Tony Blair today chaired a roundtable session with local business leaders to discuss the issues that are holding back economic development in Sierra Leone. This is part of a longterm program by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change to support the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) with their policy development. Their work with government leaders across Africa has resulted in dramatic improvements in the lives of millions of poor people in the areas of access to health services, education, and electricity.
Bheki Chatira, GM of Sunbird Bioenergy (SL), highlighted how our bioenergy project in Makeni has created employment for nearly 5,000 workers and currently supplies Freetown with much needed power. Furthermore, the project has has the capacity to increase the supply of power from 10MW to 30MW and create economic opportunities for more than 20,000 small-scale farmers, particularly for women and youth. Bheki outlined that the low level of capitalisation of domestic banks made it challenging for them to fund such large projects, and that it was difficult to engage international banks with a fragile developing country. Other business leaders present reported how the lack of power was holding back the development of their businesses, as well as excessive government red tape.
The Institute works to provide policy and strategy in support of a vision of globalisation designed to improve the well-being of the people, economically, politically, and socially, with a focus on tackling the big challenges which hold such a vision of globalisation back:
- Poor governance which stops the benefits of globalisation being shared because countries cannot build the institutional strength and resilience to transform their situation and deliver for their people
- Extremism which stops the co-existence and cultural open-mindedness essential for social integration
- Conflict which entrenches sectarianism and paralyses progress, particularly in the Middle East
- Western politics which is in urgent need of a new agenda to provide radical but sensible answers to the new challenges presented by globalisation, technology, and the rise of a new false populism.
The Institute’s work on effective governance is born from the work formerly undertaken by the Africa Governance Initiative and Tony Blair Associates – Government Advisory from 2008 until 2017. In the last decade, they have worked in 20 countries across the world, and their Private Sector Development and Inclusive Growth Practice has worked in nine countries across Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia – providing essential support to countries seeking to foster inclusive growth and create jobs for their growing populations.