New Year’s Message from His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the New Year usually beckons hope and a strong yearning for the fulfillment of our aspirations.

As Sierra Leoneans across the country gather with family and friends to celebrate, I want to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2017. The New Year has come upon us with the promise of bright days ahead. It has come upon us with the assurance of an economy on the path of full recovery. With more investments in agriculture, fisheries and small manufacturing, the evidence now points to a positive and steady growth trajectory. With the better prices in the international market, we are attracting more and stronger investments in our iron ore mines and other extractives, indicative of a boost to our exports earnings. We have also acted to improve on our own revenue generation, reviewed public expenditure, and sought support from our friends and partners to help in our recovery programme.

Every Sierra Leonean has had to make some adjustments and sacrifices – from the fisherman at Funkia to the farmer in Buedu; from the petty trader at Abacha Street to the bike rider in Pujehun and our compatriots in the Disapora –Sierra Leoneans have shown great resilience and have been at the forefront of discussions and actions to turn this country around. I believe that the Sierra Leonean goodwill is second to none and in this season of goodwill, I say thanks to you all.

I thank you for the support you have given to our recovery priorities; I say thank you for the support you are giving to us to reposition the economy back to the better times we had before the last two difficulties. We are not yet there, but we are doing what is required to achieve our goals. In agriculture, our support is making our farmers cultivate more, produce more, and earn more. We will continue to promote value addition, support local content and access to finance in the sector. With these actions, national and international experts are telling us that we could surpass our own targets of creating 10,000 new jobs in the sector.

We are also investing more in education; building more schools, establishing more universities and rebuilding Fourah Bay College. We are training more teachers, reviewing and developing relevant content, providing more incentives to both pupils and teachers and implementing quality assurance mechanisms in our schools. Our National School Feeding Programme is gathering momentum with instant positive impact on school attendance and retention and in the local economy.

In the health sector, we will continue our efforts to build a resilient system, with new hospitals, more qualified personnel and specialists, and a better referral system, with more ambulances and more state-of-the-art equipment. With your continued support, we will scale up nutrition, improve on health service delivery, and continue to support the most vulnerable among our compatriots. We are taking similar actions to double access to energy, increase access to safe drinking water and to justice so that electricity, pipe borne water and the rule of law are not only limited to our capital and the major towns. The rural communities where most Sierra Leoneans live must also enjoy these social services.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, as we celebrate the New Year with these better prospects; as we make new resolutions, and set ourselves new targets; we must also back our hopes and determination with actions that will ensure the accomplishment of our new resolutions. This is why, by mid 2017, we will review the austerity measures we are implementing and we will reassess the progress we have made under the Recovery Priorities to determine where we are and to define our new actions going forward. We owe it to ourselves and to posterity to do what is right for the development of our country and I believe we will get there, sooner.

We have shown the world our resilience, our ability to pull together in times of adversity and our determination to succeed against all odds. We can do it again; but we must approach national issues with considerations that transcend partisan affiliations, and we must adopt the imperatives that put Sierra Leone first in our actions. As Sierra Leoneans, our destinies are bound together and our fortunes are intertwined. The school enrolment of a child in Kamakwie in the North, may in the future, translate to the availability of one more doctor in Gbondapi in the South. The safe delivery of a child in a Community Health Centre in Kailahun in the East, could translate in the availability of a lawyer in Waterloo in the Western Area. My Government therefore counts on your attentiveness towards our development programmes; we rely on you to help in the monitoring of projects in your chiefdoms, in your constituencies and in your districts. In the end, the achievements of any government are achievements for Sierra Leone. My government’s ambitious infrastructural drive is to the benefit of every region; our improvements in access to energy, clean water, justice are to the benefit of everyone.

