President Julius Maada Bio engages Sierra Leonean residents in the Benelux countries

At the end of the two days AU EU summit for Heads of State in Brussels, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio engaged Sierra Leoneans resident in the Benelux countries. The president thanked them for the support they have been giving to development efforts in Sierra Leone as the government continues to pursue its national  programs.

During this engagement the president underscored the need for a critical mass of right thinking people to keep up their patriotic strides so as to  win over those with negative tendencies. “You don’t have to be SLPP; you don’t have to know me, but you have to understand that Sierra Leone is moving in the right direction”, president Bio pointed out.

The President thanked the various sets of communities abroad, recognising that they make their own individual efforts not only to address the welfare needs of their families, but also to give the little they can offer back home to friends and the general society. “That is commendable and I want to, on behalf of all those who have been benefiting from your generous efforts, thank you”, the president told his audience.

He said the country needs support, emphasising that the things the diasporas do will help the country and he further went in to say that there are people that have very good ideas about what the country needs and he invited them to join the process and make things better.

The president expressed his joy  by  stating that “We are very proud of what you’re doing and we want to be in position to continue to support the efforts that you’re making”. He then went on to highlight  some of the successes the government has made, over the relatively short period of time, citing the repeal of the criminal libel law, the repeal of the death penalty, the gender empowerment act, the free quality education and the improvement of the health sectors.

President Bio explained that the disporans have special needs and they have acquired special skills and therefore they require special attention.

“That is why the government is putting together policies to create the enabling environment for those skills to be effectively utilised so that when you go back home you can be able to easily fit into the country”.

The President spoke about his educational polices, pointing out that when he took up office, fewer people had access to education, fewer could read and write, lamenting that such a situation was not good for the image of a country that had the first university in the region.

He said that this negative reality was changing as a result of the determined strides being pursued through the Free Quality Education program which has exponentially increased the number of children who are now attending school with parents able to access their kids’  results on their cell phones, free of charge.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Professor David Francis, in his statement,  said his ministry has very good plans for the diaspora and that is the reason the ministry has established the directorate of Diaspora Affairs to look into the welfare and plans of  those living abroad.

He said the Ministry is looking at having investment and trade attachés and that recruitment will be extended to the diaspora because recruiting everyone from Freetown and sending them as diplomatic staff is a very expensive venture but he also acknowledged that these were proposals that are still being assessed. He underlined the need for the diaspora to be empowered  to promote Sierra Leone in the various countries abroad.

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to Brussels, welcomed all present particularly those that had travelled from various locations including Holland, France, Germany, and Belgium for the support they have been giving and he called on them to continue to promote the country in their various ways.

The members of different organisations appreciated the    strong strides of President Bio but also called on the president to give them more support in certain  areas pointing out challenges encountered especially in the acquisition of lands for those running charities.

At ECAM High-Level Meeting…… President Bio emphasises the importance of Human Capital Development

In his keynote address at the high-level meeting of the  European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East (ECAM) on the theme ” African Leaders for change”, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has said “human capital development leads a nation to achieve accelerated and sustainable gains.”

The ECAM high level meeting took place on Thursday 17th February 2022 in Brussels on the margins of the AU -EU Heads of State summit.

President Bio believed that by investing in quality education, accessible and quality healthcare, food security, and critical infrastructure, Sierra Leone will be a more productive, more resilient, and a more prosperous nation.

He added that by investing in human capital it will make for sustainable gains in all facets of the country’s social and economic development.

The Sierra Leone President said despite the impact of the COVID-19 virus, his government laudable gains had been recognised by international partners.

President Bio explained about his government successes in the education: “More children, and especially more girls, more children with disabilities, more children from poor home and rural areas are now in school, stay in school, complete and are more successful in school than ever before. We have escalated investments in school infrastructure, school feeding, teacher training and teaching and learning materials. As a result of our policy of radical inclusion, our fight against sexual and gender-based violence and the First Lady’s successful advocacy against early child marriage and other cultural practices, school is now a safer place where every child can work hard to reach his or her fullest potential.”

In the area of food security, he said the government had increased mechanised farming, provided improved seeds and fertilisers and more arable land had been put under cultivation.

President Bio also higlighted the gains his government has made in the areas of energy, healthcare, communications network, infrastructure development and the fight against corruption.

He expressed optimism for Sierra Leone on the Africa-Europe Alliance: “We are not quite where we want to be. But I am pleased that past dialogues such as the 2018, Africa-Europe Alliance foreground ‘deepening trade and economic relations,’ ‘strengthening the business environment and investment climate’ and investing in education and skills training, Sierra Leone stands ready for enhanced cooperation in each of those areas.”

The European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East was born with the primary objective of developing feasible, effective and lasting solutions for more sustainable healthcare and education systems throughout Africa and the MENA region.

Statements were also made by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini, the President of Mozambique and other dignitaries.