EU ERCC commends Salone on response to fire disaster

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Brussels, HE Samuel Tamba Musa, has had a working engagement with Head of the Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC) Antoine Lemasson and the  Deputy Team leader,  Alfonso Basanta, who was in Freetown to provide coordination support from the delivery of assistance for victims of the fire disaster in Wellington.

During the meeting held at the Center’s office in Brussels Belgium, the three talked extensively about the work of the ERCC in Sierra Leone.

The ERCC operates in the heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism with its mandate to coordinate the delivery of assistance to disaster-stricken countries, such as relief items, expert civil protection teams, and specialized equipment.

The center ensures the rapid deployment of emergency support and acts as a coordination hub between all EU Member States and affected countries.

Talking about the ERCC’s role in disaster management, Antione Lemasson explained that they don’t implement the process rather they provide the funding, assess and monitor the operations while the implementation process is done by their partners that are mostly NGOs, UN agencies, and the ICRC.

Citing an example of their work, the Head of the ERCC disclosed that the European Civil Protection Mechanism was immediately activated in the aftermath of the Wellington Tanker explosion in Freetown. The activation was done through a combination of efforts by key players including WHO, the EU delegation in Freetown, and the government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

This system, Lemasson said, is different because provides for a state-to-state support pathway in collaboration with the Commission.

Antione Lemasson explained that the geographical area of ERCC’s activities does not only include Europe but rather falls outside of European territories even though funding for assistance is made by the 27 EU Member States and others associated with the EU.

“Assistance”, he said, “can be done through the provision of the services of professionals like doctors”, again citing the case of Sierra Leone during the tanker explosion disaster when EU member countries decided to help, some providing expert doctors in burns, medical supplies including specialised drugs.

The Head of Unit disclosed, the ERCC will not intervene if there is no formal request made from a state or some other international actors such as governments, NGOs, or UN Agencies and that countries faced with disaster need to make a formal request for the funds or support to be activated.

Explaining the purpose of his visit, Ambassador Musa, thanked the Center for their support during the tanker explosion in Freetown, emphasising that their assistance was of great value.

HE Tamba explained that one of his roles as an Ambassador is to enable the government to be in sync with the operations of organizations like the ERCC and to get feedback to enable him to pursue further engagements.

Ambassador Musa commended the team for their timely intervention during the tanker explosion as they were able to put together a prompt response team comprising of doctors and medical equipment.

 He further thanked the various countries for the support they provided to protect and save the lives of the victims.

The Ambassador informed the team about some of the other disasters Sierra Leone had experienced over the years including flooding, mudslide, and epidemics, and wondered if they had to deal with floods, especially in terms of preparedness. In response to the question,  Mr. Alfonso Loano Bassanta promised to link the Ambassador with the specialized sector in the EU   that deals with floods.

In his presentation, Alfonso Lozano Basanta, deputy Team Lead at the Center disclosed that he was present in Sierra Leone for the Fuel tanker explosion adding that the ERCC was very active in Sierra Leone, during the Ebola outbreak.

He further disclosed that the team went to Sierra Leone as fast as they could and they worked closely with the Minister of Health and the various agencies involved in National Disaster Management. The EU Teams  Lead, Alfonso  Basanta said they were very impressed by the professionalism of the staff of the Ministry and National Disaster Management center.

At the end of the meeting, Ambassador Musa was taken on a conducted tour of the center and was informed as to how the center operates.

Ambassador Musa proposes economic mission to Lux- Africa Investment Association

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to Benelux countries and the EU, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa, held a fruitful engagement with members of the Lux- Africa Investment Association where a proposal was discussed for an economic seminar  to be held in Luxembourg to be followed by an economic mission to Sierra Leone.

The Lux- African Investment Association  is a professional non profitable association whose primary objective is to create and maintain a platform that promotes business exchanges between Luxembourg and the African continent. It Organises, promotes and supports Luxembourg-Africa related business initiatives and events in order to capture long term opportunities.

The team from the Lux-Africa Investment Association included the Co- Founder and Vice President of the Association, Bertrand Moupfouma and a senior member of the communication team Issabella Lemeunier, while Ambassador Musa  was accompanied by Sierra Leone’s Honorary Counsel  of Luxembourg Mrs Marianne Nati-Stoffel,  the First Secretary Mr Saifu George and the Information Attache Ms. Betty Milton.