We have put policies and institutions in place to ensure a sustainable economic turn-around but we can only achieve this when we abandon the mentality of leaving government in the hands of government officials. We will continue to build roads but our success will be limited if we continue to use the drainages to dump trash. We will continue to empower the Anti Corruption Commission, but you can also help our fight against graft when you decide not to pay any bribe, no matter the interest at stake. We will continue to train and equip our military and police to keep us safe, but you will enhance their job when we choose to report on irregular activities in our neighborhoods, discourage violence and promote peace by adhering to the rule of Law.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, soon, our national electoral processes will begin. There will be several aspirants seeking political office; debates will go on, tensions may rise but whatever you do; you must never lose sight of the fact that Sierra Leone is bigger than everyone; it is bigger than every group and every political party. We therefore owe it to ourselves and to our future generations to stay together, to work together and to build this our beloved nation together.

With hard work, determination and resilience, we have established our country as a united, peaceful and democratic nation. With hard work, determination and resilience, we were able to establish our economy among the fastest growing economies in the world. With those same attributes, we are overcoming our current challenges; our economy is rebounding strongly and with your continued support, we will build Sierra Leone to a better and prosperous nation.
Happy New Year, God bless you all and God bless Sierra Leone!

SPEECH AT THE 190THANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS OF FOURAH BAY COLLEGEBY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE AND CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SIERRA LEONE, DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA

Protocols

We are at the cross roads of celebration and deep reflection on the current status of our alma mater and the prestigious position we wish it to regain. Sierra Leone owes much of its educational laurels to Fourah Bay College, once the greatest bastion of western education in sub-Saharan Africa. Our country became a hub of quality education in Black Africa; foreign nationals came to compete with Sierra Leoneans for the limited space this great institution had to provide. Erudite academic scholars, astute lawyers, outstanding engineers and eminent lecturers across Africa owe their measure of success in life to Fourah Bay College. This mark of achievement came by no mean feat, from the era of dedicated White administrators, to the period of affiliation with the Durham University, to the institution’s devolution to competent Sierra Leonean proprietors, the college was every bit the envy of outsiders. As a pivotal learning institution, Fourah Bay College earned Freetown the name Athens of West Africa in reminiscence of the calm days of Greek dominance in learning in the ancient world.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have witnessed a glorious past with distinguished administrators and tutors who inspired students both in the classroom and outside, and who would not compromise academic standards any day of their lives. Great academics like Dr. Eustace Palmer, fondly called Dr. P inspired every student who studied in the humanities in the ‘70s. I witnessed an era when we had a conducive learning environment, well-stocked library and an excellent teaching staff. The canteen system was in full operation with three meals a day for every student. We even had an official dinner once a month.

Mr. Chairman, it is this feat of accomplishment that we are here to celebrate—190 years of academic journey. Sierra Leoneans hark back to much of this period with an air of pride and see it as a benchmark of our country’s success story. But interestingly, in this modern day of top-notch technology and internet connectivity, when learning is by far easier nowadays than bygone times, we have to put up with the nostalgia and the difficulty of trying to fully understand “Why the college’s performance should be rated better in those days than now?” In solving this riddle, we need a critical retrospection of where we stumbled and a thorough introspection of how we should pick ourselves up, dust off and move on to a bright future.

I am sure there are several areas to look into and lessons to learn from; because the history of this great university mimics the history of our nation. Its challenges have been Sierra Leone’s challenges. The past few decades have witnessed upheavals in our university calendar. Stints of war, political instability, the outbreak of epidemic and financial crises in our nation have had their toll on the operations of our foremost university college and the effect has been enormous.

The college has not been able to meet its full potentials owing to these external factors. It has had to close down in some instances in the past few decades, upsetting the learning calendar. As a result of these challenges, it has not been able to perform so well in international rankings and the prestige and glory our darling college has been slowly waning. It is sad to note that the college once revered by all in Africa is now a pale shadow of its old self.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, whilst we attribute the decline in standards to external factors, let us also look inward for approaches and behaviors, and for actions or inactions that are inimical to the progress and aspirations of the college. Owing to the increase in the enrollment of students, the student population has expanded considerably but the college lacks the infrastructure to accommodate this increase. Maintenance of the college buildings was long compromised. I therefore urge the university administration to improve on the job of running the university – in providing more classrooms and sitting accommodations for students, in ensuring that the buildings are well painted and the lawns taken care of. We want to see more international linkages and exchange programmes with other universities. We have to improve on the oversight on Fourah Bay College and the drive to get things done with excellence. All these require concerted efforts from the students, the administrators and the alumni association.

