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China in Africa, lifting the bars of people-to-people and political diplomacy; prospect and desire of a coming Ambassador PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Baimba Sesay –IA, PR China   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 23:26

Sierra Leone’s sustained growth continues to make great progress with specific reference to the governance period of President Ernest Koroma. During his first five years, he moved the country toward a change drive. That was done, successfully as demonstrated in areas of infrastructure, in energy generation and distribution, agriculture and fighting corruption. This is same at the diplomatic front. President Koroma in January 2012, appointed Victor Bockarie as Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Peoples Republic of China, with accreditation to several other countries in south-east Asia.


Ambassador Foh’s appointment came at a time Sierra Leone is moving with a prosperity drive, spearheaded by the country’s President. This prosperity drive is as important for our economic growth, as it is with the role of China in the fulfillment of this all important agenda. When discussing the Sino-Sierra Leone relation, one thing to be made apparent is also the significant role that Sierra Leone played in pushing for China’s entrance into the United Nations. That was after diplomatic relations were entered into by 1971 between the two countries. President Koroma attaches great significance to the friendship and diplomatic ties between the two countries. In 2011,he spoke of the special ties between Sierra Leone and China, whilst calling for further efforts toward strengthening those ties, not only on government level but to deepen the interface at the private sector level. For President Koroma, "China is becoming a market of the future and we (Sierra Leone) must take advantage of that…" especially in trying to cooperate with multilateral institutions.

China is indeed a growing world economic power. China’s foreign trade in 2012 was at $3.87 trillion, given the fact that the country is the world’s biggest world’s exporter and second largest importer and these expanding imports, according to China Daily, will enhance the country’s influence in global market. This is encouraging for developing nations especially for third world nations. China is Africa’s strategic develop0ment partner. Practically, China‘s continued emergence as a major trading partner for Africa is expected to continue growing. The International Business Daily of China-Africa (February 2012) reported that China’s export to Africa’s rose by 5% in 2012, which was seen as a faster growth than to other regions. It quoted figures released by Standard Bank that 18% of African imports in 2012 came from China as compared to 16.8% in 2011, 10% in 2008 and 4.5% a decade ago.

The Sino-Africa development cooperation is not only limited to trade but takes into account infrastructure. Zhai Jun is quoted by China Daily (February 22-28) as saying Africa faces numerous challenges and as such "China will play a role as a firm supporter of its renaissance and unification by making contributions where they are needed and wanted" In fact, in a Policy Brief, Volume1, Issue 4, 29 July, 2010, the African Development Bank Group Chief Economist Complex, writing on "Chinese Trade and Investment Activities in Africa" made the point, that "official Chinese economic activities in Africa are structured on a bilateral basis, with discussions being held between China‘s central government and its African counterparts." Thus, in line with the context of development cooperation, we see several Chinese state-owned banks devoting their operations to backing China‘s presence in Africa.

This is an encouraging development given China’s model of development cooperation with African governments. Presenting a paper at a Partnership workshop in Beijing, February 2013, on "China’s Engagement and Aid Effectiveness in Africa, including Trade, Investment and Special Economic Zones" Sierra Leonean born Professor Franklyn Lisk from the Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization (CSGR), Warwick University submitted that Chinese Model of Development Cooperation is focussed on among other frameworks; Mutual relations and benefits: ‘win-win’, partnership, ‘shared growth’, country ownership and Investment-oriented: trade, special economic zones, industrialisation.

Sierra Leone continues to utilize all options available in line with her desires to fostering socio-economic and infrastructural development. Ambassador Bockarie Foh recently spoke of his determination to further strengthen the relationship between Sierra Leone and China by moving beyond the tradition diplomacy of infrastructural development, but also sustain the political diplomacy that once existed as demonstrated in the ties between President Siaka Stevens and Mao Zedong of Sierra Leone and China, respectively.

Strengthening such ties is something that the Director-General of the Bureau of African Affairs International Department of the Central Committee Communist Party of China, Cao Baijun has always welcomed. In May 2012, he spoke of how his department "would want to further such relationship" This should come into play taking into account when in 1978; Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Ji Pengfei visited Sierra Leone as was also the case in 1984, when Vice Premier Tian Jiyun visited Sierra Leone, among other high profile visits. On the Sierra Leone side, President Siaka Stevens, founding father of Sino-Sierra Leone relations, visited China in 1973, two years following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as was also the case with President Ernest Bai Koroma, Leader of the ruling party in Sierra Leone, who visited China twice, in three years of becoming President. There are several other high profile visits.

