Busy day for President Ernest Koroma

By State House Communications Team :

Two new envoys have on November 28th presented their letters of credence to His Excellency President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at the Credentials Hall, State House, Freetown.

Receiving the Egyptian Ambassador designate  on the one hand, President Koroma noted that Egypt has been a friend of Sierra Leone since independence. “It is one of the very few countries that did not close its embassy even at the height of our civil war. We salute Egypt for standing with us”, President Koroma said.

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PRESIDENT KOROMA SHAKES HANDS WITH EGYPTIAN ENVOY

According to a State House report President Koroma told the new Egyptian envoy that Egypt is still standing with Sierra Leone, supporting the country with technical assistance in various sectors and providing training in fields as diverse as Law, Order and Security, Medicine, Anti-Corruption, Information and Communication, Technology, Agriculture, Diplomacy, Marine Transportation and Islamic studies.

“We have been closely following political developments in Egypt and we do hope that an amicable, fair and democratic solution would be found soon”, said President Koroma, and disclosed that government has commenced a new national development program, The Agenda for Prosperity (AfP), hoping that our historic friend, the Arab Republic of Egypt will stand with Sierra Leone to achieve the goals set forth in the AfP. “My country is amongst the fastest growing economies in the world and we seek the participation of the Egyptian Government, people and private sector in sustaining the growth to the mutual benefit of both countries”, he stressed.

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PRESIDENT KOROMA MEETS EU ENVOY

Welcoming the new European Union Head of Delegation to the country, President Koroma paid glowing tribute for the immeasurable support by the EU for the social, political and economic aspirations of the people of Sierra Leone, saying that the EU has been an invaluable contributor to our achievements in sectors as diverse as infrastructure, health, food security, agriculture, democratic good governance and strengthening of civil society.

President Koroma described Sierra Leone as a country on the move; “Our goal is to become a middle-income country in 22 years. We have commenced our Agenda for Prosperity, our development program for the next five years, with our sights on achieving this aspiration. We greatly value our partnership with the European Union; we believe it is a partnership for asserting the values of peace, democracy, and development; and we trust that this partnership will be a most valuable one for achieving the goals set forth in the Agenda for Prosperity”.

The Head of State also called on the new EU Head of Delegation to convey through his good offices, the new narrative of Sierra Leone, adding that the new Sierra Leone is one at peace with itself and its neighbours, and one that is contributing peacekeeping troops to other countries, a Sierra Leone that has one of the fastest growing economies in the world as well as building its infrastructure, providing free health care for its mothers and children under five, and leading Africa’s reform efforts at the United Nations.

Although we face challenges on all fronts, the President said, the country is committed to success, and we believe that our relationship with the European Union is a partnership for overcoming challenges through fidelity to democratic and development values.

The Egyptian Ambassador, Amr Moussa on his part, assured President Koroma of his government’s commitment to strengthening ties with Sierra Leone, saying “We are ready to assist Sierra Leone in various fields as we have done in the past. Our aim is to ensure that the Agenda for Prosperity achieve its goal”.

Peter Veersteeg, Head of Delegation of the European Union assured President Koroma of the EU’s continued close cooperation with Sierra Leone, by building on the current joint country strategy that addresses key objectives, including good governance, road transportation infrastructure, agriculture, health and the environment. “For the 11th European Development Fund, the EU Delegation in consultation with the National Authorities is proposing to concentrate its support for the period 2014 to 2020 on (1) Governance and public sector reform including capacity building for service delivery and revenue generation, security and justice; (2) Improving access to and quality of education; and (3) Increasing agricultural productivity, food security, governance and sustainability”, said the newly accredited EU Head of Delegation in Sierra Leone.

He also assured that additional support will be given to road infrastructure to improve the link between Freetown and Monrovia as well as promote regional integration.

The ceremony was attended by the Hon. Vice President, Alhaji Chief Sidique Sam Sumana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Samura Kamara and other cabinet ministers, senior government officials and members of the protocol division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In another engagement today , President Koroma successfully concluded a conducted tour of the Dedicated National Information Systems Project deployed at State House, to maintain its security character.

The president inspected the Surveillance System, Conference System, Call Demonstrations facilities and the equipment and battery room.

Before embarking on the conducted tour of the facilities, the Director of Communications of the host ministry, Mr Bakarr Tarawallie, gave a brief update on the project. He said that as a result of the realization by government in 2008 that its information system is highly vulnerable to attacks as well as the fact that it is a critical infrastructure to national security, government decided that there should be a dedicated information system in place to circumvent any such attacks by hackers.

“Government, therefore, contracted ZTE, a Chinese corporation to build this dedicated security infrastructure, which is a turnkey infrastructure that provides 5,500 mobile phones and 1,000 USB modems for both voice and data communications across government institutions”, Tarawallie emphasized.

He further noted that the system also has potential for video conferencing, surveillance system as well as a broadband distribution network. “This phase has been completed; that is why the president is here to inspect the progress made so far before the commissioning event”, he added.

The second phase will include other products like e-government applications and security surveillance system of our land and sea borders.

According to the Project Coordinator, Mr. Christopher John, the work force comprises 23 staff, including the Project Coordinator, 4 engineers, 12 technicians who were properly profiled, screened and trained both locally and in China, and other administrative and support staff.

Mr. John also revealed that the implementation of the project was kickstarted in January and completed this month, saying that there are 34 sites all over the country, including Freetown. “We are yet to cover the whole country”, he said, and pointed out that the project is “co-located with already existing operators who are helping us with power for our sites”.

Shortly after the conclusion of the well-guided tour of the Network Operating Centre (NOC) President Koroma noted that the system is a step in the right direction to fight crime and secure the country, adding that it is good for monitoring and surveillance of crime of all types. He watched real time videos of the National Stadium, including the main bowl and practicing field as well as strategic locations in the city from the NOC.

The Dedicated project NOC is under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and Communication.

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