FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, May 29, 2017—Public and private sector leaders from across Sierra Leone and beyond met today in Freetown to discuss ideas, initiatives and partnerships that can spur private investment to unlock the potential of Sierra Leone’s economy. Meeting at the first Sierra Leone Development Finance Forum (DFF)—hosted by the World Bank Group (WBG) and the Government of Sierra Leone—participants identified constraints to developing a vibrant private sector and opportunities for attracting transformational investments that can make a positive impact on people’s lives. The DFF encourages the development of a pipeline of projects and programs by offering a pre-investment platform for the public and private sector to explore market-building alliances and opportunities in Sierra Leone and other countries throughout the region. “With the $75 billion mobilized for IDA, our fund for the 77 poorest countries, for the next three years in Africa and elsewhere, there is tremendous opportunity to significantly advance the development agenda, from education to health to infrastructure, and to proactively involve governments and especially the private sector,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Group Vice President for Development Finance. “I hope that Sierra Leone will take advantage of this unique package of support, which would help create jobs and new opportunities and make a difference in the lives of the people.” The DFF in Sierra Leone is one of three events taking place in West Africa the week of May 29 to explore ways to unlock opportunities for private investment, including through World Bank Group instruments. Other events are taking place today in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and June 1-2 in Accra, Ghana. “By addressing investor concerns about risk, scarce public grant and concessional funds can be used to mobilize private capital—particularly to sectors like energy, tourism, fisheries and agribusiness, where the job creation opportunities are large,” said Karin Finkelston, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. In the past year, several initiatives have been developed to crowd-in private finance for development and contribute to achieving the ambition of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. In December 2016, the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) completed a record $75 billion replenishment, a pivotal step in the movement to end extreme poverty. As part of the replenishment, the World Bank Group has developed a new $2.5 billion Private Sector Window to mobilize private capital and scale-up private sector development in the most challenging environments. “Concerted efforts like these not only have the potential to create jobs and reduce income inequality but can also help unleash the potential of Sierra Leone to contribute significantly to sustained economic growth and enhanced food- and energy security in West Africa,” said Parminder Brar, Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
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