By KABS KANU
The bilateral meeting between Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma and the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi jinping on the margins of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday ended with joy unspeakable as the Chinese Leader unveiled a very impressive development package that will see the emergent world economic giant, China, help President Koroma transform Sierra Leone.
The socio-economic package announced by the Chinese Leader at Conference Room 6 of the UN Headquarters sent the Sierra Leone delegation composed of President Koroma, Foreign Minister Dr. Samura Kamara, Information Minister , Mr. Alpha Kanu, Finance Minister Dr. Kelfala Marrah, Transport and Communications Minister Mr. Leonard Balogun Koroma, Trade Minister Ms. Mabinty Daramy , Youth Minister Mr. Alimamy Kamara , ambassadors , diplomats and other officials beaming with joy. Also present were the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Mr. Vandy C. Minah , the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Andrew G. Bangali and the Deputy Ambassador
The package includes the continuation of President Koroma’s flagship program–The Mamamah International Airport -which the delighted Sierra Leonean Leader says will help unlock the prosperity of the country. Convinced about the profound socio-economic benefits of the Mamamah International Airport project, which he described as “a flagship project we have been waiting for since Independence over 50 years ago”, President Koroma appealed to the Chinese Leader to help Sierra Leone save the project from collapse from the difficulties that have now arisen over the continuation of the project . President Koroma highlighted the disappointment that this difficulty will generate after it had been extensively publicized and got the Sierra Leonean people excited about the socio-economic potentials of the proposed new airport.
In his measured response which was replete with assurances , the President of China promised President Koroma what amounted to a new commitment by his country to ensure that the project restarts in earnest as soon as possible. This assurance drew a loud applause from the Sierra Leone delegates. But the Chinese Leader did not stop there. He went on to announce a wide-range of areas in which China will intervene to help the much-awaited recovery from the Ebola scourge and the socio-economic transformation of the country.
The development package President Jinping announced will include assistance in revamping the health care system ; sustainable industrial development which will continue to focus on natural resources development, human resource training ; more government scholarships and expanded bilateral training; infrastructural development, especially roads and electric power; restart of the Tonkolili Iron-ore project that will help the country’s industrialization ; encouragement of Chinese companies and institutions to engage in rice production , fishing and other agricultural projects to ensure food security; Climate change and support for Sierra Leone’s and by implication , Africa’s position, in the United Nations Security Council Reform , where President Koroma is the Chairman of the Committee of 10 African States ( C-10).
In his response, President Koroma thanked President Jinping for the great gesture he had shown to Sierra Leone ‘s development endeavors. He also thanked China for her strong and speedy response to the Ebola outbreak which helped to galvanize more international effort to help the country eradicate Ebola. President Koroma said the Chinese President mentioned key areas where his nation wants to help Sierra Leone that will strengthen the socio-economic status of the country. President Koroma said the results of this bilateral meeting alone has made the whole UN General Assembly a big success for Sierra Leone.
While also thanking the President of China for his country’s support to the Military Hospital, President Koroma said that China’s promise to help Sierra Leone industrialize will aid the diversification of the country’s economy. He also thanked the Chinese Leader for what he described as his great understanding in the Mamamah Project , which he described as the project that is capable of transforming the country .
President Jinping commended the strong leadership that President Koroma exhibited to help bring the ebola outbreak virtually to an end in Sierra Leone.
The two Presidents promised to continue to strengthen the socio-economic cooperation between the two countries.