By State House Communications Unit
President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has said that one of the platforms he used to campaign for the Presidency in 2007 was the Open Government Initiative. He argued that he believed then and still does that governance can be better when the governors create space for citizens to express themselves and their aspirations. He made this statement during the Town Hall Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium organized by the Open Government Initiative (OGI), with the theme; Bringing Government Closer to the Diasporas in Europe.
PRESIDENT KOROMA ADDRESSING THE MEETING
According to the President, some people were skeptical about his desire to open up his administration to scrutiny by civil society and the opposition. He recalled that he had made a commitment to be all embracing and inclusive because he is President for everyone including the opposition.
“That is why when we assumed government we decided to focus and prioritize on energy, infrastructure, agriculture, social services, health and education,” he said, and added that these sectors will have a knock-on effect on the lives of the people.
OGI DIRECTOR KHADIJA SESAY GIVING A STATEMENT
President Koroma however admitted that although challenges still remain, government has put in place the mechanisms to get the job done.
President Koroma further stressed that without electricity development will be difficult to achieve, a situation government is working hard to address through the Independent Power Providers (IPP) as well as the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro Project. He urged the private sector to get involved in the process, saying that a National Grid is what is needed to ensure accessible and affordable electricity nationwide. Electricity generation and distribution should be at 1,000 megawatts, which he said should be the barest minimum to engender economic growth in Sierra Leone.
The President highlighted the mini-hydro projects (Bikongoh, Bankasoka, Makali, and Charlotte) being undertaken by government to address the issue of energy.
President Koroma also spoke of the need to develop the country through agriculture by launching the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme in 2010. The plan, according to him was to commercialize agriculture which will form the basis for socio-economic development in Sierra Leone. He noted that the next step is value addition with the arrival of companies like Scofin, Gold Tree, Sierra Aker, and Arul in the country.
He encouraged Sierra Leoneans to be patient and make the necessary sacrifice for future generations to benefit, adding that development cannot happen overnight.
On the challenges in the health sector, he maintained that before he took office the maternal and infant mortality rates were very high. The President further pointed out that the Free Health Care was introduced in 2010 to target the vulnerable groups in the country, particularly women and children under five.
He also spoke on the efforts government was making to address the issue of not just education but also in improving on the doing business environment in Sierra Leone. President Koroma maintained that the human rights record of government is also very impressive, and have attracted a lot of interest all over the world.