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UK Development minister says President's Recovery Priorities are "ambitious, realistic and

In his first official visit to Sierra Leone as a minister, Nick Hurd MP, the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, has described Ernest Koroma’s plan for Sierra Leone’s economic recovery as “ambitious, realistic and necessary” saying that it will bring profound change to the country, which is recovering from the double impact of Ebola and the crash in commodities prices. In an exclusive discussion of the President’s Recovery Priorities, he said: “Business as usual in Sierra Leone is not good enough for the country to recover and achieve what we all need it to achieve. The President’s vision is to take the energy, momentum and drive that Sierra Leone demonstrated as a people to defeat Ebola, into some of the other development challenges the country faces. The British Government has heard the message clearly and we have come to the table with a big package of support.” The President’s Recovery Priorities represent a multi-stakeholder programme of investment into education, energy, governance, health, private sector development, social protection and access to water. It is led by the Government of Sierra Leone, and is intended to drive sustainable socio-economic transformation in Sierra Leone following the twin shocks of the Ebola Virus Epidemic and falling commodities prices. The UK Minister said that Britain’s partnership with Sierra Leone had been characterised with some big successes: “Helping end the civil war, the painful and difficult journey to contain and control Ebola, and now it is as important to our partnership to support the President’s Recovery Priorities. “What we like about this plan is that the President has set in place a process of implementation that is going to be accountable to the people, with explicit targets in key areas - whether in terms of energy access, lives saved, improvements in the health system, or the key infrastructure which is needed in the country.” A key goal of the President’s Recovery Priorities is to double access to power by 2017. Nick Hurd, who was also in Sierra Leone to sign a compact agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone to promote the use of solar power, said renewables could play an important role in delivering that objective. “We can add a lot of value through Energy Africa, which is about bringing household solar systems, particularly to communities which otherwise might have to wait a long time to be connected to the grid. Sierra Leone is blessed with many things including a lot of sunshine. The technology is there to turn that sunshine into reliable and increasingly affordable energy. This technology has become more affordable. On Wednesday I was proud to sign, with the Honourable Minister Macaulay, the first compact that the British Government has with another country. Ninety percent of the country still does not have access to energy and this is a sign of how determined and energetic Sierra Leone’s government is being in correcting that wrong. “These are the profound changes that we want to be part of helping to deliver in Sierra Leone, so that when President Koroma’s leadership comes to an end, the nation will want to carry on forward and not slip backwards.”

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