In his statement, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa explained that one of the objectives of the Embassy is to promote trade and investment, disclosing that Sierra Leone has lots of investment opportunities ranging from agriculture and fisheries to mining and tourism. He emphasised that the country has a vast stretch of arable land for agricultural production as well as very beautiful natural locations for the development of tourism.

Ambassador Musa also spoke about Sea Transportation, pointing it out as a viable though largely unexplored area of investment as the cities are situated around the coast.

Ambassador Musa informed the team about incentives that the government has put in place for investments that will create employment for a certain number of local people and he told  them about tax exemptions for certain investments. Talking about “the one Sierra Leone Investment Board” that comprises  Sierra Leonean think Tanks from all shades headed by the Vice President, Ambassador Musa revealed that this board is principally  engaged in  accelerating inward investments.

The Sierra Leone Ambassador spoke about the rebranding process of the country, an effort which he said has registered a lot of strides under the New Direction government.

Ambassador Musa also spoke on other issues including the fight against corruption, and the fight to contain the spread of Covid 19. He explained that even with the low vaccination rate the government and people of Sierra Leone have managed to place the infection rate of COVID-19 at relatively low levels.

The Vice President of Lux-Africa Investment Association Moupfouma explained the work of the organization,   which he said was set up to create a win- win business relationship with Luxembourg and African countries. He said that the Lux-Africa Investment Association has organised economic missions with hosts of countries in Africa, with financial institutions and entrepreneurs from Luxembourg.

Moupfouma disclosed that Africa is rising but that there is need to educate some actors on what is happening in Africa so as to enhance the rebranding of the continent.

Speaking about their work in Luxembourg, Moupfouma  stated that the growth of the world lies on the shoulders of the African continent.

His team, he went on to say, is working on investment, auditing and entrepreneurship, while ensuring that the better country for Africa’s partnership is Luxembourg.

He explained that Luxembourg was one of the first contributors to the African Development Bank and it is also one of the main bases of investment funds, the main base of development startups and technology and one of the main places for the venture into space exploration.

It was agreed at the end of the engagement to organize a productive economic  seminar   that would look into different projects in different sectors that would include the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. The Ambassador will submit a road map for an economic mission to Sierra Leone.

While in Luxembourg Ambassador Musa and team met with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the members of the House of Finance where issues of development and investment in Sierra Leone was discussed.

Ambassador Musa presents Salone Microfinance in Luxembourg

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Benelux countries, HE Samuel Tamba Musa, on Wednesday 1st of December presented Sierra Leone’s Microfinance landscape in his engagement with key players in the microfiancé sector in Luxembourg, the Head of Microfinance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  and the Director of Cooperation and Development and the CEO of Luxembourg House of Finance and Technology in Luxembourg.

In his presentation, Paul Weber, Head of Microfinance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of Cooperation and Development disclosed that they are supporting the development of the microfinance and inclusive microfinance sectors. They have been involved in the microfinance sector for over 25 years. During the period, they have supported access to agricultural finance, markets, innovative practices for smallholder farmers, and supporting financial opportunities for the establishment of small and medium enterprises, and women’s access to finance.

He explained the various funding opportunities and the project they undertake as well as their four priority areas which include: improving access to quality basic social services, enhancing socio-economic integration of women and youth, strengthening inclusion governance and promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. He also spoke about the two projects they support in Sierra Leone.

The Microfinance Head made a disclosure of the Luxembourg inclusive finance ecosystem that includes other players like Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, the Bamboo Capital Partners and the ATTF House of training.

The CEO of Luxembourg House of Finance and Technology, Nasir Zubairu, in his statement, said most people all over the world depend on mobile phones to access information and that a study has shown that technology has helped a billion people in the past 10 to 12 years come out of poverty.

He also disclosed that they put particular focus on Sierra Leone and other countries that are seen as high priority countries for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. He further added that they work on broader areas, which include supporting entrepreneurship, skills developments with linkages to the use of technology.

In his statement, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa stated that Luxembourg is the hub of the microfinance sector, adding that this necessitated his visit to their institutions.

The Sierra Leone Microfinance sector, he went on, is young and heterogeneous with the involvement of several players and models that provide different products and services to communities at different interest rates. The demand for microfinance products and services exceeds the supply.  The huge demand presents an opportunity to invest in the sector to close the huge gap of unmet and underserved needs of communities.

