World Bank Country Director for Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia, Dr Robert Taliercio O’Brien, has paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and briefed him on ongoing discussion for a $65 million budget support and the bank’s funding for the energy sector in 2024.

He noted that discussions were mainly focused on reforms that would strengthen Sierra Leone’s fiscal consolidation efforts at increasing revenue from domestic sources through reforms on tax and non-tax revenues.

He said he would also engage the government on dealing with challenges in tackling risks associated with the energy sector by trying to make sure that there was an improvement in the performance of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority, EDSA.

Dr O’Brien, while paying special attention to the energy sector, briefed President Bio on areas of emergency support the Bank could provide to the government and help it address the immediate challenges faced by EDSA. He also advised the government on how to encourage private sector participation and support for the energy sector itself.

In his response, President Julius Maada Bio described the World Bank as a reliable partner in actualising the development aspirations of Sierra Leone, pointing out that its total portfolio for the country had increased in the last two replenishment cycles. He said the cycle comprised several projects in key sectors, including agriculture, energy, education, health, social protection, the financial sector, the digital economy, land administration, the business environment and Small and Medium Enterprise development.

The President highlighted the effects of persistent and overlapping shocks that had adversely impacted the performance of the country’s economy. He pointed out that global economic uncertainty, supply chain disruptions and higher food and fuel prices had all combined to undermine the stability of Sierra Leone’s economy. He revealed how the government had been able to navigate through those challenges and completed the final review of the country’s previous programme with the International Monetary Fund.

President Bio thanked the World Bank for the budget support to the government of Sierra Leone over the years, adding that both the government and the Bank had begun discussions for the 2024 budget support that would focus on fiscal management, energy sector risks, financial sector development and climate change.

President Bio assured the Country Director that as a Champion of the 21st International Development Association, IDA21, he would continue to push for strong replenishment to support transformational engagement and deliver results at scale in Africa and other low-income countries.