My Government remains committed to improve on the access to and quality of university education. We noted the dilapidated state of the university’s infrastructure and through the Ministry of Education we signed a contract with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) for the rehabilitation and expansion of Fourah Bay College campus.

The Ministry of Finance has facilitated series of internal arrangements relating to the rehabilitation process and so far, as all of you here can see, the project implementation is on full throttle. Once again government will rehabilitate Fourah Bay College campus and hand it over to the university authorities. But while we hope that this rehabilitation drive will translate into better quality education—a conducive learning atmosphere with proper hostels and a campus with high standards of environmental and health safety conditions – I will like to reiterated that this rehabilitation should be extended: the minds and habits of the people should also be changed in other to restore the lost glory of this great institution.

We have quite some distance to go but, with new spirit, with sustained commitment and with steadfastness, Fourah Bay College will once again sparkle on this historic mountain to shine the light of knowledge on the rest of Sierra Leone and beyond. On behalf of the entire University, I thank every single person in the academic staff and faculty, and our entire, incredibly generous community of supporters, for bringing us to this height.

I wish all Fourahbites fruitful 190 years celebrations. I thank you all.

Independence Message – 27 April, 2017 Delivered By His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma

Fellow citizens, today, once again, we celebrate the great event marking the decision of those before us to take charge of our destiny; to make our own laws, formulate our own policies and to implement our own programmes.

Today, we celebrate fifty six years of the freedom to manage our own affairs. It was a great decision and as a nation, we started well on the path of greatness. Then, we stumbled along the way, and the enthusiasm and joy of freedom and independence, shrunk. But collectively, we have reclaimed the vision that inspired our independence.

Since 1996, when we decided that enough was enough, that we must restore democracy and go back to the serious business of building our nation, we have never looked back. And in 2007, you gave me the honour to lead in this forward march to build the new Sierra Leone. It was a mandate to build more schools, establish new universities, build more roads, more hospitals, and to generate more electricity. It was a mandate to improve access to pipe borne water, to improve access to justice and to help the less privileged amongst us to get out of poverty. It was a mandate to consolidate the peace, to strengthen our democracy and to work together in building of a better Sierra Leone.

Fellow citizens, this is my tenth and final independence address as President of this great nation. In my almost 10 years of service as your Head of State, I am proud of what we have achieved together. We have experienced a decade of uninterrupted stability in governance. Rated the most peaceful country in West Africa and the sixth most peaceful in Africa, we have demonstrated to the world that we are a peaceful and stable nation, and a nation that is ready to move towards prosperity.

We have experienced difficult times; yet we have demonstrated resilience that is unrivalled and courage that is unsurpassed. Our policies have attracted an unmatched record of foreign direct investments into our country, resulting in the employment of many of our young people particularly in the extractive sector. And owing to those actions, we have witnessed a corresponding double digit economic growth.

We have established three universities in just nine years and this year, we will establish two more universities including one in the Eastern region. We have further taken affirmative action to provide free university education for persons with disabilities and for female students studying in the sciences in our universities. We have achieved gender parity in primary schools, considerably increased enrolment in junior and senior secondary schools, reintroduced the National School Feeding Programme and government is on track in providing subsidies and subventions for schools and colleges.

We proudly recount the establishment of a national free health care programme for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children under five years, the delivery of cash transfers to vulnerable households, the provision of seeds and other inputs to our farmers, the establishment of the Legal Aid Board and we are on course to establishing a free national ambulance service. With all of these achievements, our social protection is gathering pace and we are ensuring that the quality of life of our people is on the rebound. Even when we were compelled to retrace our steps, we readily put together and implemented a recovery programme that is becoming a blueprint for other countries.