Ambassador Musa expressed that the government is supportive of building an inclusive financial system and has made it part of the development objective of the national endeavour to promote small and medium enterprises as well as startups, especially the agricultural sector.

 He explained that the government has increasingly fostered the microfinance development objective by investing in the MUNAFA fund managed by an independent agency called the Small, Medium Development Agency and implemented through Microfinance Institutions. This scheme charges interest rates leads to less burden on clients compared to other Micro Financial Institutions.

To this end, the Ambassador outlined his strategic objectives for the visit and agreed on actions to promote the building of synergy between the government and institutions in Luxembourg in the form of transfer of knowledge, technical support and investments to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises that contribute to poverty reduction and creation of jobs.

On Trade and Investment… Ambassador Musa engages Sec-Gen in Greece

As part of his trade and investment drive, the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium, HE Samuel Musa, has held a meeting with Orestis Kavalakis the Secretary-General, responsible for Public-Private Investments  in  Greece.

Kavalakis disclosed that they focus  on  strategic investment, which has different categories and incentives, depending on the category and the size of investments. The Secretary-General maintained that they blend  procedures for investments with good incentives to attract more investment for internal purposes, but were willing to discuss investments  in Sierra Leone.

Orestis Kavalakis also stated that building a strategic and commercial relationship between two countries was pivotal, and the two countries should join forces for mutual benefit.

Kavalakis added that his country was trying to overcome a longstanding economic crisis, but over the years the government has proved to be “one of the most steady and business-friendly governments in the whole Europe, as they are starting to see many investors come to Greece”.

“Greece is very strong in the shipping and in the tourism sector; because of the size of the islands, we are trying to shift this model of our economy towards new technologies; therefore, we have also given incentives  for emerging technologies in new areas of business,” he mentioned.

Kavalakis also disclosed that it was important to have a new factory, new technology to ascertain how many people get jobs in the local communities and boost the local economy, believing this step could be enough to shift change.

The Secretary-General maintained that in the area of investment for Sierra Leone, he would be open to having discussions with potential investors that would be interested in going to Sierra Leone, and also discuss with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to proceed with the bilateral cooperation.

“For economic diplomacy to move forward, the   relevant  ministries  in both countries  must begin to have more close communication and relations,” Kavalakis emphasised.

Ambassador Samuel Tamba explained that Sierra Leone has a lot of untapped investment opportunities, and they were looking forward to productive partnerships for joint investments.

He revealed untapped mineral potentials were ranging from gold, diamond, rutile and bauxite to iron ore. He stressed that these minerals need to be harnessed for productive uses, disclosing the opportunities around investments in shipping as sea transport will yield a better partnership.

Another area Ambassador Musa  emphasized  was  the   desire to collaborate in the tourism sector, as Greece also does a lot of work around the tourism sector. “We are interested   in  how  we can have  joint partnerships  because tourists go from one country to the other and this can be of benefit to both countries,” he stated.

Investment in Information technology, mobile technology and digitalization were also issues  raised by the Ambassador for partnership, as this, he noted, were vital for development. Ambassador maintained “these are all possibilities we can consider and work on together within the EU framework”.

The Ambassador and  Secretary General agreed  to  exchange  investment packages  for elaboration and collaboration in both countries.

Ambassador Musa assures Sierra Leonean Community in Greece

Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa, accredited  to the Benelux countries and the EU, presented his letter of credence to the President  of Hellenic Republic of Greece on the 16th November  and in the evening of the same day engaged the Sierra Leone community in Greece, where he assured his audience that the Embassy is always ready to seek their interests.

Ambassador Musa spoke on issues surrounding international diplomacy, the functions of the embassy, the  on-going  positive  transformations in Sierra Leone  led by  the new direction government under the leadership  of  His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio,  as the diaspora plans  of the embassy.

The Ambassador addressed the concern  about  the time it took  him to come to Greece to meet the Sierra Leone community.  He informed the community that the receiving first has to invite an Ambassador to present  letter credence and they can  do so per country or as a group countries based on their own  policies and procedures. The date and time is not determined by the Ambassador but by the receiving country. The delay was also due to  the pandemic which restricted public events and gathering.

The Ambassador also said  that the diaspora  Is part of the human resources of Sierra Leone residing outside the country. The President is concerned about human capital development, which puts human resource development through free quality education as the flagship programme.

