CI VIEW: Sierra Leone and African leaders seek Western CEO intervention to curb Ebola hysteria

 

WASHINGTON (CI Africa)- (Updated Oct. 26 to include interviews with Rep. Danny K Davis (D-Ill) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)) – Sierra Leone Finance Minister Dr. Kaifala Marah said he is seeking direct intervention by leading private sector CEOs to help stem the humanitarian disaster and economic fall-out from the hysteria surrounding the Ebola crisis.

[Sierra Leone Finance Minister Dr. Kaifala Marah speaks to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at IMF World Bank Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on October 11, 2014]

In an interview with Capitol Intelligence during the IMF World Bank, Marah said irresponsible media sensationalism about the Ebola outbreak is severely hampering efforts by the three affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Conakry to bring the outbreak under control.

Marah noted that post-conflict countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia were experiencing strong economic growth and foreign direct investment until the outset of the Ebola crisis and the devastating impact it has had on their economies.

During the IMF World Bank annual African Finance Ministers news conference with his colleagues from Guinea Bissau, Kenya and Chad, Marah said Sierra Leone’s GDP growth will crumble to 3 to 4 percent from 11.3 percent.

“We are doing well on roads, on energy, on tourism, on agriculture, and FDI flows are also good. We are able to attract major companies. We have SIVA (bio energy), we have Socfin (agriculture), we have Goldtree (edible oil)… And recently we had Radisson,” he said, adding. “Then came Ebola in May and everything was reversed. Unfortunately, London Mining, one of the major iron ore companies is about to go down. So that has further exacerbated the situation. Manufacturing is bad. Sierra Leone Brewery Limited for example is set to lose 24,000 jobs and will affect 600 farmers that are producing Sorghum. Cocoa and coffee — which happens to account for 90 percent of agro export — is also at the bottom now. Why? Because people have abandoned their farms, everybody is running way from Ebola.”

Marah said that private sector companies such as Africa’s largest employer Coca-Cola led by CEO Muhtar Kent, Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and mining CEOs such as Rio Tinto’s Samuel Walsh can provide immediate help for Sierra Leone and its neighbors.

“Whether it though global (private sector) best practice or strategy, someone has to advise us: but it (Ebola) is really killing our economies,” said Minister Marah, adding that the economic fall-out stemming from western hysteria amounts to an “economic embargo” on the fragile economies of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

[Coca-Cola CEO Muthar Kent speaks to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at CEO Council of Health and Innovation at the Bipartisan Council in Washington, DC.]

During a panel at the IMF World Bank, Walsh noted that Rio Tinto is building in partnership with China’s Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a multipurpose 650 kilometer Trans-Guinean railway for a total investment of USD 20bn.

Even Kenya, which is less at risk than Europe or the United States from Ebola, has seen significant economic impact from the crisis, Kenya Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said.

“[Ebola] is also having a spillover to our regions. For example in Kenya we have had tourism cancellations. It has affected our growth.” Rotich said.  “We have revised our growth down this year just because of the challenge of the tourism cancellations we have received and also of course Kenya being a regional hub we’ve seen transportation being affected.”

In an interview with Capitol Intelligence, Guinea Bissau Finance Minister Geraldo Joao Martins said his country is trying to do its best to ensure that the Ebola crisis does not spread into his country.

Martins said that the Portuguese colony is very aware of the weakness of its healthcare infrastructure and is working to create contingency measures with the international community to prevent Ebola spreading.

 

[Guinea Bissau Finance Minister Geraldo Joao Martins speaks to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at the IMF World Bank meeting on October 11, 2014]

The negative impact from western hysteria was seen at the special hearing on Ebola called held by the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce on October 16, 2014 where a number of Republicans such as US Representative and trained nurse Renee Ellmers (R-NC) are calling for a total travel ban to West Africa following the death of American-Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.

 

[US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and US Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) speak to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at US House of Representative on October 24 and October 16, 2014]

At a separate hearing on October 24 held the powerful US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, US Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Capitol Intelligence that much more must be done by government and non-governmental organizations to ensure that failures such as the tragically late Ebola response not be repeated in the future.

However, Chaffetz did not see the immediate sense of transferring much of US AID in country duties to the US National Guard under the States Partnership program. 

In fact, experts universally agree that a travel ban would exponentially increase the risk of a global Pandemic as economic refugees would flee the affected areas through human trafficking networks that already have brought a veritable flood of illegal African immigrants to Italy and Spain via North Africa.

“Just imagine one of the boatloads of say 300 illegal immigrants arrive to Lampedusa (Italy)  infected with the Ebola virus,” a senior European law officer said.  “Italy, Spain or even Malta have nothing to prepare themselves to combat such a situation.”

House Energy and Commerce Ranking member Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said he opposes the travel ban and that such a ban would worsen the current situation.

 

[US Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and US Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) speak to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at Ebola hearings at US House of Representatives on October 16 and October 24 2014.]

US Representative Danny K. Davis (D-Ill) said all resources —   from  government and private sector — must be used to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

“It is my feeling is that for to those who have been given, much is expected in return, and much is required,” he said, adding: “If we can prevent one person, two people, ten people being Ebola stricken,  the positive impact of that becomes so great that you can hardly measure it in terms of costs.”

Congressman Davis’ district in Chicago, which encompasses the West Side of Chicago and the Lakefront, includes the corporate headquarters of Boeing and United Airlines, Neither Boeing CEO James McNerney nor United CEO Jeff Smisek have demonstrated any true corporate leadership notwithstanding the devastating impact the Ebola crisis is having and can have on the worldwide aviation industry.

While the United States have taken the unprecedented step of sending more than 3,000 soldiers to West Africa to deal with the current crisis, it is of equal importance that a clear post-Pandemic strategy be put into place, Cascade Biotherapeutics CEO and biological arms expert Joseph Curtis, Phd. said.

Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands already grabbed a leadership role in the Ebola crisis during the IMF World Bank annual meeting by hosting Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a gala reception attended by the largest investors in Africa.

Minister Okonjo-Iweala made a passionate speech on how Nigeria has already shown the way to stop the Ebola crisis in its tracks and warned that anyone hesitating from investing in Nigeria and Africa because of the Ebola virus will be a loser.

“The ship of economic growth in Nigeria has already sailed and anyone missing this boat will be left hanging on its oars,” she said.

One immediate resource for the White House appointed Ebola czar Ron Klain  would be the CEO Council for Health and Innovation co-chaired by  Coca-Cola’s Kent and Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam and prominent members such as Bank of America’s CEO Brian T. Moynihan and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini.

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By PK Semler in Washington, DC.  For information please call +1-202-549-3399 or email pks@capitolintelgroup.com