Today the European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone signed a EUR 60 million / SLL 630 billion “Jobs and Growth Programme” to provide the much-needed boost to human capital-centred, sustainable development in these difficult times.
Difficulties to find a job or start a business, no access to finance or training and bad roads especially in the rural areas… these are some of the challenges to making a living in Sierra Leone. COVID-19 will make this already challenging situation even worse.
The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Mrs Jutta Urpilainen, said: “COVID-19 knows no borders. We all face the same risks. We are all in this together.”
The European Union is currently aligning its support to the Government of Sierra Leone’s “Quick Action Economic Recovery" Programme, and this is also particularly the case with the “Jobs and Growth Programme”: it will provide affordable financial services, better maintenance of rural roads, improved basic education as well as job-oriented training for young people and it will support women in starting businesses.
Following the signature, EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone Tom Vens said: “Today once more symbolises the partnership between Sierra Leone and the European Union. The EU stands with Sierra Leone in these difficult times. We may have to practice social distancing, but our solidarity just gets stronger.”
This programme will be implemented together with the Government of Sierra Leone and some of the strongest partners for development: the United Nation's Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Bank (WB) and GIZ.
Ambassador Tom Vens further announced: “Under the Jobs and Growth Programme, we are also already expanding our support to the fight against COVID. An additional EUR 5.5 million/ SLL 58bn has been earmarked to reinforce the Social Safety Net Program of the Government of Sierra Leone, which provides direct income support to the most vulnerable.”
Dr Francis Kai-Kai, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development and the National Authorising Officer said: “In addition to testing the resilience of our people and our healthcare systems, coronavirus (COVID-19) will have a significant impact on businesses and the economy. The Government of Sierra Leone’s response recognises that we must maintain economic stability and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 shock on businesses, jobs and households, while minimising the human toll of the disease. Our “Quick Action Economic Recovery Programme” aims to ensure essential commodities are available and maintain price stability, support hardest-hit businesses to enable them to continue operations, provide safety nets to vulnerable groups, support labour-based public works, and provide assistance for the local production and processing of staple food items. By aligning its support to the needs of our nation at this time, the European Union has demonstrated the strength of its commitment to our continuing development partnership.”