 A  key objective of the Embassy is to promote and protect national interest as part of the foreign policy. We therefore value the diaspora. They have talent and skills that contribute to national development. We here to protect your interest and want to collaborate with you to increase the visibility of Sierra Leone as to embark productive partnerships.

 Ambassador Musa further explained  to the community that the government  inherited bad economy and economy that was austerity  and been  subjected to massive corruption. The government therefore had embark on efficient management of the economy, insitutiing the single treasury account to cut down on leakages, set of  anti-corruption of commission enquiry  that has led to some recoveries of looted funds, whiles some are still being pursued court. This has contributed to increasing MCC score  from 81 to 83%.

The government has made important strides in promoting free quality education, health security. Provision of electricity in district headquarter towns and invested heavily in Agriculture. The  Ambassador shared concrete examples of significant  strides in all the sectors.

On the issue of the diaspora engagement, Ambassador Musa encourage them to work in the area of  trade,  investment and  help identify potential investors to take home.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Sierra Leonean community in Belgium, Koki Nyangi , said he was pleased the Ambassador and staff were able to meet them even though he said they had waited long for such an engagement.

Koki said that the entire community, including himself, will be more than happy to form a structured team to serve as liaison between them and the Embassy. He called on the Ambassador to play his fatherly role and be able to protect them as they sometimes face some challenges.

The Head of Chancery of the Embassy, Albert Coker, informed the community members of the process of securing documentations like birth certificates, passports and attestations.

One major concern that came out during the engagement was that of deportation but their fears were allayed when the Ambassador informed them that it is not within the powers or in the interest of the Embassy to deport any Sierra Leonean living in Greece. He said that such decisions, are made by the host  government based on their own considered parameters and policy stands. Adding “our role is to ensure that the rights of our citizens are always protected, in line with international laws and conventions”.

Ambassador Musa presents letters of Credence to the President of Greece

The Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Belgium accredited to  the Benelux  countries and EU,  H.E Samuel Tamba Musa on Tuesday 16th November presented his letter of credence to Madam Katerina Sakellaropoulou President of the Hellenic Republic at her Palace in Greece.

While receiving the 12 Ambassadors from different countries, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou welcomed them and thanked  them for presenting their credentials, while stating that the covid-19 pandemic prevented the ceremony from taking place in 2020.

At the end of the presentation, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador His Excellency Samuel Tamba Musa stated that when he was appointed as an ambassador, one of the priorities was to present credentials to countries of accreditation. Therefore he said, “I have to present to all my countries of accreditation to enable me represent my country very well.”

Ambassador Musa said he is going to strengthen bilateral ties with Greece and one way he will be doing it is by engaging with people in the sector of the maritime industry and in the private sector.

He has scheduled several meetings in that regard to assess their readiness to be in partnership with Sierra Leone.  He would want to know the fleets they have, how they operate, how they partner with other countries to discuss issues of investment into the shipping industry. Greece is one of the countries in the world that is good in the area of building and repairing of ships and does lot of sea transportation.

Ambassador Musa further stated that there were very few people in the shipping business  and it’s an expensive industry. He will engage the Maritime agency to identify potential areas they would like to foster in terms of partnerships and investments.

Ambassador Musa Explores Maritime Opportunities in Greece

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium with accreditation to other countries, including Greece, HE Samuel Tamba Musa, has held a productive meeting with the Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, Ioannis Plakiotakis, with whom the Ambassador explored shipping opportunities for Sierra Leone.

Greece is one of the leading nations in respect of worldwide shipping as it is traditionally a major maritime hub with over 5000 ships spread worldwide.

During the meeting, Ambassador Musa informed the Minister that he is aware of the dominant role of Greece in the shipping industry and over the years, they have watched this grow, adding that President Bio is also keen to explore the advantages of working with the shipping industry in Greece by reaching out to the Maritime Agency to know what they are doing.

Sierra Leone and Greece, HE Musa echoed, have lots of similarities, one of which is that both have their landmass spread around the Atlantic ocean, with lots of movements of ships.

 The Ambassador further stated that “as a nation, given our geographical location, we would want to participate in the wider international shipping industry and find ways to foster partnerships”.

Ambassador Musa said that he is fully aware of the challenges in the industry, especially with climate change, and the different things that need to be done to ensure the safety and security of seafarers.

