Pa Baimba Sesay-Beijing :
Sierra Leone continues to progress in a number of important developmental areas. President Ernest Bai Koroma’s incisive leadership has currently put Sierra Leone on the spotlight of international attention give her growth and progress over the years. Commendable strides H.E. the President is making in the midst of great challenges are amazingly admirable. And what lies ahead, based on the components of the ‘Prosperity Agenda’ for Sierra Leone’s development gives hope for a bright and prosperous country. The successes and challenges are a mix bag shared by other players in the President’s quest for a brighter nation. In this drive, the role to be played by the Media/Civil Society/ Political Parties, etc., etc., is crucial. The Sierra Leone Embassy in China is no exception to this fact. This is because a nation’s growth depends on many factors including her bilateral and multilateral relations.
The Embassy in China plays a strategic role in support of Sierra Leone’s development efforts. China today is not just a determinant development factor in global Economics, Peace and Politics, but the PRC is currently playing a lead role in support of Africa’s development more particularly within the framework of the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Political leaders in the various African Embassies – Ambassadors, continue to provide the required direction aimed at ensuring the furtherance of the country’s development. For the Embassy in China, the leadership has been working assiduously for the furtherance of the China and Africa friendship and development. During the month of June, the Sierra Leone Embassy opened a Branch of the Embassy’s Commercial Section in Shanghai, the world’s busiest Container Port and a major commercial hub in China. It is a recognized global Financial Centre.
Opening a Commercial Section in Shanghai is aimed at reaching greater numbers of worthy Private Sector Investment in the areas of Trade, Commerce and Tourism and to attract greater Public as well as Private capital ﬂow from China into Sierra Leone’s development. It is also indicative of the Embassy’s desire and commitment to expand and build upon the long and very cordial relationship that Sierra Leone has had with China. Without doubt and by all standards, China is a great country. With its 23 very economically viable Provinces, 4 efficiently and effectively managed Autonomous Regions and 4 huge / mega Municipalities, the Embassy would therefore need a team of people with the requisite caliber to reach out to the numerous investors the country can boast of. As a Mission, it is our commitment to ensure that we explore all potential investment opportunities in the PR for Sierra Leone’s untapped investment potentials in the areas of Tourism, Real Estate Development, Water, Electricity, Roads and Infrastructure, Transportation, Medical and Health, Communications, Ports, Railways, Telecommunications, Marine Resources. By so doing, the Embassy lends total support to the President’s trajectory for a prosperous country.
Sierra Leone has witnessed an unprecedented level of growth, in terms of Infrastructure, the Economy, and Health and in a host of other areas. However, there still are, a plethora of existing challenges. This is of course not a surprise given regard to the bottom position where Sierra Leone was when President Koroma took office in 2007. That notwithstanding, as Head of State and Chief Driver of our country’s development vehicle, the visionary President Ernest Bai Koroma embarked upon providing for the citizenry, a better Sierra Leone, much better than what the country was before his Presidency. It is the vision of the President for Sierra Leone to become a Middle-Income country following the achievements of the Agenda for Change and the Road Map of the Agenda for Prosperity.
Through the ‘Agenda for Change’, the government was able to give a facelift to the country’s infrastructure, which was in a melancholic state, with no sense of necessity ever existing in relation to maintenance, rehabilitation or construction of roads. Through the ‘Agenda for Change’, the President led the country to the promotion of socio-economic rights, concurrently promoting macroeconomic growth and stepping up investment in public services, infrastructure and priority areas. There was an irresistible paradigm shift which witnessed Sierra Leone moving away from total and complete dependence on donor support for all her development efforts. Under the current Government, we saw an increase in revenue collection by the National Revenue Authority and these were used to enhance our development program. The ‘Change Trajectory’ for national development also witnessed Private Sector development being at the heart of the country’s transformative agenda where in the Ministry of Trade and Industry promotes Private Sector development; improving the investment climate and encourage expansion and diversiﬁcation of exports. The Health, Agriculture, Mineral Resources and other sectors of the economy were not left behind in the President’s development agenda.
By 2007, corruption was literally acceptable in Sierra Leone, notwithstanding the existence of a law aimed at ﬁghting this societal problem. Tackling such a problem requires sincerity and good judgment of leadership. President Koroma faced the challenge in addressing this issue. He launched an “upgraded version of the ACC by amending the Anti-Corruption Act in 2008 and by that measure, his government established a more robust institutional and legal framework for ﬁghting corruption.” The new Act gave strength and complete prosecutorial powers to the Anti-Corruption Commission. The scope of Corruption Offenses was broadened. At the same time, provision was made for the protection of whistle-blowers. It became mandatory for all Public and Civil Servants to declare their assets. Today, we see how he has kept to his promise in this direction to ﬁght corruption.
Indeed, the desire of the President is to leave a Sierra Leone that is prosperous, where there is Private Sector-led growth, creating Value-Added products, and providing Jobs for our people. Sierra Leone with “an effective environmental management system in place that protects our biodiversity and capable of pre-empting environmental disasters…” For President Koroma, our country should be a model in responsible and efficient natural resource exploitation and above all “a stable, export-led economy, based on sound macroeconomic fundamentals” (read ‘The Agenda For Prosperity Road To Middle Income Status’) These are his achievable desires and President Ernest Bai Koroma is calling on all Sierra Leoneans to join him rebrand our country.