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.

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 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.

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.

MBSSE address High-Level Segment at UNESCO Global Education Meeting

The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr. David Moinina Sengeh today addressed the High-Level Segment of the 41st UNESCO General Conference with the theme of the conference ‘invest in education.’

Sierra Leone is a member of the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee, committing to the Paris Declaration, which calls for Investing in the Futures of Education.

In his statement, Dr Sengeh said Sierra Leone has expanded access to quality education by continuously investing in education over the past three years.

“In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, while many other countries contracted their education financing, Sierra Leone expanded its education sector budget to 22%.”

Stating that the government  believes that  “equity, quality and efficiency are not competing goals in education.”

The Minister disclosed that the Radical Inclusion Policy reaffirms that the government’s will stop at nothing until every boy and every girl can access and stay safely in school, no matter their physical, cognitive, psychosocial and socioeconomic conditions.

Stressing that now is the time for UNESCO to strengthen its presence on the ground, around the world, to champion these priorities, including the harmonization of national, regional and global benchmarks, the tracking and timely reporting on progress towards our national and shared global goals, and advocating for more local investments.

An investment in education  is the best gift we can give our children. “These investments must be driven by evidence-based policy development and decision making; strengthen digitization and innovation within education; and promote open collaboration and access to quality learning and teaching materials”

And that until every child around the globe can have an equal opportunity to access quality education, the world will remain unequal and limited in its ability to harness our collective human capacity. To save our humanity, our best bet for a more equitable and sustainable world, we must double down our investments in education now – nothing more, nothing less”.

The statement by the Minister came after statements by different Heads of State including Emmanuel Macron.

The high-level segment will aim to create a global political momentum to raise the profile of education and its investment imperative. It will adopt the “Paris Declaration” to renew national and international leaders’ commitment to invest in education – domestically and internationally – and to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education).

Minister of Planning pledges Sierra Leone’s commitment to climate change

During the 112th session of Council of Ministers of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Francis Kai-kai pledged Sierra Leone’s commitment to the climate change.

This session was held virtually for three days with the Sierra Leone delegation led by the Minister of Planning and Economic Development and was attended by the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium, H.E Samuel Tamba Musa and Mr. Saifu George, First Secretary in the Embassy.

The Session considered the report of the Secretary-General of the OACPS and the report of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors submitted to the Council of Ministers for adoption.

 Key areas the Minister highlighted in an interview after the meeting was that of climate change, biodiversity and the resolution of the new name for the new partnership agreement which is the Samoa Agreement which has been endorsed by the Council.

This New Partnership-Agreement was initialed by both the OACPS and the EU in April, 2021 following negotiations by both sides and is to be signed later in 2021 or early 2022 in Samoa following the completion of procedures for approval.

As a country where fisheries remain a vibrant sector of the economy, the Minister of Economic Development endorsed the presentation on the state of play of the fisheries negotiations by the Foreign Minister of Jamaica, Kamina Johnson-Smith.

Minister Kai-Kai then committed Sierra Leone to the outcome of the next steps of negotiations on the matter.

 During the plenary proceedings relating to the presentation by the Secretary-General of the OACPS strategic plan of the organisation, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai made an intervention on the role of member states in the preparation of the strategic plan. He drew attention to the lessons learned from the European Development Fund (EDF) and counted on the preparedness of member states in terms of the benefits envisaged from the new partnership arrangement with the EU.

On the issue of climate change and climate financing, the Minister said in the interview that “climate change is a universal issue which we have recognized a long time ago” and as a country, he maintained, Sierra was very vulnerable to climate change in relation to some studies which have ranked the country as the third most vulnerable country to the affairs of climate change in the world.

He disclosed that Sierra Leone will continue to prioritize any action that would help mitigate the impact of climate change and the issue of biodiversity which contributes to climate change. He expressed Sierra Leone’s determination to be part of this global momentum to deal with climate change and sustainable development.  He expressed the willingness to support any legislation or resolution that would enable regulate the exploitation and ensure the utilization and conservation of our resources.

Another crucial area was one that had to do with the issue of digital connectivity and digital solutions programme to strengthen the resilience of education, health and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises systems to COVID-19 in ACPS countries.

