SIERRA LEONE’S HISTORY IS ITS STRONGEST POWER. —- Independence message to Sierra Leoneans.

BY
AMB. FOUAD KANNEH

During one of my international trips, an Italian acquaintance who I met in New York USA asked me what is Sierra Leone best known for? She went further to say she knows that Sierra Leone is naturally one of the richest countries in the world, that she knows about the diamond and blood diamond story behind it. She said what more will I tell her that will make her want to come to Sierra Leone. My mind immediately resonates on so many things including our education system, entertainment, sport but since there is nothing much to write home about and I wanted to be real to her as much as I could, my first response to her was this: “can we walk to Times Square because I don’t think our discussion will end anytime soon”. That was my first response. After all, I felt like I needed enough time to think about what to say to her because in as much I was pursuing the interest of my country at the international level, I also wanted to be real as much as I could. So since Times Square is one of the most famous places in New York, and since that was the first time for both of us to visit New York, she gladly said yes and we both immediately jumped in our phones for google map direction as we decided to walk to the place.

I ended up telling her so many good things about Sierra Leone including our beautiful beaches, the way the mountains surround the capital city and the kind way Sierra Leoneans accept strangers. She said to me “from your response, everything you have told me about Sierra Leone comes naturally to Sierra Leone and Sierra Leones. What more can you tell me that will make me want to come to Sierra Leone?” At that point, I understood that what she wanted to hear was what we have achieved as a country. So I also went further to explain a whole lot and even affirmed to her that Sierra Leone is one of the most peaceful and democratic nations in World as we have democratically exchange powers to different parties twice since independence. I closed by saying, with all these, the best thing that will make anyone want to come to Sierra Leone is our “History”. The history of Sierra Leone is enough to bring people in because it is the strongest thing we have left as a country.

Our history is our strongest power.

The greatest problem in Sierra Leone is not poor education system nor a poor health care system. It’s not even the economy. Our greatest problem is unbelieve. Many Sierra Leoneans including our leaders don’t even believe that Sierra Leone will catch up with the rest of the world in terms of development. So our bad economy, poor education system, poor health care system are just a resultant of our unbelieve. Until we believe that Sierra Leone can make it before all of those things can be corrected. Many health care and education systems have been erected in Sierra Leone mostly by our development partners and we are the very ones that are destroying those structures. Unbelieve! So the problem is not the absence of the systems or structures, the problem is the way our mind behaves.

How our mind behaves?

This is the country where young people will spend their entire lives in school believing that they are stupid.

This is the country, where a student will graduate with a degree in agriculture and the person, joins unemployment queue to find a job so he can sit in an office rather than going to the farm.

This is the country where our leaders don’t trust the very health care system that they are spending so much money to build. They rather take the country’s cash from the economy, go abroad and spend the money in another economy for a medical check-up. And they will later come and say our economy is bad.

This is the country where the salary of politically appointed workers is 20 times more than the salaries of all the supporting staff combined and they will later wake up and say the supporting staff (civil servants) are corrupt when of course they set the stage for the civil servants to engage in corrupt acts.

This is the country where many of the courses offer and skills provided to students in university are not in-demand-skills for the present market and policymakers will wake up and say the unemployment rate is higher, what else do they expect?

So the reason for our 59 years backwardness is not the lack of structures or systems, because to some extent, the systems are there, some structures have been provided mostly by our development partners but we are the very ones destroying them. So it tells us even if every Sierra Leonean is taken out of Sierra Leone and the country is built to European standard, if we are brought back to the country we will destroy everything we meet. Simply because many don’t think multiplier, we compete when we need to collaborate and we sabotage when we need to support. So the problem is not the lack of system or structure. The problem is the way our mind behaves.

To correct that, we need to go back to history as it’s our strongest power left. Because the old folks who once ruled and reduced the status of this country didn’t know what they didn’t know. Now let’s focus on the little ones and make them believe that they are the ‘Future Leaders of Today’. Let’s remind them the country rests on their shoulders. Let’s remind the younger ones that Sierra Leone was once named the ‘Anthem of West Africa’ because of our then leadership role in education. Let’s remind them that most of the great leaders in Africa acquired their first tertiary education at the Fourah Bay College, in Sierra Leone. Let remind them that decades ago, Africans were running to Sierra Leone to acquire education as Sierra Leone was the hub for education.

