Sierra Leone and Liberia should implement policies that guarantee lasting peace or risk slipping back to instability, a new report warns.
The Fragility Report by the London-based International Growth Centre (IGC), says the two Mano River Basin (MRB) countries were still vulnerable and fragile, warning that failure to undertake appropriate actions could lead to serious problems in the future.
The authors of the report, which was co-launched on Tuesday by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, says institutional independence was “absolutely” critical to ensure the countries developed their resilience.
IGC, based at the London School of Economics (LSE) and jointly operated with the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development.
Launched in 2008, the centre aims to promote sustainable growth in developing countries by providing demand-led policy advice based on research.
IGC is governed by the LSE-Oxford Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, co-chaired by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Dr Kaberuka.
The Rwandan economist told a pre-launch session in Freetown that while international aid would be crucial, any chance of success depended largely on the role played by locals.
"The first step is security, which requires a large degree of locally-led rebuilding of trust," he said, adding: "confidence generated by domestic businesses is what will spur foreign investment, not vice versa."
IGC is headed by Prof Jonathan Leape who, alongside Mrs Sirleaf, symbolically presented a copy of the report to Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio prior to the official launch.
Mrs Sirleaf, who was president of Liberia from 2006, stepped down earlier this year after12 years in office. She was succeeded by her longtime rival George Weah.
The Nobel laureate and the only woman to have won the $5 million Mo Ibrahim Award for achievement in African leadership, is a patron of the IGC. She told reporters in Freetown that the report contains issues common to the two neighbouring countries and she hoped both governments would see reason to heed its recommendations.
MRB is the basis of the Mano River Union (MRU), a sub-regional bloc initially created by Liberia and Sierra Leone and later joined by Guinea.
MRU seeks to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural advancement through integration of the people.
Since its revival in 2004, following years of inaction due mainly to the civil unrests in the region, the block has admitted Cote d'Ivoire as its fourth member state.
All four countries experienced unrests within the last three decades.