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MIL OSI Translation. Government of the Republic of France statements from French to English

Source: MFIS in French

(Photo: Melba-agefotostock-Newscom)

David Lipton

on the 26th of February 2020

The visit to schools in sub-saharan Africa raises hope for the future, but also reminds us of the difficulties to realize this hope. I was singularly struck by this duality during my recent stay in Sierra Leone and Niger.

In Sierra Leone, the classes of the municipal school of Regent Square are a showcase for the ambitious program of the government to provide free education and of quality, in order to invest in the most valuable resource of the country : its children. The students are motivated, attentive and keen, but their education is hampered by the size of the classes, the work overload and the lack of teacher training, as well as a shortage of educational resources.

In Niger, the time is also change. In a research centre in the border of the desert of the Sahel, scientists are working on advanced solutions for the fight against malaria and climate change. But a few miles away, students of all ages attending school in schools that were built in straw, with tables in classrooms, but few textbooks.

The education and the technologies, drivers of change

Despite these difficulties, the importance given to education as the engine of change is impressive, as is the opening to the technologies to achieve this change. This attitude is promising for the future, especially if these countries manage to find new sources of funding, internal and external, and they make a creative use of technologies to overcome their lack of resources.

Sierra Leone is output in 2002 a decade of civil war and has embarked on the path of recovery. It has benefited from debt relief in the amount of $ 1.6 billion and is engaged in the exploitation of its vast reserves of iron ore. But in 2014, the Ebola virus has devastated the country, even as Guinea and Liberia neighbours, then the world prices of basic products dégringolaient. The Sierraléonais must now make up for lost time.

Today, the ambitious development programme conducted by the government focuses on investment in infrastructure and human capital. The technologies will be an essential element of the plan : the digitization will take place for example in the assessment of educational progress. David against moinina Sengeh, minister of basic and secondary Education, who also holds the role of director of innovation within the government, is one of the greatest african intellectuals. Holder of a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he has conducted work on artificial intelligence at IBM. He now runs the education portfolio in Sierra Leone, a domain that is absolutely critical in a country where more than 40 % of the population is under the age of fifteen years.

Invest in the future

Invest in children and education is a priority of the national development plan of Sierra Leone. This choice could potentially increase the GDP of 40 % over the next few decades and reduce income inequality. The impact would be immense in this country, where the GDP per capita is more than just the $ 500 and where half the population lives in poverty.

But how can a country identify ways to invest ? It is essential to increase taxes in a fair manner and strengthen the efficiency of public expenditure. Measures to improve governance, including fighting corruption, would be helpful on these two points. This is also an area in which the IMF is collaborating with Sierra Leone, providing training activities and other types of practical support in areas such as revenue raising and the management of the tax. It is interesting to note that the country is tackling some of these problems by developing technological solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Although the international community intervened during the crisis of the Ebola virus, the level of support has fallen back in recent years. For example, Rwanda and Mozambique have received assistance in the form of donations, equivalent to 8% to 9% of GDP in the decade that followed the end of their civil wars. But currently in Sierra Leone, this assistance does not represent more than 2% to 3% of GDP.

The difficulties of the Niger

Niger also faces immense difficulties. He knows since a few years a strong growth and is expected to start exporting crude oil from 2022. But it also presents the population growth rate the highest in the world : 3.8 per cent, with more than seven children per mother and high infant mortality. The development of the private sector, now in its infancy, and the creation of jobs are therefore a top priority.

Worse still, the Niger is facing two existential threats : the military conflicts and climate change, two issues that it shares with neighbouring countries in the Sahel region.

The armed conflicts in progress in Niger, under the blows of terrorist groups crossing borders with Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. On the economic front, for a country whose resources are already very limited, the large expenditure necessary security requirements complicate the situation of public finances, and absorb funds which could have been used in the development of Niger.

With an economy mainly agricultural, which depends on annual precipitation, climate change is for Niger, a reality that is very tangible. Temperatures in the Sahel will increase one and a half times faster than the global average, making rainfall unpredictable and shorten the rainy season. According to the United Nations, 80 % of the arable land in the Sahel are deteriorating.

The armed conflicts and climate change are issues that should concern the governments of the developed countries, who fear the rise of terrorism in North Africa and the influx of migrants from this region. These are common issues that directly relate to economic development to security, particularly in Europe.

The desire to reality

We cannot expect countries such as Niger and Sierra Leone, they are doing only. The Objectives of United Nations sustainable development requires the mobilization of national and international resources to meet the ambitious criteria set by the international community.

A single field visit is enough to understand at what point the desire for progress is great, and to measure the impact of any progress. With more resources, these countries could go much further still, and move from desire to reality.

*****

David Lipton is first deputy managing director of the international monetary Fund since 2011. Before joining the IMF, Mr. Lipton was special assistant to president Clinton and has held the position of senior director of economic affairs international at the national economic Council and the national security Council at the white House. He has also served in the Clinton administration, first as assistant secretary, then as under-secretary of the Treasury for international affairs. Prior to that, Mr. Lipton was the director general of Citi, and had held executive positions at Moore Capital Management, a hedge fund in the world, and previously, at the Carnegie endowment for international peace. Mr. Lipton has also been a master of research at the Centre for advanced studies Woodrow Wilson.

From 1989 to 1992, he teamed up with Jeffrey Sachs, then a professor at Harvard University, in the capacity of economic advisor to the governments of Russia, Poland and Slovenia during its transition to capitalism.

Mr. Lipton holds a phd and a master’s degree from Harvard University and a ba from Wesleyan University.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure is not be perfect.

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