With education being the flagship initiative of this government, Dr Francis Kai-Kai maintained that “we continue to support free, quality education” as according to the Minister, “22% of our national budget goes to this sector and a reasonable one goes to health and that of agriculture”. These are three legs of the flagship programme the Minister emphasized to promote human capital development and which the government remains very supportive of in terms of the resilience of the country to development.

Contact

Betty Milton 

Information Attachè

+32 467605529

information.attache@be.slembassy.gov. sl

Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium engages EEAS

By Betty Milton | Information Attache Belgium

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, Kingdom of Netherlands, France, Greece, Dutch-of Luxemburg, Vatican and European Union Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa has met with Mr. Richard Young, Head of  West Africa division  of the European union External Action Services (EEAS).

The meeting was held at the EEAS Building in Schuman, Brussels.

In his remarks, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa thanked Mr. Richard YOUNG, Head of Division, and his team for accepting the Embassy’s request for a meeting.

Stating further that the meeting is geared towards establishing a direct link with the EEAS and to inform the team about some of the transformations taking place in Sierra Leone, noting the opportunities and challenges and possibility of intensifying cooperation.

The Ambassador noted the importance to connect with the Department directly as to exchange ideas and build relationships and the need for the two sides to continue their collaboration to help Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Musa stated that as Mr. Richard YOUNG has toured and worked a lot in Africa, he must be familiar with the situations in the continent, revealing that Sierra Leone has achieved a lot of transformation through the partnership with the European Union.

The issues raised by the Sierra Leone Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa included the EU-SL Cooperation, the MIP and current pipeline,  digitalization- building scientific and technological capacity, Green deal operationalization, Infrastructure support, Investment plans and Schengen Visa (EEAS).

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador highlight some of the achievements made by the Government as it has removed the death penalty from the law books and has also repealed the libel law which was an impediment to the practice of journalism in Sierra Leone.

In the area of peace, he stressed “the Government has set up Peace Commission following peace conference involving key stakeholders including all political parties and civil society for the consolidation of peace in the country”.

The government has rolled out the free quality education and developed a digitalization strategy and is committed to reinforcing the support for the digital technologies and services such as access to education, health and governance.

Further revealing that the government is deepening decentralization and has revised the Sexual offences act, set up the Sexual offences court and at an advanced stage with the gender empowerment bill.

On the issue of the Schengen Visa he said this remains a thorny issue in Sierra Leone as people have to travel out of Sierra Leone to be issued with visa. That ways be explored to see how the EU could help facilitate the issuance of Schengen visa in Freetown.

In his statement, the Head of the EEAS West Africa division, Mr.  Richard Young expressed satisfaction for the initiative taken to  visit by the Ambassador and delegation.

He commended the Government for the steps taken in the various areas highlighted by the Ambassador.

Noting that the death penalty is of concern to the EU given the challenges associated with situations where there are weak judicial systems, and where a person will not be given a second chance when once they have been sentenced so he appreciated the effort of the government.

He highlighted the priority areas for the EU including Human capital development, energy, education and the environment, which are being elaborated between the EU delegation and the government of Sierra Leone.

On the issue of the Schengen Visa, Mr. Young highlighted the challenges associated with the Schengen visa issue on the EU side. And that this issue he emphasized, requires careful dialogue.

The EEAS is the European Union’s diplomatic service. It helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to EU Elected VP of Sustainable Development Committee for OACPS

Brussels, Belgium, Friday 19 February, 2021- Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and accredited to six other countries and the European Union (EU), Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa has been elected as Vice President of the Sustainable Development Committee of the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean, Pacific States (OACPS).

  At the same time, Ambassador Musa will be representing the West Africa Group of Ambassadors on the Committee.

The focus areas of the Committee include rural development and food security; environment and climate change; research for sustainable development; education; health; information society; and other Intra OACPS cooperation programmes, which are aligned with the New Direction manifesto, the Medium-Term Development plan and on-going work by the New Direction to achieve the  Sustainable Development Goals(SDGS).

 Taking up the position as Vice President, Ambassador Tamba Musa said he was very happy to be playing a representational role that placed him in a position to use his experience and skills in putting relevant contextual issues for national development at the centre of global discussions to benefit his country and other member countries of the OACPS.