And our health sector is picking up again: more hospitals and community health centres are emergingin urban areas andin remote communities, and we are training and bringing in more specialists and equipment to better serve our people.

Through our road infrastructure transformation programme, we are connecting our farmers to markets, our towns to our cities and our country to neighbouring states.

With the construction of mini hydro dams and the installation of thermal plants and solar technology; many more people are accessing electricity in Freetown, in several major towns and in rural communities where there had been no electricity for over three decades.

For the first time in more than three decades, we are restoring pipe borne water to many parts of the country through the reconstruction of water works stations in all district headquarter towns, and in several other major towns including Bo, Kenema and Makeni.

We also recount our deliberate efforts towards gender and youth empowerment. With the gender – sensitive legislations we have enacted, the youth – focused institutions we have established and the unprecedented high level of participation of women and young people in governance; we have set our society on the path of a more inclusive, fairer and brighter future.

Fellow citizens, our experiences have taught us the need to get tracking systems in all growth sectors; to get accurate data and to record our progress. We have therefore conducted a national census and we are implementing a national registration process to guide our development programmes.

The records show that our democratic credentials remain ever more commendable. We are reviewing our constitution, strengthened our transparency and accountability mechanisms, opened up the media space and the voices of civil society actors are becoming louder. Every now and again, majority of Sierra Leoneans conduct their affairs in keeping with the tenets of democracy and good governance. We vote in a peaceful manner, practice our religions with tolerance and allow each other’s political space. That is who we are – a peace-loving nation.

Next year, on March 7, that peaceful disposition will be put to the test once again. We will vote for our next set of leaders to carry on with this renewal. In doing so, we will have to protect the asset of stability which we have collectively developed. We must continue to allow the rule of law to prevail, adhere to the regulations of our political parties and respect the right of others to participate in the electoral process.

Fellow citizens, in just a little over a year, my tenure will come to an end and I will graciously hand over power to my successor in a democratic transition. Yes, I will be leaving office, but also a legacy of transformation and of peace and of unity which we must all be committed to protect and build upon. We do not have another Sierra Leone and ours is a small country because we are a family of damiahs, ‘berankehs’, ‘komenehs’, of ‘Ngohs’, kothors and of ‘hemohs’. The actions of a compatriot in Koinadugu or in Kambia may have consequences for others in Bonthe, Kailahun and in other parts of the country. We must therefore thread carefully and treat one another with civility, restraint and compassion.

We are a
proud and resilient people and over the years, I have observed how
Sierra Leoneans have learnt to overcome challenges – of war, of disease, and of division. This is why, on this parting Independence Day, I am confident that our future is bright. As a nation, we will stride into a
brighter tomorrow and burnish our credentials as a symbol of
resilience, an example of perseverance and a beacon of hope.

Yes, Sierra Leone is rising again but to sustain this renewal, we must work even harder and more collectively to consolidate the peace, foster national cohesion and to generate more of our own revenue. This is everyone’s responsibility – it does not matter what political party you belong to, or what region you are coming from, or which language you speak – whether you are at the Ports, or at the customs, a coast guard or at the immigration office, or a mines officer or an officer of the law, a vote controller, a Member of Parliament, or a member of the public – the building of the new Sierra Leone requires our collective determination.

On this fifty sixth independence anniversary, I therefore entreat everyone to pay heed to the thoughtful words of our national anthem and our creed of Unity, Freedom and Justice.

I wish you all a memorable Independence Day celebration.

God Bless you and may God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Nigeria High Commissioner pays Farewell Courtesy Call on President Koroma

The outgoing Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Her Excellency Mrs. Gladys Modupe Quist-Adebiyi Friday, 28 April 2017, paid a farewell courtesy call on President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House in Freetown.

