By John Baimba Sesay-IA, China :
Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Dr Samura Mathew Kamara on Monday, 4th November, arrived in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China on a five day long official visit. Accompanying the Minister is the Director of policy and planning, Foreign Affairs and International cooperation Ministry, Sulay Manah-Kpukumu.
Speaking briefly to the Press/Information Office of the Sierra Leone Embassy in PR China, Minister Kamara explained that he was visiting upon the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister, so as to provide Sierra Leone with the opportunity to revisit country perspectives of various international issues more particularly the reform of the United Nations Security Council, as China is a member of the five permanent members and also has a pivotal role to the extent to which Africa will be able to succeed in its ambition under the UNSC reform.
Minister Samura also stated that he will be looking at the organizational structure of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and other aspects like meeting with EXIM Bank to explore windows available for development.
Whilst in Beijing, Minister Kamara will have series of meetings with Chinese Government officials. He will also meet with the President of the Export-Import Bank of China, Li Ruogu on the 5th of November, and on the 6th, with the Chinese State Councillor, Yang Jiechi.
On the very 6th November, the Foreign Affairs chief is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. On 7th November, Minister Kamara will depart for Tianjin, a 25 minutes drive by train, south of Beijing, where he will meet and have dinner with Chinese Government officials.
Dilating on the importance of the visit, Sierra Leone’s envoy to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency victor Bockarie Foh said, “…the visit is timely because Sierra Leone, under the current leadership of President Koroma is embarking upon many projects, a number of which are going to be funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
Speaking further, envoy Bockarie Foh said, given that the Minister will be meeting with a number of Chinese state officials and the EXIM Bank of China, “the Minister is in a good position, as someone in charge of international cooperation and with a wealth of experience in the financial world to engage the Bank (EXIM Bank) and also look at sub regional development projects like the MRU project(s) as captured in the FOCAC development cooperation framework”
China continues to play a leading role in Sierra Leone’s development agenda, since the establishment of diplomatic relations in the 1970s. This is particularly so in the areas of infrastructure, human resource development and in the energy sector. The relationship between the two countries also takes into cognizant the outstanding role that Sierra Leone played in facilitating China’s entrance into the United Nations General Assembly, a role pioneered by Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister at the time, Hon. Solomon AJ Pratt.
Also, since the establishment of such ties, there continues to be high profile exchange visits by officials from both countries, both at government party levels. In 2013, (June 24 -July 1 2013) President Koroma visited the People’s Republic of China, a visits that was seen to have strengthened the bilateral relationship between the two countries and one that yielded billions of dollars of investment in Sierra Leone.
During the said visit, President Koroma delivered a keynote address at the World Peace Forum at Tsinghua University, and held fruitful discussions with the President of the Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, the Chinese Vice President, Mr. Li Yuanchao, The Governor of Hainan Province, the Vice Governor of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, The President of EXIM Bank and several Chinese companies including the Kingho Group, Shandong Iron and Steel Group and the Hainan State Rubber Group.
It was during that visit that the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced a grant of 250 million RMB to programmes developed by the Government of Sierra Leone and reiterated Chinese support for the construction of a New Airport and a Centre of Excellence for Youths. The two leaders also re-affirmed their commitment to promoting credible and sustainable investments that will be mutually beneficial to the socio-economic development of the two countries.
With China’s policy of going global, there continues to be dozens of trustworthy Chinese companies seeking to invest in Sierra Leone.
Added to other Chinese companies in Sierra Leone, China Kingho Energy Group, an international modern resources, energy and chemical company integrating metal ore mining and dressing, metallurgical chemical, refined coal chemical in May 2013, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Sierra Leone for billions of dollars worth investment.
Investment plans by the company in Sierra Leone include the construction of supporting power facilities so as to maintain long term sustainable growth by securing a stable power supply for industrial use; the construction of a transport and logistics facilities, a 250 km railway construction starting from Magburaka in the north to Sulima in the south, with an estimated US $1.74 billion. There also are indicators for the construction of a 200km roads at an estimated cost of US500 million, coupled with the construction of industrial parks.
In line with these development plans by the company two follow-up MOUs were signed with the Government of Sierra Leone, through the ministries of transport and energy. One was for the development of Railway and Deep Seaport (transport ministry) and the other (energy ministry) underpinning power growth agreement and joint development of up to three hydropower plants and one thermal generation in Sierra Leone.
In the agriculture sector, there is the Hainan agricultural project, which is a 1.5 billion dollars project, plus the airport project (infrastructure sector) which runs into over 300,000 million dollars, all to be funded by China.
This visit by Minister Samura Kamara is also expected to bring more positive results with specific reference to the country’s drive to prosperity, as contained in the Agenda for Prosperity, a document used in administering the affairs of state.
The Minister was received by staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy in China, led by Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh. Also present at the airport was Yang Tao, Special Representative on UN Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister Kamara will depart for Sierra Leone on the 8th of Novemrber, 2013.
Watch out for an exclusive interview with the Hon. Minister on outcome of his visit, amogst other issues.