Sierra Leone’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the People’s Republic of China, on Friday 15 April, 2016, said there is the need for a rethink on the development cooperation framework with China, given the special ties that have existed between the two nations for decades and with the huge opportunities that China has got to offer developing nations.
Envoy Kumba Alice Momoh spoke at the ‘2016 Seminar on China’s Economic Development Practices for Sierra Leone’ held at Academy for International Business Officials (AIBO), Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The seminar brought together Senior Government Officials, amongst them, Permanent Secretaries and Directors from various ministries.
According to Madam Momoh, China’s development practices in Sierra Leone, tailored within the framework of development cooperation mechanisms like EXIM Bank, CADFund and FOCAC “have often come in the form of infrastructural growth, support to human resource development, coupled with interventions in the health sectors as well as at the political level.”
Two prominent features of China’s development practices, she said, are; adherence to the policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of countries, and ensuring a ‘win-win’ result on cooperation with nations.
However, she said, Sierra Leone has not captured much as compared to other African countries in reaching out for the growth and development opportunities China is presenting to the continent.
Hence, she called on policy influencers and senior government officials present to play the role of agreeing on a strategy to bring about a surge in the cooperation with China “to a more strategic status.”
Madam Momoh noted that China has what Sierra Leone’s growth aspirations need, especially along the Growth and Change trajectories of the country’s development process.
“We have the opportunity to benefit from more offers than most other countries considering the historic advantage of the country,” she said, referencing the decades of relations “not only at the diplomatic, but at all levels of political and people-to-people.”
The arrival of senior technocrats and management officials for a Seminar on China’s Economic Development Practices for Sierra Leone, she said, further underscored the relevance the country attaches to Sierra Leone.
She therefore urged participants to be part of the process of increasing “our gains from the Chinese package for Africa as structured in the Johannesburg FOCAC Summit declaration. I am looking forward to seeing how much this training will prepare you for that,” she challenged.
The Sierra Leone envoy commended the Chinese Government for supporting her country, especially during the Ebola outbreak, and for the training sessions offered to Sierra Leoneans over the years, through the Ministry of Commerce at AIBO.
Speaking earlier, Vice President for AIBO, Zuo Chuanming, commended the great progress that both countries have made since the establishment of diplomatic ties. China, he observed, is Sierra Leone’s largest trade partner today.
Since the reform and opening up, he said China continues to make progress in terms of development even as they are aware of the many challenges they are confronted with.
By end of March of this year, Vice President Chuanming said, they had organized several trainings for officials from developing countries, with a commitment to continue in that direction in a bid to foster their ties with African nations.
Mrs. Margaret Jah-Matturi from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation thanked the Chinese Government for the continued bilateral ties, stressing, that the invitation extended to them “speaks loudly of the excellent ties between the two countries.”
Sierra Leone, she said, is not unaware to China’s growing importance globally, given the phenomenal progress the country has made in the last forty years, noting that such progress has helped in propelling the country into the centre of world affairs.
Madam Jah-Matturi said Sierra Leone is a small country that can learn from China “as an example for a prosperous future for our people”
Chairing the opening session was Madam Chen Shaojun, Director for AIBO’s Department for China-Aid Training.
In the next three weeks, participants will, amongst other key areas, look at the experience of China’s rural economic development with reference to Sierra Leone’s economic development; discuss China’s development process from the framework of Special Economic Zones as well as the development of it small and medium sized enterprises.
The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ policy and its international effect, as well as China-Africa economic and trade relations, will all form part of the three-week long discussions.
John Baimba Sesay
Sierra Leone Embassy
People’s Republic of China