The outgoing High Commissioner presented her letters of credence to President Koroma on 13th February, 2014, marking the commencement of her diplomatic mission in Sierra Leone.

In her farewell statement, Mrs. Quist-Adebiyi congratulated Sierra Leone on her 56th Independence anniversary and prayed for continued peace and security in the country. She recounted significant gains that had been made on her promise to raising the level of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Sierra Leone for the mutual benefits of the two nations. She stated that the Ebola outbreak brought in several challenges as well as opened windows of opportunity in strengthening the country’s health system.

The outgoing High Commissioner commended President Koroma’s indefatigable statesmanship in leading the country to the path of development and transformation. “Your dream of a prosperous nation is on course,” she said. She expressed hope for a peaceful and successful 2018 elections and registered Nigeria’s commitment to standing by Sierra Leone adding, that the relationship between the countries is legendary.

Bidding Farewell, President Koroma commended the excellent relationship the outgoing High Commissioner has built and profusely thanked her for the role she played in the fight against the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in country. “You facilitated support and personally involved in the social mobilization across the country, we appreciate you very much,” he said.

President Koroma noted government’s commitment to the ongoing electoral process and emphasized that the elections will take place on time and with no delay. She also appreciated the support provided to the Office of the First Lady in supporting women’s and girls’ issues across the country. The President wished her the very best in her next assignment while assuring her that Sierra Leone will always be home.

New Human Rights Commissioners take oath of Office

Newly appointed Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) on Tuesday, 2 May 2017, subscribed to the oath of office at a ceremony at State House in Freetown. The three newly appointed commissioners are Mr Rashid Dumbuya, Rev. Dr Usman Jessie Fornah and Ms. Grace Coleridge-Taylor.

Congratulating the appointees, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said the commissioners were coming in at a time when the country’s human rights record is at its best since independence in 1961. He pointed out that the country’s human rights commission was upgraded to a class A status by the United Nations Human Rights Council, adding that Sierra Leone is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, indicating that it was as a result of the recognition of the significant gains and progress made to improve the country’s human rights record. “We can now boast of an excellent human rights record and for almost ten years now we have not had any political prisoner,” he said. He expressed hope that the incoming commissioners will show commitment to sustaining these efforts and hope that their experiences and qualifications will help them to discharge their duties and fly the flag of Sierra Leone.

On behalf of the appointees, Ms. Grace Coleridge-Taylor thanked President Koroma for the trust and confidence reposed in them and promised to carry out their duties with utmost diligence and to make Sierra Leone proud.

Liberian Ambassador Bids Farewell

The outgoing Liberian Ambassador to Sierra Leone His Excellency Mr Jarjar Kamara Wednesday, 3rd May 2017, bid farewell to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone at the end of his 1 year 8 months tenure.

He congratulated Sierra Leone on her 56th Independence anniversary and praised President Koroma’s dynamic leadership in transforming the country. Ambassador Kamara stated that Liberia and Sierra Leone are one and the same with similar ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds adding, that his tenure as ambassador has helped to increase sound bilateral relationship between the two countries. He recounted the excellent relationship he has had over the last two years particularly with Vice President Dr Victor Bockarie Foh. He also said he has been making frantic efforts to revamp the exchange program that existed between the two countries, while expressing hope for a peaceful 2018 general elections.

President Koroma said Liberia and Sierra Leone are sister states with a common history and culture. He noted that the two nations have succeeded in building the Mano River Union (MRU) to a point of having four member nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Cote D’voire. The Head of state acknowledged the excellent leadership of MRU Chairperson, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in handling issues of regional concern like the Gambian political impasse following President Jammeh’s defeat in the 2016 December ballot.

He pointed out that the tenure of Ambassador Jarjar Kamara contributed immensely in strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations and wished him the best in his next assignment.