Let’s remind them about all the lost glories so they will build their strength upon them. Let’s make them believe that Sierra Leone was once the greatest in Africa and we still have enough time to be the greatest not just in Africa but the world as a whole. Let’s make them understand that the word ‘Sierra Leone’ does not mean the land or soil that we step on every day but we the people living on the land. Let’s take ownership, solve problems and act responsibly so politicians will not have the gut to play on us. Sierra Leone is not divided. It’s the politicians that are making us believe that we are divided just to gain political scores. Until your mind behaves right before you understand that Sierra Leone is very united.

So when I told that young Italian researcher in New York that if she wants to come to Sierra Leone let her come because of our history, this was what I meant.

Happy 59th Independence Day to all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.

Sierra Leone will rise very soon but only if we believe.

Yours truly,
Amb. Fouad Kanneh
Internationally acclaimed SDGs & Youth Ambassador

COVID -19 & FINANCIAL INCLUSION IN NIGERIA BY ONYEKA AKPAIDA (T h e G o o d, and T h e N o t – S o – U g l y. )

By
ONYEKA AKPAIDA

No one envisioned the world would be at a standstill for 6 weeks, much less experiencing a global pandemic; in an unprecedented manner, COVID-19 decided to show up regardless.

The economic disruption of this pandemic will largely come from ‘’aversion posture” taken by people to avoid contracting the virus. These include government-imposed lockdowns, business closures, and reduction in activities by people which will inadvertently affect all sectors of the economy and translate into reduced income for suppliers, lower wages, unemployment, and a lower standard of living.

Bringing it home, our 2020 fiscal budget revenue assumptions were made with a $57 per barrel benchmark; however, the crude oil price dipped as low as $20 this month.

This is worrisome to me as we have been unable to sufficiently set aside buffers against these daunting economic challenges.

It is my hope that coming out of this pandemic, Nigeria is able to commence a dogged economic diversification

drive.

The estimated number of financially excluded adult Nigerians as of 2018 was 36.6m and given the lockdown situation following the pandemic, many financial services providers are unable to implement planned projects in terms of onboarding customers. It is obvious that Nigeria will not be achieving her 2020 financial inclusion goal of reducing exclusion by 20% from 36.6m to 19.9m adult Nigerians.

Statistics from Global Findex also show that a lack of regular income is the major reason for financial exclusion and it is inevitable that the economic impact of the pandemic which includes loss of income particularly with adults that earn daily wages will not do us any favours in closing this gap.

This article will be addressing the impact of the pandemic on Nigeria’s financial inclusion drive and recommendations to stakeholders- fintech, social enterprises, and government on how best to mitigate and innovate in the short and medium-term.

Although the effects of this pandemic are going to hit hard in the short and medium-term; there is ample opportunity to cushion the effects by getting the most vulnerable adult Nigerians financially included to give them access to the opportunities highlighted in the recommendation section of this article.

The Not-So-Ugly (Covid-19 Impact) Remote Work: This is inevitable as many bricks and mortar financial service providers have to swim against this tide that is in uncharted territory. The banks are sequestered and so are the customers; financial service providers are leveraging on every office and communication tool to keep work going. You can find us in front of our computers with the webcam on having your ‘beloved’ Monday morning meeting with your line manager trying to explain why you have been unable to land that customer. Loans & Lending: There will definitely be a surge in the requests for loan facilities to meet up to daily and expensive demand of staying at home; I can imagine most lending institutions and apps are inundated with loan requests given the ease of getting credit in less than 5 minutes. Loan default is guaranteed as some workers have been laid off, and those who earn daily wages in non-essential sectors will be unable to meet up with their repayments. The good news is the Central Bank of Nigeria has directed that moratorium be given to credit facilities and most financial service providers have taken a consumer-friendly position by providing up to 3 months moratorium to ease the burden on borrowers. The Central Bank of Nigeria has also directed that interest rates on all applicable intervention funds be reduced from 9% to 5% (be sure to check that your bank has done it.) It is also expected that lending institutions will reduce the credit limits of customers to mitigate default.

