*VP FOH ADDRESSES A HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON DATA DEVELOPMENT*
Nairobi: Thursday 29th June, 2017.
Hon. Vice President, Ambassador Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh today addressed a high-level meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on the occasion of the Hosting of a Conference on “Data for Development in Africa” at the Villa Rosa Hotel.
Delivering his Keynote Address, Vice President Foh extended fraternal greetings from His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone to His Excellency the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and the people of Kenya.
VP. Foh acknowledged that it is indeed a pleasant opportunity for Sierra Leone to partner with the Government of Kenya in hosting this very august forum. He expressed optimism that this two day meeting on “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” will call for catalytic action by Governments across Africa to strengthen Data as a critical component of the infrastructure for sustainable development.
The Hon. Vice President affirmed that the forum affords Sierra Leone the opportunity to strengthen it collaboration with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). These needs, he said, have propelled the Governments of Kenya and Sierra Leone, and Safaricom to co-host this first High-Level Meeting on Data for Development in Africa.
VP. Foh reiterated Sierra Leone’s Government strong support for this High-Level Forum, averring that the Government of President Koroma is scaling up its commitment to support global paths to sustainable development by 2030. He furthered that, inspite of Sierra Leone’s weak start at the dawn of the 21st Century, due to the devastating civil war from 1991 to 2001, the Nation endeavoured to achieve the benchmarks of the Millennium Development Goals.
He however noted, that notwithstanding the civil war, Sierra Leone’s post-conflict peace building and development agenda provided the basis for its recovery, growth and development, to the extent that the country was identified as one of the fastest growing economies in 2014. This, he said, was the rate of growth until the deadly Ebola Virus Disease that claimed an estimated 3,500 of about 8,000 infected persons.
VP. Foh regretfully informed that the combined effort of ebola and the slump in the price of iron-ore, badly affected Sierra Leone’s progress towards meeting the MDGs and undermined hopes of achieving the country’s Vision 2035 of becoming a middle income country. These effects, he lamented, have continued to be felt on the economy, to the extent that the Government is currently instituting tough austerity measures in order to rebuild and stabilise the economy.
VP. Foh however, hastened to state Sierra Leone’s resolve in staying committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, stressing that Sierra Leone signed up to the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in 2016. This, according to him, signifies the Nation’s commitment to development at National and Sub-National levels.
Vice President Foh reiterated that for Data Revolution to be successful, the Government of Sierra Leone had taken a multi-stakeholder approach, consulting with the masses through Civil Society and Private Sector Players, Academia, other Non-State Actors and Institutions.
VP. Foh pledged Sierra Leone’s Government commitment to align, collaborate and foster the whole of Government Multi-stakeholder approach in fulfilling the priorities of harnessing data for positive impact, fostering a vibrant Data Ecosystem and improving Data Quality.
“The political will is available and has been placed at the disposal of our technocrats”, averred the Hon. VP who therefore, called for a commitment from the Regional and Global actors to complement the political will.
He expressed hope that this meeting will bring the Continent together, to strengthen Regional and Global Partnership for vital statistics across Africa.
At this juncture, Vice President, Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh thanked the Government and people of Kenya for being there for Sierra Leone during its most difficult periods in history. He also thanked the participants and expressed hope that their deliberations will lead to the realisation of a mutual ambition to harness the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development in Africa.
The meeting was facilitated by the Right to Access Information Commissioners, Yeama Thompson and Margaret Vandi Thoronka.
The Minister of Information and Communication, Hon. Mohamed Bangura and Minister of State Office of the Vice President, Hon. Mohamed Alie Bah, both of whom delivered a Paper at this High-Level Forum, forms part of VP’s delegation.
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