Since 2007 , one of the most internationally respected heads of state has been President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone . As soon as he came to power via democratic elections , President Koroma set the machinery in motion to pursue Sierra Leone’s revival and socio-economic and political development from both the home and international front. While fighting to restore and rebuild all social, economic and political institutions and structures at home that had collapsed during previous regimes , President Koroma also opened his hands to constructive international diplomacy and engagement with Sierra Leone’s stakeholders and development partners.
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
It became all too obvious that the man who had assumed the mantle of leadership in Sierra Leone was not going to be a reclusionist leader, i.e. a president or head of state who operates in isolation. President Koroma spread his nets wide ashore even as other nations and international institutions, seeing his serious-mindedness and determination to develop Sierra Leone , extended hands of friendship and goodwill to the young and dynamic leader. The result is that Sierra Leone, for the past five years , has been blessed with a President who is the toast of an international community that has sought his wisdom and engagement not only in global peacemaking and leadership, but international partnership in development. This could be seen not only in the fact that President Koroma is the leader of Africa’s drive to gain permanent seats and access to the use of the Veto ( among other rights and prerogatives of permanent membership ) in the UN Security Council Reform process but in the number of countries and international companies and investors who want to AND are doing business in Sierra Leone.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING OF CHINA
One of the global powers that has demonstrated tremendous interest in dealing with President Koroma is the People’s Republic of China. And as President Koroma visits Beijing to address the International Peace Forum and also meet with the Chinese leader, there is much at stake with respect to the dividends that such a constructive engagement will yield within the vortex of the bilateral relations between the two nations. Press Attache John Baimba Sesay writes : ” ..His Excellency President Koroma will be meeting with Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of power of the People’s Republic of China. This will be the first meeting between these two leaders, following the reelection of President Koroma for another term in office and that of President Xi Jinping who came to power few months ago.”
The benefits of our bilateral relations with China could be mutual. China will have the opportunity to help Sierra Leone mine her abundant natural resources and in return the new, emergent world economic power could help Sierra Leone rebuild her economy by providing valuable financial assistance .In addition, China could help build roads, railways, ports, airports, and other development-oriented structures and edifice in Sierra Leone. One of the flagship projects of President Ernest Koroma, since he came to power, is massive infrastructural development , with good reason. There can be no durable socio-economic and political developments in any country without good infrastructure . China has the potential to help Sierra Leone resuscitate her passenger rail service –another engine for socio-economic development and free movement of goods and services. She could also give our health care initiatives a big boost by helping to train our doctors, nurses and medical personnel. Another area that China could be useful to Sierra Leone too is in helping her achieve food security.
China can see that Sierra Leone is a very friendly , hospitable and progressive nation , indicated by the large number of their citizens that have now made Sierra Leone their home and in the establishment of Chinese fast food restaurants and businesses all over the capital of Freetown and the country. It is a bilateral relationship that will definitely yield good fruits for both nations.
There is much room for optimism in China’s engagement with Africa. The YUN SUN MAGAZINE of APRIL 5, 2013 spelt that message out clearly when it said : ”Beijing has no intention to colonize the continent, dictate the politics or economy of the local countries or deprive them of development opportunities. On the contrary, China truly sees itself as Africa’s “brother” and hopes to help African countries develop through infrastructure projects. …In the last several years, China has contributed significantly to the economic growth of some of Africa’s poorest nations. China wants to see a prosperous Africa, which is beneficial to China’s interests as well.”
We on COCORIOKO have no doubt about this.
We therefore defer our growing bilateral relations to the wisdom of our two great leaders.