These, he said, are major concerns as there are lots of people who join the shipping industry in different capacities. “I believe that working together and creating a deeper understanding will also help improve our own capacity because you have vast knowledge, hugely advantages, coupled with experiences and the proportion of the industry that you command,” he maintained.

The Sierra Leone Ambassador disclosed: “So I came here with the view that there are possibilities of working together.”

Ambassador Musa also told Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis that Sierra Leone is looking to expand its water transportation which depends mainly on ferries, adding that the issue of  maintenance of the ferries is always a concern.

The Greece Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Ioannis Plakiotakis in his statement presented a data of the shipping industry in Greece, stating that as the leading worldwide power with respect to shipping, his country represents more than 21% of the global tonnage and 58% of the European union stack and they account for more than 5000 ships worldwide, as such shipping is therefore considered a national asset and represents more than 7% of the country’s GDP.

With respect to the new environmental rules and climate change, he said what they are thinking about is how to reach the goals they have set which may include the short, the medium and the long term measures in order to reduce gas emissions from ships.

The Minister went on to reveal that Greece is proposing the use of advanced  technology and a far higher investment into Research and Development for alternative  fuels and technologies.

The Minister spoke further about migration challenges disclosing that Greece has saved over 1000 lives of people trying to enter their country through the seas.

He then went on to conclude that sharing technologies and experiences was a mutually beneficial pathway.

The Minister recommended that the Embassy should work with staff designated from the Ministry to put together potential areas of cooperation.

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Brussels Meets Agro-Food & Technology Centre

The Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Brussels, H. E Samuel Tamba Musa, has held a consultative meeting with Jan Hak chairman of the Netherlands Agro-Food and Technology Centre (NAFTC), at the Clootwijck Almkerk, Netherlands.

The consultative meeting is a follow-up to a previous meeting that identified new opportunities in the areas of Agriculture, Water, and Sustainable Energy that are consistent with priorities of the Government of Sierra Leone.

The Ambassador disclosed that the government has put in place new policies and programmes in the context of agricultural commercialization to boost the sector. To this end, the government has encouraged the involvement of the private sector as a major player.

Ambassador Musa maintained that collecting data for artificial intelligence and precision agriculture are innovations that can contribute to agricultural productivity and production and the Ministry is in a position to collaborate with the Centre and has a planning, monitoring and evaluation department that deals with agricultural agronomic data collection and analysis.

He stressed that while agribusiness is an important sector to focus on, the desired connections can come from different fields, including industry, services, education, technology and culture.

Ambassador Musa stated that he is  interested in working with the company to promote the objectives that were outlined for the coordination group. As an Embassy,  our  objectives include identifying and exploring opportunities for companies and businesses to establish and deepen trade and investment relationships between Sierra Leone and our accredited countries.

On the issue of Carbon capture which is beginning to play a major role on the country’s agenda , Ambassador Musa noted that other stakeholders have engaged him on the issue.

Regarding the intention to forge fruitful partnership with Sierra Leone, Chairman of NAFTC, Jan Hak, said: “I am at an age where I like to help African countries to come to the same standards as us, same wealth and income. I want to work with a strategic team for one year and make it happen”.

NAFTC’s work in the area of energy and  Agriculture Intelligence were showcased by members of the team. In the sector related to Energy, Coen van Driel provided analysis on the scope of their work, focusing on reducing the footprint in energy consumption and making energy consumption sustainable.

He also mentioned that  their energy, solar/wind, gas, liquid fuels and heat/cold systems are  connected  to various consumer sectors and industries to build the environment, enhance agriculture mobility, and fully optimize the energy system  based on  Co-creation with customers in the  design and installation of smart, innovative and integrated energy generation and storage-consumption systems.

As Minister Sengeh Engages the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO…Sierra Leone in Race to Host a Global UNESCO Event

While in Paris for the 41st UNESCO General Conference, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School, Dr David Moinina Sengeh accompanied by the Ambassador of EU, Samuel Tamba Musa, engaged the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Ms Stefania Giannini during a high level bilateral meeting.

In an interview with the Minister at the end of the engagement, Dr Sengeh revealed that three important issues were discussed in the area of the UNESCO programme for Sierra Leone and the country’s role in shaping Global Education.

He observed that: “Sierra Leone is one of the few countries who expanded its education budget during the COVID-19 pandemic and the country continues to lead on conversations on inclusion around the world.”