Mobile Money

Mobile Money Usage: Following the lockdown measures and call for social distancing, most transactions will be conducted via mobile banking apps and agents to cater to under-served and peri-urban communities. According to EFINA Access to Finance 2018 Survey, Mobile money usage increased by 2.2% from 2016 and we expect these numbers to increase exponentially by the end of 2020 with the lockdown being a key catalyst. Leveraging the use of USSD offline technology, it has become easier reaching the under-served with affordable banking services as it does not require internet usage. We expect to see growth in the Access to Finance 2020 survey statistics on mobile banking usage in the areas with previously high financial exclusion rates.

The Good (Recommendations):

There is a huge opportunity for new players in the financial inclusion space irrespective of your business location- Urban centers or rural communities and if you are passionate about under-served communities, there are over 28 million excluded people in this demography. Reduction in barriers to entry by regulators in the financial inclusion space such as high cost of fees will also encourage more players and ultimately bring us closer to Nigeria’s financial inclusion goal of achieving a 20% reduction in the excluded population by 2020. Kenya’s largest Telco announced a fee waiver on M-Pesa, the country’s leading mobile money product for 90 days to reduce the physical exchange of currency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak following a directive from Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to explore ways of deepening mobile-money usage to reduce risk of spreading the virus through physical handling of cash. Implementation of such measures will use digital finance as a lever to influence social distancing, P2P transactions, and financial inclusion in an infectious health crisis. Fintech and Social Enterprises: There is an opportunity for fintech companies to innovate and go beyond payments and transactions. One of the many effects of the pandemic and lockdown measures is an increase in illnesses especially in rural and densely populated households/communities where social distancing is nothing but a pipe dream. This is the time to collaborate with health management and pension organisations to develop a product that caters to the vulnerable and under-served. Micro & SME Businesses and Households Nigeria with over 37 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for over 84% of the jobs in the country; the Central Bank of Nigeria, taking the 48.5% contribution of the sector to our GDP, introduced the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) in March 2020 as a stimulus package to support households and MSMEs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This facility will be disbursed through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) with a reviewed maximum amount for MSMEs now pegged at N2.5mm (formerly 15mm) and a moratorium period of up to 1 year. To date, 80,000+ number of applications have been received and you can access the guidelines and application via the NMFB website https://nmfb.com.ng/ There is also a need for a membership/association system to be created for hawkers and roadside sellers who fall under the category of micro-businesses to access to facilities such as the COVID relief for affected businesses. The association will be responsible for disbursement, monitoring, and repayment of the facility.

Government Agencies As it is, the government is fast losing the trust of its citizens as the stories from the implementation of social protection programmes are highly discouraging. Although we are in a too little too late situation, I will still recommend that the government makes financial inclusion and biometric registration an essential part of its social registration process. This will reduce the risk of paying “ghost beneficiaries” as each person registered will have the BVN as a unique identifier. In the US where there is a stimulus package for citizens earning less than 75000 USD. Eligible citizens are now receiving $1200 monthly support. 7 eleven (a Walmart competitor) and Mastercard created a card with an account behind it to quickly capture the excluded and reduce their wait time to receive the stimulus by several weeks when compared to the post-delivery option.

About the Author Onyeka Akpaida is a financial service professional with 9+ years of experience in financial inclusion, consumer-centric digital banking, and public sector engagement in a top tier leading International Bank, a verified mentor at mentor X-Africa and the founder of Rendra Foundation where she works to promote financial inclusion for low- income and migrant women in northern Nigeria.

Mentorship and Succession: the most neglected aspect of Leadership

By
Dr. Alfred Mbeteh.

Leadership is a vital concept with numerous connotations. For instance, Maxwell defined it as “having a genuine willingness and a true commitment to lead others to achieve a common vision and goals through positive influence”. Similarly, Dr. Myles Munroe referred to it as “the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose”.