President Akufo-Addo wraps up One-Day visit to Sierra Leone

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has wrapped up a one-day friendly and working visit to Sierra Leone during which the two leaders held bilateral talks aimed at strengthening relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Welcoming his Ghanaian counterpart, President Koroma recalled the long-standing relationship between the two countries and congratulated President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his victory at last year’s polls making him the fifth leader of the fourth Republic of Ghana. President Koroma described the relations between the two countries as outstanding and excellent.

The two leaders held extensive talks and expressed the urgent need for West Africa to focus on developing their economies, mobilize resources, provide indigenous solutions to local problems, develop a roadmap for strategic development and enhance the aspirations of ECOWAS, the African Union as well as leveraging South-South cooperation.

At a joint press conference with President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, the Ghanaian leader praised his host for restoring law and order and fostering the spirit of national reconciliation in the country. President Akufo-Addo described President Koroma as the man that has worked the talk, citing the economic boom that was experienced in 2013. He also stated that the two countries will work side by side for the progress and dignity of the two nations as well as enhance cooperation for trade and investment.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that despite the close relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone, there is no general framework for cooperation and therefore expressed concern over the delay in the ratification of the trade and investment agreement signed in December 2013. He made firm commitment to push the agreement for ratification by the Ghanaian parliament on his return to Ghana and called on the Sierra Leone Parliament to do the same.

President Koroma Receives Turkish Envoy

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma last Friday 26th May 2017 received a delegation from Turkey led by the Vice President of Maarif Foundation who also doubles as Special Envoy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey, Ambassador Dr Asson Yavuz at State House in Freetown.

Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma described his recent visit to Turkey as successful and expressed his satisfaction with the follow up action from the Turkish government. He described his Turkish counterpart as a man of action, saying that there is no doubt that Turkey is playing a significant role in the region.

The president informed the delegation about the recent visit of Turkish Airline to Sierra Leone, followed by a group of experts who examined the energy sector, while soliciting support for information and communication technology (ICT), education, health, among others. He assured the government of Turkey of making available a piece land for the construction of the Turkish Embassy premises, and reiterated the call for the commencement of operations by the Turkish Airline.

President Koroma welcomed the establishment of a Sierra Leone – Turkish Educational Center through the Maarif Foundation. The Maarif Foundation project covers primary to university education and the best students will proceed to Turkey for their higher degree education. He said a suitable location will be identified for the educational center and called for collaboration to fighting terrorism as it was not only a Turkish issue. He congratulated the people of Turkey for resisting the coup makers.

According to Special Envoy Dr Yavuz, Maarif Foundation is a Turkish Non-Governmental Organization set up by President Erdogan to provide educational support and replace schools abroad sponsored by Gulen movement. He pointed out that the delegation was in Sierra Leone to explore opportunities on how to enhance cooperation.

Dr Yavuz conveyed the profound appreciation of the Government and People of Turkey for the solidarity shown by the Government of Sierra Leone during the 15th July 2016 coup, adding that the coup makers wanted to assassinate President Erdogan.

“Infrastructural transformation is a catalyst for growth and development” – President Koroma

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today, Monday 29th May 2017, officially opened the Sierra Leone Development Finance Forum jointly organised by the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development held at the Bintumani International Conference Centre in Aberdeen, Freetown.

The theme of the event; “Unlocking Private Investment in Sierra Leone” speaks to the avowed mission of the World Bank – ‘Working to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity & development’. According to President Koroma, the forum resonates well with the essence of his government’s Agenda for Prosperity.

The president noted that although Sierra Leone has a deep-rooted culture of entrepreneurship and many opportunities for business and private investors, emphasis should be laid on job-generating ventures in the key growth sectors of energy, tourism, fisheries and agribusiness insofar as utilizing this World Bank facility was concerned.

“Informed by the new private sector window by the World Bank Group, beginning in July 2017—this bold and much needed initiative will help the Bank, together with their partners, to mobilize private capital and scale-up private sector development,” he said, and urged the Development Finance Forum to deliberate on the successes and challenges of mobilizing transformational private sector investment. He also expressed the need to explore opportunities for public and private sectors to develop market-building alliances that will scale up the amount of private finance available for investment in the country. The president therefore expressed hope that the new US$2.5 billion Private Sector Window will be allocated through a predictable and transparent decision making process to ensure equal treatment across member countries.

