By M.B. Jalloh, Information Attaché, Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communications met on Tuesday his Saudi Arabian counterpart with discussions on bilateral cooperation over different levels.
Mr. Mohamed Bangura and Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad discussed means of enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of media and communication.
The Sierra Leone Information Chief was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s delegation on a state visit.
During the meeting, the two Information Ministers stressed the exchange of radio and television experiences as well as cultural and documentary television programs between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Earlier, Bangura extended Sierra Leone’s gratitude to the Kingdom for the technical and financial aid provided by the Saudi Government under the wise leadership of the former Saudi Monarch, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his successor the current Saudi Monarch, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to contain the Ebola virus which was ravaging Sierra Leone and killing nationals indiscriminately.
Before the Ebola outbreak, Bangura told his counterpart, Sierra Leone’s economy was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. “But when Ebola struck, it had a great and negative impact on the economy and that affected many sectors, including, the communications sector,” the Sierra Leone Information Minister said.
Bangura said his ministry is trying to improve the country’s news agency, the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) and make it more effective in information dissemination. Minister Bangura also discussed with his Saudi counterpart ways to upgrade the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
He extended an invitation to the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information to visit Sierra Leone to discuss deeper cooperation in the media field.
Minster Bangura believes that, if such a visit takes place, the Saudi Culture and Information Minister will have the opportunity to study the media situation in Sierra Leone not only from a clear perspective, but also from a close range, a Mass Communication Sierra Leonean student at the Qatar University in Doha said.
“In the final analysis, both Bangura and his Saudi counterpart will then be in a better position to identify the media needs of the Sierra Leone Ministry of Information and Communications. Further, they would thereby identify the most vital areas in which the two ministries need cooperation and improvement,” the student added.
The meeting was also attended by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador in the Kingdom, Alhaji M.S. Kargbo, the Embassy’s Head of Chancery, Mr. Sulay-Mannah Kpukumu and the Information Attaché.