However, to narrow this down, for the purpose of this article, leadership is defined as the ability to influence people to passionately pursue a vision now and beyond the current leader’s tenure. Implicit in this definition are the two most important roles that differentiates between great leaders and leaders who only occupy a position: Mentorship and succession.

The word méntoras (μέντορας), the Greek word for mentorship originated from the classic poem ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer in 800 BCE. The poem describes a character, Odysseus who was the King of Ithaca. Odysseus was preparing to live his kingdom for Troy and decided to find someone who can act as a friend, teacher, and adviser to his son, Telemachus whilst he was away. The name of that guardian was Mentor.

Therefore, to mentor simply means to replicate oneself in another. It is a process of carefully imparting the key skills and qualities of a mentor into a mentee.

Mentorship is the relationship between the mentor and the mentee where the former teaches the latter on how to effectively maintain and enlarge the vision of the former.

Similarly, the term succession is a Latin word for successionem that simply implies to follow after or step into the shoe of another. It is the process of effectively planning the handing over of a leadership position to a well-trained mentee. Succession is one of the only few words in the dictionary with the word SUCCESS. Thus, succession is the successful handing over of a leadership position to a successor (mentee) in order to successfully carry on the vision of the mentor (leader).

However, Mentorship and succession have been the most neglected aspect of leadership. A lot of organizational and political leaders have held unto power for the longest of time and when they do let go, there is always a struggle to find a perfect replacement.

But why do leaders hold unto power? Why can’t they simply plan their succession by mentoring others? The answers to these questions, the author believes are anchored on two key pillars:

1) the core values of the leader that he or she has acquired from his or her environment and

2) his or her lack of understanding of the importance of Mentorship and succession.

In the worldview of the great Italian writer, politician, philosopher, and historian, Nicole Machiavelli “It is much safer to be feared than loved,”. Implicit in this worldview was the advocation for manipulation and cruelty as the best strategies to be a great leader and hold unto power for the longest of time.

Machiavelli postulated that the utilization of deceit and the killing of the innocents, is a sine qua non to attain and maintain power? His doctrines were predominantly practiced by ancient and medieval leaders.

Decades after, the author of ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ (shown in figure 1) Robert Greene built on Machiavelli’s worldview by propagating what seems to be the most ruthless view on leadership.

Figure 1: The 48 Laws of Power

Some of the key laws that may have consciously or subconsciously led to the neglect of leaders in mentoring their followers are:

Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions.

Law 6: Court Attention at All Costs.

Law 8: Make other people come to you – use bait if necessary.

Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you.

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victims.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally.

Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability

Law 18: Keep Others in Suspended Terror.

Law 20: Do not commit to anyone.

Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following

Law 42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter

Law 43: Work on the hearts and minds of others.

Taking Law 11 in particular “Learn to keep people dependent on you” it is clear that Greene is suggesting that leaders shouldn’t empower their subordinates. They should rather keep the core secrets that help them to attain and maintain their position away from their followers. In fact, Greene specifically asserted that you should “never teach them enough so that they can do without you”. Simply keep them wholly dependent on you and you became more powerful and feared.

Thus, philosophical leadership theories postulated by Machiavelli and Greene has transcended the minds and actions of most leaders even today. Most leaders believe that teaching a follower to take on leadership roles will only help to weaken their current power base. They believe the best way to stay in power is to widen the gap between what they know and what their followers know.

However, 21st-century leadership requires a complete overhaul of the Machiavellian philosophical values. Leaders need to develop values that are in congruence with mentoring their followers to take on leadership positions. Leaders need to understand that Mentorship and succession are naturally built into the leadership function.

Mentorship allows leaders to find their successful replacement. Mentorship makes it possible for a leader to delegate activities thereby reducing their workload. To mentor is to understand that there is leadership potential in every follower and that it is the responsibility of the leader to harness that potential. Leaders don’t therefore, need to have their followers dependent on them, they simply need to empower them for a successful succession.

