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Sierra Leone News: Expanded access to internet increases economic growth

Team Sierra Leone

The World Bank Group observed the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Wednesday 17 October 2018, wherein the Bank used the day to draw attention to the goal of ending poverty by 2030, and what it will take to get there. The theme for this year’s event is: Africa’s Youth and the Future of Work. The 27 country offices across the African region were linked through a video conference from Washington D.C to discuss issues around poverty reduction and shared prosperity in Africa. Sierra Leone’s response to the question of solutions to poverty and job creation came from participant, Michaella Sallu, from Sensi Tech Innovation Hub. She said that expanding access to internet is needed but it is not enough. What is lacking is the emphasis on digital content. “What is needed is for Africa to invest in the digital media to help ensure that, expanded access to internet increases economic growth,” said Sallu. The only solution is for youth’s digital skills to be enhanced through the #Blog4Dev2019 Essay Contest, which was launched during the conference in Washington. The contest is meant for youths between the ages of 18 to 28 to have their say on building their nations and continent. “Africa’s exponential youth growth comes with immense opportunities for you to inject fresh ideas, vibrancy and optimism into addressing many of Africa’s challenges,” the Bank said. Based on what the individual countries did and what they heard from the panel to end poverty and to create jobs in the different countries were highlighted by the Manager Communications and Partnerships for the Africa Region, Stephen Shalita. From the responses that emanated from the different countries were the need for entrepreneurship, relevant educational skills with emphasis on reforming the educational sector with skills training to meet the needs of the job market. The issue of funding was a concern without which whatever development plans are discussed if there is no money it wouldn’t materialise. However, even with money, financial literacy was identified as a challenge because they will not be able to handle their books and achieving entrepreneurship will remain a dream. Data to inform business solutions was identified and underlined in the country report. Having the right data but also having access to data, bringing in the whole question about data, technology and agriculture. Similarly, the youths were also concerned about the importance of going back to values, soft skills and the values that the continent have that will move the agenda very fast. Africans should be leaders of the change and not just followers and be empowered with complete access to information. In his opening remarks, African Region Vice President, Hafez Ghanem, said that uplifting Africa will only happen with it greatest asset empowered which is the youths. African economies have been growing and the proportion of poor people as a percentage of the total population has declined from 54% in 1990 to 43%. The percentage of Africans living below the poverty line, he noted, seems to be moving in the right direction, but when that happens people say it is a good result, “actually it is not” with the population growing faster at a decline of this poverty rate from 278 million people in 1990 to 413 million today, “so we have more people in Africa today than 20 years ago.” Ghanem said that this is not an acceptable trend and that there is need to do something with a change in approach, “it is not business as usual, it is not enough, so we need to invest now.”

ZJ/17/10/18

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Thursday October 18, 2018.

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