On gains made in the area of education, the Minister maintained that Sierra Leone focuses on technology and innovation, which are things that need to be promoted, and that the country has a clear focus on evidence-based policy and decision making.

“Because of these gains, the country has taken a lead role in many things related to global education and this is why during the engagement with the UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education, Sierra Leone has been considered to host the global launch of GEM Report in the future,” the Minister stated.

“This programme,” he echoed, “will bring people together from all across the world to Sierra Leone, from the leadership of schools to the UN organizations. So over the next two years, the country will be planning this major global event around education which is a really great honour and privilege for us.”

The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School also explained the benefits of such an education gathering, adding that the benefits of education are not immediate but rather are long term. Giving the historical perspective of Sierra Leone’s educational system, once dubbed the Athens of West Africa with the establishment of the University of Sierra Leone, the Minister stressed the importance of investing in education. He added that the world stopped investing in public education in developing countries and it took a long time for such an impact to be felt, as education went rock bottom post-independence in Africa.

He added: “We do not expect it will take another 20 years for us to begin to see the positive effects of current investments because it is a different world. It’s not something that makes an immediate impact. But in this particular instance, we will bring together global leaders on Education Policy, technology companies and more investments in education to work with us in Sierra Leone.”

Dr Sengeh went on to disclose that the issue of Sierra Leone’s difficulty in benefiting from UNESCO due to the country’s inability to account for funds disbursed between 2007 and 2011 was also discussed. He further mentioned the need to have a formal and larger representation of UNESCO in Sierra Leone to expand the UNESCO office in the country.

Another issue that came up during the engagement was his selection as a member of the High-Level Steering Committee of UNESCO, which is the highest body for SDG for education 2020, and also the Global Education Monitoring Report, which Minister Sengeh Chairs. The Steering Committee was inaugurated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Dr. Sengeh tells UNESCO… “We introduced technologies for continuous learning”

At the UNESCO General Conference Policy Debate, in Paris France recently, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh told the Director General of UNESCO, other Ministers of Education across the world and Delegates at the conference that “during Covid, we introduced technologies for continuous learning including radio teaching right across Sierra Leone”.

Speaking on the UNESCO policy on “inclusive and equitable education and promote life long learning opportunities for all”, he said “In Sierra Leone, All means All”.

The Minister disclosed that during the COVID the government raise the budget of education to 22% and to get the kinds in line with their curriculum “ we introduced technologies for continuous learning including radio teaching right across Sierra Leone. We also introduced a set of mobile-based learning solutions on education services for anyone with a mobile phone.”

The impact of these technologies is that  “these SMS and USSD solutions mean over 2 million citizens have interacted with our solutions till date”.

Furthermore the ministry introduced a free SMS and USSD dictionary to every student and mobile user in  right across the country. Before this time, parents use to spend about Le100,000 and up to six weeks to access their exams results, but this, the Minister said has changed with the introduction of a free services as any parent can use their mobile phones anywhere across Sierra Leone to know how their children do in national exams.

On other technologies been used in the education sector? Dr Sengeh maintained that the country believes in benchmarks, evidence-based decision making and data and in that regard, it uses hybrid technologies.

On the radical inclusion Sierra Leone is using in line with the “All means all” objectives, he stated, with the experience from in 2014,  it was anticipated that there will be high teenage pregnancy from school closures in Covid, many countries have recorded high teenage pregnancies as they preempted this, “we launched a policy on radical inclusion, opening classroom doors to children who become pregnant while in school and provide support to parent learners. We also expanded adult education classrooms in every chiefdom across Sierra Leone”

Adding that, the government provides learning materials to children in hard-to-reach areas and remote areas, and those from poor backgrounds.  Also,  “all children can attend school in Sierra Leone tuition free from pre-primary all through secondary education”.

And for female students in the STEM programme, and those with special need, they are guaranteed 17 years of tuition free education through higher end tertiary education.

Covid-19, he went on, may have destabilised the world in horrendous ways but it has also destabilised the status-quo. “We must use this moment to open our eyes and re-focus them on our shared global goal – on an inclusive and equitable quality education for all”.

The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education thank UNESCO for the inauguration of the High-Level Steering Committee on which Sierra Leone serves and represents Africa, and that the country is committed to UNESCO with it’s effort to advocate for global education.

Minister Sengeh also pledge Sierra Leone’s commitment to the Paris Declaration and the call global call for investing in the futures of education to channel and power the future.