Africa's Politics Sierra Leone

OUTSTANDING IN AFRICA

Momoh Konte
Konte: A Sierra Leone’s Business Magnate steps Up to Stop Ebola

The last thing you want to hear is Ebola in your hometown.  Few will deny that it is a moral obligation to do everything possible to fight Ebola, a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with a strain of Ebola virus. The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Momoh Konte, a successful businessman who lives in Washington, D.C, is not a medical expert. He runs TransTech International, which has an office in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He recently used his money and organizational skills to fight Ebola. He can gladly say that his district of Koinadugu remains the last one in Sierra Leone to be Ebola-free due to his excellence organization skills and his philanthropic spirit.

First up is a visit to his office and you will realize that his company is doing a wonderful job helping privatizing telecommunications in Sierra Leone? The answer is yes. The nature of his business organizational skills led him to making an important observation about the virus, “The whole idea is it’s not killing rich people, it’s not killing middle-class people — it’s killing poor people who move from one place to another looking for work or something to eat.” Konte is what I call an example of a wave of success that businessmen are bringing in the continent of Hope, Africa, in the days to come. In June, Konte traveled to Koinadugu– which is the largest district of Sierra Leone’s 14 districts and has a reported population of  265,000 residents — with large drums of chlorine, face masks, thousands of rubber gloves, and a plan. This idea of largest disctrict jogs one’s mind of what could have arrived if Konte hadn’t stepped in to keep his district Ebola-free. Magnanimously, he donated 10 million Sierra Leone dollars (about $2,300) on a monthly basis to the area in order to replenish the items he initially traveled with.

As any experienced business leader might know, his second move was to create sets of task forces and to incite local leaders. The Washington Post reports that, “Konte’s first step was convincing district politicians, along with the important traditional tribal leaders, that they could not wait for help. And he needed their support.” His persuasive attitude and his willingness to spend money were the main key in organizing a district Ebola task force. He gave each of the 10 members a stipend and appointed a former Doctor without Borders official, Fasineh Samura, as the leader of the task. Even if his first step was very critical, he managed to enforce restrictions on the mobility of residents outside his district.

The Washington Post reports, “The strictest measure was to draw a ring around the district and restrict who went in or out. The mountains helped. But so did checkpoints, where guards stood armed with thermal thermometers and chlorinated water — and a pass system that prevented most residents from leaving. Visitors needed a local resident to vouch for them. Not surprisingly, the “pass laws” weren’t very popular, with some even maligning the new measures over radio.”

And so far, Koinadugu hremains a disease-free district, despite seeing nearby communities, such as Makeni, continues to be ravaged by Ebola. Let’s congratulate Konte on his incredible effort

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