President Koroma further noted that inasmuch as government strongly agrees that grant and concessional resources can attract significant levels of private investment to the country, because of its propensity to address the concerns relating to risk-return, he however cautioned that “this must also be underpinned by aligning the public and private sectors with the shared objectives of unlocking the potential to create jobs and reduce income inequality”. “This way”, he said, “this bold initiative by the World Bank Group would contribute significantly to Sierra Leone’s sustained economic growth and enhance the country’s food and energy security; in tune with the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a clarion call for deeper collaboration by all actors involved in the public sector, the private sector, multilateral development banks and institutional investors.”

The Chief Executive pointed out that Sierra Leone’s highly favourable geography, with its abundant natural resources and young, diverse and tolerant work force provide the perfect investment destination for investors. He highlighted the efforts his government has made to improving the country’s road network, improving access to reliable electricity, as well as improving on the quality of and access to education and health services, adding that infrastructural transformation is a catalyst for growth and development.

He went on to note that the establishment of the Sierra Leone Investment Export and Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), the Public Private Partnership Unit (PPP) and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Agency is to ensure proper coordination in the private sector as well as to lead and promote private sector investment, saying that government has undertaken substantial reforms to make the country a strong investment destination which still receives a high share of Foreign Direct Investment in the region.

Vice president, Development Finance of the World Bank Group Axel van Trotsenburg said the Sustainable Development Goals was adopted in 2015 by the United Nations and that the international community wants to translate the SDG initiatives into action of which Sierra Leone will be a major beneficiary. He noted that fragile states require more attention for job creation, economic transformation and produce strong private sector activities. He added that the $ 2.5 billion will help to foster support for Africa and Sierra Leone in particular in its development and transformative path.

President Koroma and EU discuss Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the European Union today Monday 29 May held discussions on Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement at State House in Freetown.

Article 8 of the said agreement is an integrated framework based on partnership and promoting cooperation, trade and political dialogue.

Addressing the European Union delegation, President Koroma said the meeting explains and provides a clearer understanding of the agreement and practices. Moving forward, the president pointed out the importance of managing the country’s economy and making sure that government meets the 2018 electoral calendar. He declared the completion of the national voter registration exercise, delimitation of constituencies and districts and work in progress on the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources achieving export facilities to the EU Market, national Non-Governmental Organizations Policy, Female Genital Mutilation Policy, review on the National strategy on teenage pregnancy, land legislation that will attract both local and international investment, establishment of technical school for skills empowerment, review of the criminal libel law as well as working on an infrastructure on electoral security.

On the review of the Criminal Seditious Libel Law, President Koroma underscored the significance of continued engagement with relevant stakeholders and going through the process for the review of the said legislation. He noted that there was no plan to shutdown social media but clearly stated that government will respond appropriately to any threat that undermines the peace and security of the state. “We will take appropriate actions as a responsible government,” he said. He encouraged all to work together to close the elections funding gap of Twenty Million Dollars as well as support the ongoing national civil registration exercise.

The Head of the EU delegation in Sierra Leone, Mr Peter Versteeg expressed delight over the frank exchange of issues of national interest and reiterates EU’s support to the country. He welcomed the request of government to fill in an observer mission for the 2018 elections and thanked the Government of Sierra Leone for hosting the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Conference. He also encouraged Sierra Leone to participate in the Fourth “Our Ocean” Conference slated for 5th and 6th October 2017 in Malta and the next EU/Africa Summit scheduled to take place in Cote D’voire in November 2017. The British High Commissioner, Mr Guy Warrington and other speakers shared common sentiments on holding credible and peaceful elections in 2018, district boundaries delimitation, raising money to close the funding gap, improving the investment climate of the country, human rights and civil society among others.