The long serving Country Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Sierra Leone, Dr Iyabo Masha, is leaving the country after the end of her five-year tour of duty.Ms Masha’s departure was made public by the presidency after she bade farewell to President Julius Maada Bio on Monday.
Iyabo Masha, a Nigerian, arrived in Sierra Leone about the same time the West African Ebola epidemic struck.
Sierra Leone was one of three countries, including Liberia and Guinea, hardest hit by the epidemic.
Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, who presented the outgoing IMF chief to the President at State House, spoke about the role she played in dealing with the consequent economic challenges the epidemic occasioned, including the collapse in the price of the iron ore, Sierra Leone’s main mineral export at the time, at a time when investors were running out of the country.
Ms Masha is notably credited for her effort in bringing back investors and the re-launch of the extended credit facility programme which was halted following a difficult relationship between Sierra Leone and IMF.
The outgoing IMF rep thanked the government for the partnership, noting that it allowed her to come to appreciate some of the challenges countries in Africa faced and how small changes in policy direction could make the difference.
“I appreciate the fact that even though there has been a change in political leadership, your government has decided to retain most of the counterparts who have been doing a great job and that is one of the reasons we have been able to get results,” Ms Masha told President Bio, according to a statement from the presidency.
“There are some challenges but the policy package here is very good and all we have to do is to ensure that we are reminded of some of the things the government made policy to implement,” she added.
“Sierra Leone has come a very long way. Life expectancy has increased greatly and by the time the next Human Development Index is undertaken, there will be very strong outcomes by what I have seen in education. I have had the honour to work with a very strong team here that reflects gender balance. I believe in a very few years to come we will see a truly transformed country,” she ended.
President Bio hailed the IMF official for her part in stabilising and helping the growth of the country.