compact Grant" awarded to date by MCC. Ghana’s award is for a whopping $547 million to improve their agricultural program and include projects to build roads, water and sanitation facilities. Ghana’s proposal consists of the following:

Agriculture ($241 million): The largest of the three components is designed to enhance the profitability of commercial agriculture among small farmers.
Transportation ($143 million): This component is designed to reduce transportation costs affecting agricultural commerce at sub-regional and regional levels.
Rural Development ($101 million): This component is designed to expand the availability of basic community services and to strengthen rural institutions that provide services complementary to, and supportive of, agricultural and agri-business development.

This quote below is from MCA Monitor. Our politicians should use Ghana’s compact proposal as an example to follow (after they meet the performance measures).

Ghana is expected to sign the largest MCA compact to date—upwards of $500 million over 5 years—by the end of July. It will be the most ambitious and complex MCA compact yet, a test of whether the MCC can deliver transformative development. Ghana is a star among MCA countries, having passed all six governance criteria three years running, and it serves as an anchor of economic and political stability in West Africa. The proposal apparently takes seriously the MCA’s raison d’Ítre—poverty reduction through economic growth. In the words of a senior MCC official, the Ghana proposal, "is one of our most directly linked" in terms of ensuring that economic growth involves and benefits the poor. Success in Ghana could be a boon for poor people there and for the MCC. Failure could undermine US development assistance more broadly.

More details at this link http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/mcamonitor/fieldreports/ghanafield

The link below gives a Summary Fact Sheet of Ghana’s projects -Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Building a Partnership for Poverty Reduction Through Economic Growth


This link below to a speech by the MCC CEO provides a good summary of the MCA program and specifically the Ghana award.

This link is to Ghana’s proposal web site set up specifically for developing the Compact Proposal and it is very impressive. This link is shown below.


Do not get me wrong, the performance measurements are stringent. However, if any Government is serious about the development of Sierra Leone, meeting these requirements will be a top priority.

The performance measures are listed below: You can go to this link and see charts of Sierra Leone for period 1995 top date (and compare with say Ghana) to see where we are for each of these measures. http://www.mca.gov/countries/rankings/FY06/index.shtml

Politicians should realize that there are analytical ways to measure how they perform on specific areas and if they do the right thing, the rest of the world will take note and will results in moving the country forward.

So, please forward this email to our leaders if you can. As a minimum it may give them something to talk about as they campaign.



Civil Liberties: A panel of independent experts rates countries on: freedom of expression, association and organizational rights, rule of law and human rights, and personal autonomy and economic rights. Source: Freedom House.

Political Rights:
A panel of independent experts rates countries on: the prevalence of free and fair elections of officials with real power; the ability of citizens to form political parties that may compete fairly in elections; freedom from domination by the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies and economic oligarchies; and the political rights of minority groups.

Source: Freedom House.

Voice and Accountability:
An index of surveys rating countries on: institutions’ ability to protect civil liberties, extent of citizen participation in government selection, and media independence. Source: World Bank Institute.
Government Effectiveness: An index of surveys rating countries on: quality of public service provision, civil service competency and independence from political pressures, and the government’s ability to plan and implement sound policies. Source: World Bank Institute.
Rule of Law: An index of surveys rating countries on: the extent to which the public has confidence in and abides by rules of society; incidence of violent and non-violent crime; effectiveness and predictability of the judiciary; and the enforceability of contracts. Source: World Bank Institute.

Control of Corruption:
An index of surveys rating countries on: the frequency of “additional payments to get things done,” the effects of corruption on the business environment, “grand corruption” in the political arena and the tendency of elites to engage in “state capture.” Source: World Bank Institute.


Cost of Starting a Business: The Private Sector Advisory Service of the World Bank Group works with local lawyers and other professionals to examine specific regulations that impact business investment. One of their studies measures the cost of starting a new business as a percentage of per capita income. Source: World Bank Group.
Inflation: The most recent 12 month change in consumer prices as reported in the IMF’s International Financial Statistics or in another public forum by the relevant national monetary authorities. Source: Multiple.
Fiscal Policy: Overall budget deficit divided by GDP, averaged over a 3 yr. period. The data is provided directly by the recipient government but is cross checked with other sources and made publicly available. Source: National Governments and IMF WEO.

Days to Start a Business: The Private Sector Advisory Service of the World Bank Group works with local lawyers and other professionals to measure how many days it takes to open a new business. Source: World Bank.
Trade Policy: A measure of a country’s openness to international trade based on average tariff rates and non-tariff barriers to trade. Source: The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.
Regulatory Quality Rating: An index of surveys that rates countries on: the burden of regulations on business, price controls, the government’s role in the economy, foreign investment regulation and many other areas. Source: World Bank Institute.


Public Expenditure on Health: Total expenditures by government at all levels on health divided by GDP. Source: National Governments.
Immunization: The average of DPT3 and measles immunization rates for the most recent year available. Source: The World Health Organization WHO.
Public Expenditure on Primary Education: Total expenditures by government at all levels on primary education divided by GDP. Source: National Governments.
Girls’ Primary Completion Rate: The number of female students completing primary education divided by the population in the relevant age cohort.

Source: World Bank and UNESCO.