Tunis, 17 October 2005 - The African Development Bank (ADB) Group and the government of Sierra Leone have signed agreements under which the country will receive 27.7 million Units of Account (UA) (US$ 42 million) in grants from the African Development Fund (ADF) to finance economic recovery and health development programmes.
The Vice President of the ADB Group in charge Central and West Region Operations, Mr. Bisi Ogunjobi and the Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Libya, Dr. Mohamed Samura, signed the two agreements in Tunis on Monday.
The first agreement involves a grant of 10.7 million UA to finance the Third Economic Rehabilitation and Recovery Programme (ERRP-III) in Sierra Leone. The grant was approved by the Board of Directors of the ADF on 27 July.
The second agreement is for a grant of 17 million UA to finance the strengthening of the District Health Services Project in the country approved on 7 September 2005.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Ogunjobi said the two interventions "will permit the bank to continue its support to the country's imports requirements to meet the post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction needs, and to assist the country improve the health status of all Sierra Leoneans and contribute to the attainment of the MDGs".
He commended the efforts being made by the government towards resolving the problems faced by the Bank's portfolio in the country. However, significant problems in project implementation, mainly due to issues relating to delays in submitting documents for loan effectiveness, low disbursement rates on ongoing projects and in some cases, non-conformity with procurement procedures that have led to allegations of corruption from some stakeholders and the national press, Mr. Ogunjobi said.
In is intervention, Ambassador Samura expressed the "appreciation of the Government of Sierra Leone to the Bank Group for the immense support it has rendered to the country in its developmental efforts since 1969," saying his country has made significant strides in consolidating peace and rehabilitating the extensive socio-economic infrastructure destroyed during the conflict.
The ERRP-III will complement the on-going reforms initiative now being undertaken by the Government with the support of other development partners, especially the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Department for International Development (U.K.) and the European Union.
The District Health Services Project aims to improve access to health services for the population in the districts of Bonthe, Bo, Kenema, Port Loko, and Tonkolili. It will also reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
"Today's ceremony marks yet another milestone in the strong collaboration between the Bank and Sierra Leone, spanning the period of over 30 years, and brings the total Bank Group commitment to Sierra Leone to UA278 million (about US$420 million)," VP Ogunjobi said.