Many Sierra Leoneans who were watching the US presidential election wanted a Clinton victory. The reasons for this vary. Some wanted to see the first female president of the greatest democracy on the globe and some others thought Donald Trump lacks the moral values to rule America and lead the world. November 8 came and the Americans decided.
Many Sierra Leoneans were shocked to hear Trump on November 9 addressing the people as president elect. The bitter rectories in the campaign period made many think or believe that a Trump presidency will impact on all the economies in the world including Sierra Leone if he wins the White House.
In his campaign messages, President-elect talked about reviewing trade agreements and deals, be tough on immigration, getting the jobs that had been outsourced back to America and address some of the issues dealing with aid.
The place of America in the world today goes beyond the country’s domestic interests and we may transpose the sentiments said in the 19th century about France in continental Europe to America’s place in the world – “When America sneezes the rest of the world catches cold.”
Looking at the fear being expressed about Trump’s presidency though he has not taken the oath of office yet, it still remains fear and nothing else at least on the economic front. There are no signs yet that his presidency will drop remittances from the US to Sierra Leone, force the country not to use the US Dollar as our reserve currency or lower commodity prices like iron ore further that will worsen our economy.
The volume of remittances from the US to families and friends is huge as the highest population of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are in the US looking at opportunities like the diversity visa lottery. Unlike Liberia that reports on remittances in their budget, that is kept a closely guarded secret and not reported on in the Sierra Leone annual budget. There is a growing fear among people that Trump is going to deport all Africans who have settled in America. This is basically misquoting Mr Trump. In his campaign message of draining the swamp, he stressed that those who are in America illegally will be sent back to their countries of origin. His emphasis was on people entering and staying in the US illegally to be deported. Even with that the numbers are falling from 11 million and currently at 3 million. He wants immigrants to follow the path to US citizenship using the statutory method.
Until he occupies the office in January, there is no evidence yet to support some of the assertions made by street bureaucrats who believe that there is no hope outside America that Africans will be deported from the US hence a drop in remittances. In fact some of the voters in the election were originally from Sierra Leone but now hold US citizenship.
Last week the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone Dr Ibrahim Stevens responded to a question on what Sierra Leone was planning to do with regard to its foreign currency reserve with Trump stepping into the Oval Office. His response was that the central bank has not changed its position on its foreign currency reserve. The reserves wold be kept in Dollars and there is no plan yet to keep some of those reserves in the Chinese RMB. The Chinese RMB is now one of the reserved currencies in the world. The Dollar is still the unofficial second currency in the country.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) country representative Dr. Iyabo Marsha see a boom ahead for a country like Sierra Leone if Mr Trump effects his infrastructure rectories to build roads, bridges and more. Construction increases the demand for iron ore and other commodities. Days ago, commodity prices like iron ore moved slightly upwards probably a sign that the Trump presidency might spark a construction boom in America.
There is a growing fear among Sierra Leoneans that aid to Africa and scholarships from America will drop considerably. These speculations are untrue. Religious charities will continue to support African communities. The US will fund the activities of USAID. The US knows its role on the global stage and doing otherwise will not just reduce the country’s super power status, but will hurt its economy. China is doubling not just its presence but increasing its support to infrastructure projects on the continent; Sierra Leone has been one of such beneficiaries.
Perhaps President Trump will awaken African leaders to address the issues of corruption and work more for their people than self. Many African leaders come to office with little in their name with high hopes of building better economies for all. By the time they leave or are forced out of office sometimes by popular revolt, they are owners of mansions with some in the names of their drivers and relatives. The ordinary people hope that Trump will take them to task for stealing the wealth of their nations.