In order to effectively mentor and plan for a successful transfer of power from the mentor (leader) to the mentee (follower), the following six key strategies embedded in what the author calls the MENTOR’s Model can be utilized:

M: Mobilise the greatest of your followers into a MASTERMIND GROUP

E: Continuously ENGAGE them on your broad vision

N: NURTURE them with tips and advice on a continuous (Kaizen) basis

T: Provide regular empowerment TRAINING programs in the form of workshops, seminars, etc

O: Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART) OBJECTIVES and delegate part of your leadership function

R: REVIEW their performance on a regular basis

In conclusion, with the ever-changing world, meeting the needs of current and future challenges requires an exemplary leadership style that is rooted in effectively planning for succession through Mentorship. Leaders should understand that their greatest achievement lies not in the number of infrastructural facilities they build, but rather the number of followers they helped. make leaders. In essence, Leaders should simply build people, not buildings.

••••

About The Author

Dr. Alfred Mbeteh is a Researcher, Entrepreneur, Author, Lecturer, and Motivational Speaker (REALM).

Read more here https://alfredmbeteh.com/about

IS OUR YOUTH- BULGE PHENOMENON GRADUATING INTO SOMETHING LETHAL?

SIERRA LEONE, ITS HIGH TIME YOU LOOKED AT YOUR PROBLEMS NOT AT FACE VALUE.

By
Raphael Marrah

As if the challenges of COVID-19 are not enough, every day in Sierra Leone is beginning to appear like we are in a war situation. Battles, or so-called “political violence “mainly orchestrated by its youths against the very state they had sworn to serve. In just about ten days we witnessed a plethora of skirmishes rite across the country that left almost close to fifteen people dead; more than the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus during the pandemic’s initial ten days in Sierra Leone. From an attempted prison break to the burning down of police stations and hospitals, a marauding gang of youths has made it a duty to undo every semblance of peace that the country has been struggling to maintain. But this is not only starting today. We have been here before time and again thus justifying why it goes against sound reasoning to suggest that the current spate of violence perpetrated by renegade youths is aimed solely at the current governance system.

It is not enough that we refer to them as “misguided youths”. It is never enough that we call them “common peasants or prostitutes”. It’s equally not enough to suggest that the bulk of them are “ravaging drug addicts”. Let us for once go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves pertinent questions as a country. What options there are for the average Sierra Leone youth? As Christians will say, “If there is a man to pray, there is a God to answer”. I will say if there is money to steal from state coffers, then there is a way to get our youths out of their current predicament. If a single cabinet official in the last administration can take the advantage of building himself a three million United States Dollars house in this day and age and with state resources, then there was money to build and equip state of the art skills training centers for every youth in this country that can’t go to University. Our youths are not engaged. And what do they say is an idle mind? ” the devil’s workshop”.

What we are experiencing as a country is not political violence, what we have at hand is a youth -bulge situation that we have not as a country done justice to solving. An ever-increasing youth population that has been offered very little livelihood alternatives by those whose duty it has always been to provide them with one. I am not talking of a fancy lifestyle where every youth in Sierra Leone is to be provided with the luxury of driving a Lamborghini Veneno. I am talking of innovative solutions wherein, for example, the seas of TOMBO are flooded with 150 to 200 fishing vessels, a project that is properly designed possibly through a Public-Private Partnership(PPP) arrangement, the management of which is left solely in the hands of the private sector for it to maximize profit and replicate itself. Today, fish landing sites built by a certain multinational organization exist in known riverine communities of Bonthe, Shengeh, Tombo, and Goderich. The last time I checked, these facilities twelve years on seem obsolete with no proper plan in sight for them. These could have been facilities producing sardines for Sierra Leone and with export potential to neighboring Liberia and Guinea employing a minimum of ten thousand youths. These are all viable youth options to an already youth- bulge catastrophe that is waiting to happen.

