DEPUTY AMBASSADOR CALLS ON SIERRA LEONEANS FOR COMMITTMENT TO NATIONAL COHESION

As part of the Mission’s mandate to engage and coordinate diaspora activities to contribute meaningfully to Sierra Leone’s development trajectory, the Deputy Ambassador of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Belgium, Harold Bundu Saffa, has called on Sierra Leoneans in the Netherlands to build strong commitment through engagement with various organisations to attract development for Sierra Leone.

Deputy Ambassador made the statement during the Sierra Leone Central Union Dinner and Awards of committed Sierra Leoneans in Europe held over the weekend.

Speaking on the topic “Community Cohesion for National Development”, the Deputy Ambassador stated that the theme was not only necessary because it challenged each Sierra Leonean to dig deeper into making them a strong Community of Sierra Leoneans in the Netherlands but also good citizens in the diaspora playing a critical role in the country’s development.

On the approaches to building a strong community, he maintained, “We must accept that we all have different plans and purposes for which we are here. But the thread that runs through us is the need to better ourselves and our families. In the pursuit of that goal, we need not just our individual talents and skills, but we also need strong social networks for various reasons”.

The DA echoed that they could not build a strong community by engaging in anti-social activities on social media, or refusing to give up a little bit of their time towards the activities of their community, noting further that “you help build a strong community by being selfless, law-abiding, an active participant in the activities of that community.”

“As a diaspora community, we do not live and operate in silos; we live alongside our host communities. Therefore, we should never forget that our actions, and sometimes inactions have a direct impact on our host countries,

“It is imperative to always remember that you are Ambassadors of your Sierra Leone. Keeping that in mind, whatever steps you take, individually or collectively, you will be judged by your comportment,” the DA said.

DA Saffa also noted that a strong community with a critical and progressive mindset could be a pillar of the country’s core beliefs and values, thereby positively impacting Sierra Leone.

Concluding, he went on to challenge them, “It will be a contradiction to claim to have a sense of belonging to one’s country if one is engaging in acts that have the potential to cause violence and instability in one’s country.  You cannot claim to have a sense of belonging if your actions cast a pall on the image of your country and scare away investors who are likely to bring employment opportunities to your compatriots. Maintaining your contributions, especially remittance will not have a positive impact if you engage in fueling violence and instability.”

The President of the Sierra Leone Central Union (SLCU), Mohamed Alie Bah, highlighted some of the activities they had undertaken in Sierra Leone over the years, inclusive of the construction of a school in Lungi. The President commended the government for its bold step to recognise the school, thereby providing them vouchers for salaries. That, he said, was a testament to the government’s priority on education.

Mohamed Alie Bah further disclosed that they were faced with challenges in continuing their development strides in Sierra Leone because of COVID, but that they had come back strong, which had urged them to have SLCU Branch in Sierra Leone. He observed that the awards were a form of recognition for the hard work of Sierra Leoneans in Europe, which would serve as a motivation to others.

Sierra Leone Embassy Engages New Honorary Consul

The Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels has, in two respective meetings, engaged the newly appointed Honorary Consul for the Netherlands, Madam Antoinette Mutesa and the through the Consulate of Sierra Leone in The Hague.

In his remarks, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa welcomed the team with the hope that the meeting would be the beginning of a great relationship that would foster a shared benefit between the Embassy and Consulate for the country’s good.

Ambassador Musa further stated that the benefit of working with the Consul and Advisory Board would lead to great networking and intense relationships, leading to better connections and positive outcomes.

The Honorary Consul Madam Antoinette Mutesa in her statement, Cited the famous phrase, “if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go with people”, the Honorary Consul stated that she had decided to engage and include them as Advisory Board as they all have the same vision to map out a holistic approach to attract investment opportunities for Sierra Leone.

The task force, she maintained, was adopted to allow the respective sectors to support different agendas of the country as well as the priorities of the Embassy “so that we engage in a way that is holistic with people we share similar values, believing that the most vulnerable population should be at the centre of the engagement, thereby ensuring that women and youths are taken into consideration”.

Madam Mutesa further assured that her office would collaborate with the Netherlands Government on the welfare of Sierra Leoneans.

Introducing themselves during the engagement, the two members of the Board, Hendrika Dingemans Bloemendal, a Dutch Citizen, revealed she was into International Trade, mainly supply chain and at the same time serving as an adviser to Dutch Companies investing abroad, whilst Paul Bessems, informed he was Chairman of Weconmics Foundation doubling as an International Speaker and trainer.

They pledged their support to work with the Embassy, aiming to set up a working programme on data-driving organizing, which they hope to accomplish in Sierra Leone.

Another area highlighted by the Ambassador was the European Union Global Gateway Strategy, which addresses climate change, investment and research and Europe Horizon.

Other Diplomatic staff made presentations on their scope of work as well as other assigned duties, which include Diaspora engagement and Fisheries by Deputy Ambassador Harold Bundu Saffa, Consular activities by the Head of Chancery Albert Coker and Consular Officer Aruna Kargbo, Trade, Investment and Culture by the Financial Secretary Issa Donald Newman, Communications and visibility by Information, Attache Betty Milton.

Deputy Ambassador in Belgium  joins Sierra Leone Diasporas in Holland celebrate Salone day 

The Deputy Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Mission to the European Union, also accredited to the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Harold Bundu Saffa, joined his compatriot Diasporas in Eindhoven over the weekend to celebrate Sierra Leone and used the moment to call on Diaspora Sierra Leoneans in the European Union to be bridge-heads in attracting foreign direct investments to their country.

He was guest speaker at a network event organized by Sierra Leoneans and their Dutch counterparts interested in the development of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Saffa called on the Diasporas not to seek comfort as bystanders, but to be active participants in the development aspirations of their country. He said the Embassy is playing the mediating role between Diasporas and their government to facilitate any such process.

The Deputy Ambassador furthered that whilst the Government of Sierra Leone encourages investment opportunities in the country, he stressed the importance of “the special pride” one derives when one takes investment opportunities to their country of origin and that investment flourishes to better fellow citizens and the country at large.

Ambassador Saffa went on to state that the importance of Diasporas should not only be seen in the context of remittances, or even in engaging in petty business ventures, but should also be seen contributing immensely to the growth of the nation through national capacity building. The Deputy Ambassador assured his compatriots of a very strong political will at the very top of Government that prioritizes the importance of the Diaspora contributions to national development.

He cited the Office of Diaspora Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as a clear indication of how strategic the Government of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio sees Diaspora citizens.

To this end, the Ambassador went on, the Embassy has a twin track approach, which involves the adult segments of the Diaspora communities, but also, paying attention and harnessing the potential of the Second and Third Generation of the Diaspora communities. In both groupings Ambassador Saffa explained, the Embassy is embarking on skills mapping as a way of attracting talents into Sierra Leone to augment the national capacity building efforts.

The network event took the format of an interactive session, where both participants from business organisations as well as those in NGOs discussed the potentials in either investment opportunities, or creating NGOs to further the development trajectories of Sierra Leone.

There were also discussions around the difficulties that the Diaspora communities encounter whilst trying to establish businesses in Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Ambassador was able to reply to some of these concerns raised by participants, but also promised to contact the competent agencies of Government for further clarification and action.

At the end of the network event, there was a Plan of Action; to set up a Task Force that will be responsible for putting into action some of the key points.

The Deputy Ambassador is part of the Task Force with the broad remit to organize a possible investment conference for Sierra Leone.

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.

 

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”.