 “It is an opportunity to be involved in productive partnerships for sustainable development in the context of the work of OACPS,”Ambassador Tamba Musa said.

 “The Government of Sierra Leone under the Leadership of His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio is increasingly  investing in Free Quality

 Education, Infrastructure development, Health, Agriculture, Science, Technology and Innovations, taking into consideration factors that reinforce sustainability,” HE Musa concluded.

 The Committee of Ambassadors is the second decision-making body of the OACPS. It acts on behalf of the Council of Ministers between ministerial sessions. It comprises Ambassadors from every State of OACPS who assist the Council of Ministers in its functions and in carrying

out any mandate assigned as well as monitoring the implementation of the OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement with a view to achieving its stated objectives.

Contact

Betty Milton 

Information Attachè

+32 467605529

information.attache@be.slembassy.gov. sl

Sierra Leone participates in the 111th OACPS session of Council of Ministers.

At the  111th session of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS-EU) the Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Francis Kaikai expressed ” deep appreciation for the progress on the negotiations for a new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement”

Noting “with satisfaction the efforts at all levels aimed at ensuring a more meaningful cooperation with mutual and complementary interests”.

The delegation was led by the  Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Francis Kaikai which comprised  of Mr Solomon Jamiru, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation and Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa, accredited to the EU.

At the meeting which was held virtually on the 14, 15 and 17 December, Minister Kaikai reiterated that they have been following with keen interest the state of play of the “post-Cotonou negotiations and the report of the Committee of Ambassadors and that of the report by the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group(CNG).

“We note that the Negotiators of the OACPS and the EU have signed off on the text of a broad 20-year partnership deal to succeed the Cotonou Agreement”.

Speaking about the new treaty, which is expected to enter into force in December 2021, the Minister of Planning and Economic development stated that they should take the opportunity to reflect during this period on one of the critical decisions they have taken which is the closure of national and regional authorising offices, ” given the changes in the structure of the agreement, a common foundation to all countries, which sets out shared values and priorities, along with three regional protocols for Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific”.

Adding there is need for clarity in the months ahead on the governance and implementation structures that will replace the National and Regional authorizing offices as they will cease to exist in the new agreement.

“We note that the ratification process will proceed throughout 2021. This will obviously give space to make some adjustments to the text before they are finally initialed”.

Sierra Leone, the Minister went on, attaches great importance to the governance and implementation structures for thematic areas, ranging from sustainable development and growth, to human rights and peace and security in the new deal geared towards empowering each region. To this end, Sierra Leone proposes that the governance and implementation structures be featured in the final reflections before the new deal is approved, signed and ratified by all parties.

 H.E Georges Rebelo Pinto did not attend the meeting because he has been affected by Covid-19.

The Assistant Secretary General( ASP) H.E. Prof. Palamagamba John spoke about Intra ACP Sustainable Widlife Management (SWM) Programme white Paper and policy brief titled “build back better in a post COVID-19 world- Reducing future wildlife-borne spill-over of disease to humans”.

The Programme highlights the importance of effective implementation of integrated public health solutions, such as the “One Health Approach”.

The ASP disclosed that an addendum to the Programme Financing Agreement for a €1 million top-up was signed, in August 2020 and this will allow the Climate Support Facility (CSF) to continue implementing its demand-driven technical assistance to countries and regions up until May 2022.

The Programme goal he said, is to contribute to fostering sustainable development, through the prevention of desertification, preservation of ecological biodiversity, sustainable use of water management in Members of the OACPS, by improving the decision-making process through informed adaptation options to climate variability and change.

The overall objective is to strengthen the climate service value chain through building the capacities of decision-makers at all levels to make effective use of climate information and services.

At the end of the meeting, the Council approved eight decisions and two resolutions on key issues affecting its Member States (MS) and pertaining to the administrative and financial management of the Organisation during the 111th session of the OACPS Council of Ministers.

The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) is a group of countries in Africa  the Caribbean and the Pacific  that was created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. Formerly known as African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the organisation’s main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within its member states, as well as their greater integration into the world’s economy.

 

Contact

Betty Milton

Information Attaché

Brussels, Belgium

+32467605529

information.attache@be.slembassy.gov. sl