The average Sierra Leone youth I will say is not trigger happy. They have got lives to live and that they will do with whatever means possible even at the expense of losing their own lives. Think about it, when was it the last time you saw a 30-year-old youth who has got a university degree and is working or is a professional carpenter/ plumber got arrested during a so-called “political violence”? Aren’t they youth as well? They sure are! But the only difference is that whilst those youths who are our usual suspect get arrested more often than not, the privileged youth have got options in life and those options they have learned to guard jealously and cannot be persuaded into perpetrating violence for what so ever reason. During our recent lockdown, a group of youth managed to cut the water pipe leading to my home. My first natural predisposition was to go get the hell out of them (that is if I was even man enough) for cutting the pipe that I bought with my hard-earned cash. Then it dawned on me how our “it’s none of my business” type of attitude towards our youth and the broader society, in general, continues to put us in harm’s way. These were youths who had galvanized themselves into fetching water for others in the neighborhood for a fee albeit in the wrong way, but who cares to do things in the proper way when survival is at stake? These guys were in a lockdown situation and with no food, neighbors had food but didn’t have water –the very basics of necessity at home because of a broken infrastructure that is not of their choosing. So everybody had a need in that situation and a dare one too, I had to negotiate with them to fix my pipe when they Were all done.

Our current youth- bulge situation is creating a case of what Joseph Hills of blessed memory called ” the poor sharing their poverty with the rich because they have failed to share their riches with them” Until and unless we realize that it is not ok to be at ease in our luxury apartments and take pictures of idle youth around street corners. Until we accept the fact that it is a security risk to all that we have worked for if our youths are not further engaged until that day comes when every youth out there is catered for by the state not on the basis of the region they hail from but on the basis of the fact that the state owes it to them, we have a ticking time bomb waiting to manifest and in a grand style.

Why you should. #ChallengeYourWorkplace?

by Jilo Katter

by Jilo Katter

With the dust seemingly settling on the tidal wave of Black Lives Matter protests and calls for policy changes in the UK, my question has always been what next?

Unlike our American counterparts, the protests in the UK do not present the very real threat to life from colour-skewed police brutality.

Apart from possibly being trampled by a police horse, the most you will encounter may be a papercut from holding your placard for so long.

Again I ask what is next?

Some organisations took part in #BlackTuesday, some sent out tick-box statements of support for the Black Lives Matter matter, some created focus groups to support their black employees.

But how many have made real policy changes and practices WITHIN their organisations to squash the ugly head of racial discrimination black employees face on a daily basis?

Kudos to those that have done such – please @this_is_jilo on Instagram and let me know who they are!

Unfortunately, it really is not in their interest to do so much is the veil of institutional racism in the UK.

However, if you are exchanging your time, talent and intellect to serve ANY organisation, that value AUTOMATICALLY makes it a priority interest.

After all, the salary you receive is in exchange of the aforementioned qualities (and more) not abuse via stereotypes of music or sports entertainers you ‘look like’ or micro-aggressions accusing you of being ‘aggressive’ or ‘intimidating’ when you are simply expressing your point.

Or am I mistaken?

When reflecting on occasions where you’ve faced such discrimination, (which I’m sure has happened on more than one occasion), apart from chanting ‘woo-saah’ in your mind becasue workplace violence is frowned upon, did a colleague or anybody else speak up for you or was there a silence?

THAT is the real workplace violence.

THAT is the reason why you should #challengeyourworkplace.

Unless of course you have no issue with the above.

That is why I created the #ChallengeYourWorkplace template.

A template letter encouraging all those wanting to be a voice of change within their area of influence to challenge their workplace to update their diversity and inclusion training with mandatory training on racial discrimination and matters pertaining to the black employee in the workplace, including how to be an ally within the workplace and beyond.

The real riot against racial discrimination begins by using our voices to challenge our places of influence.

The real riot against ignorance is education.

Are you going to #challengeyourworkplace?

If you are inspired please download the Challenge your workplace template below.

Jilo Katter is a friend of Jesus, Global Co-ordinator and Authentic Voice Coach who teaches on how overcoming heart issues releases your authentic voice to live your best life!

WHAT IS MENTORSHIP

Mentorship is a key proponent of growth, but one of the most difficult tools to have. Getting the right mentorship at the right time in your journey can make your life and journey way better. At Mentor X-Africa we provide expert solutions mentorship by connecting you with experts whose desire to mentor the next generation of leaders is a priority.