Forging traditional and political diplomacy is not Victor Foh’s only desire. He spoke of wanting to learn from China on how to promote issues of women and children. The need to also constantly engage investment institutions like China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) and Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) is as crucial as the need for Ambassador Foh to be supported by and sundry. Exim-Bank is the world’s third largest export credit agency, with a mandate to "implement state policies in industry, foreign trade and economy, finance and foreign affairs". The vast majority of infrastructure financing arrangements done by China in the African continent are reportedly financed by the China Exim Bank. The Bank has financed over 300 projects in Africa, with infrastructure, being the core of its undertakings. On the other hand, with representative offices in four African countries; South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia, CADFund was established in 2006 as the first equity investment fund in the country, primarily focusing on investment in Africa. It has an aim of enhancing China-Africa economic cooperation and promotes Africa’s development through direct investment. As of last year the agency, the agency had invested about 2.3 billion dollars in Africa with over 30 projects, including their investment in Real Estates in Sierra Leone. (Source:, Hu Zhirong, Vice President for CADFund 2012). There is great work ahead and Victor Foh will surely succeed, with our collective support.



26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.


Business News

Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone

John D. Okrafo-Smart, Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and gives his insight into the banking landscape.

Excerpts shared by Sheriff Mahmud Ismail

The Government of Sierra Leone is placing great priority in improving the business climate, enhancing infrastructure and support to private sector development. In line with the government focus, the Central Bank is targeting price stability in support of economic recovery, enhancing monetary policy instruments and liquidity management and also limiting intervention in the foreign exchange market, which will be important to preserve foreign exchange reserves.

The above measures will help in the strengthening of the banking system to support financial intermediation. Commercial banks are thus poised to benefit and take advantage of the improved economic and business environment by offering better services to their customers, including loans and overdrafts and forex to import, thereby creating wealth and boosting government revenue.


Media News

Two veteran Journalists, now in the United States have paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador

Two very respected and veteran Journalists who are in the United States of America for various reasons have called on Sierra Leone’s Amr. Bockari Kortu Stevens not only to appreciate the work of the Embassy, but also to pay courtesy as protocol demands.

Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson, former Lecturer Fourah Bay College, former Director of Information Ministry of Information and Communications, Former Director Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Former Chairman Independent Media Commission (IMC) and stringer French News Agency  etc. is on vacation and Mr. Cyril Juxon Smith Director Information and Communications House of Parliament, former Acting Director General Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) and former UNESCO Media Consultant  is in the United States of America to attend the funeral of his father.

Speaking at the Ambassador’s residence on 4821 Colorado Avenue, Washington DC  Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson said “Thank  you Amr. Stevens for accommodating us in the middle of your tight schedule, and also to discuss with us in a homely spirit.



Dr. Tam Baryoh’s Only Crime!

Boris Johnson as a Journalist worked at The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers. He edited The Spectator newspaper between 1999 and 2006. He was Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and was also Mayor of London. He is a member of the Conservative Party and the current UK Foreign Secretary.

Nnamdi Azikiwe was to serve as the first president of independent Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. He opened and edited a number of newspapers in Ghana and Nigeria and later became an active politician. Obafemi Awolowo was a great Nigerian politician. He also was an active journalist and edited The Nigerian Worker, amongst other publications.

There is a clear link between politics and journalism though, there seems to be a very thin boundary, or perhaps, “a reflective door in the firewall, such that with time, politicians and journalists cross the line changing roles and moving from side to side,” argues Aminat Afolabi in a piece, titled ‘Politics and Journalism, the Interwoven Relationship between Them.”


View Point

The APC Convention: A political façade, if not a joke!

Thanks to AYV partnered by AFCOM, I was able to followthe live coverage of the APC and SLPP conventions on my mobile phone from my base in the UK.It was good that both conventions took place simultaneously last week end (October 15-16, 2017) because, at the very least, it provided the opportunity to those keenly following the two historic events to compare and contrast them, not least in terms of democratic processes and procedures. Let me start by talking about how I saw the APC convention held in Makeni, then compare,and contrast it with what I saw at the SLPP convention held in Freetown.


News - Press Release

EU Election Exploratory Mission meets Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

(MFAIC Press Office, 18th October, 2017). The European Union Election Exploratory Mission to Sierra Leone led by Head of European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, H.E. Tom Vens has paid a working visit to the Minister, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara and Senior Management Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at the Ministry’s office in Tower Hill, Freetown.

Ambassador Tom Vens stated that the EU Election Exploratory Mission is in Sierra Leone following an invitation by the Government of Sierra Leone for EU Electoral assistance, and to further discuss the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in facilitating EU Observer Mission for the March 2018 elections in the country. The EU Election Exploratory Missionas part of its mandate is in the country to draft and finalise the MOU with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Foreign Ministry.


Society -Local News

The State of World Population 2017: Unchecked inequality and failure to protect the rights of poorest women could undermine peace and world’s development goals, new UNFPA report warns

• Only about half of the world’s women hold paid jobs

• Globally, women earn 77 per cent of what men get

• Three in five women worldwide lack maternity leave, many pay “motherhood penalty”

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE, 17 October 2017-Unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and development, according the The State of World Population 2017, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

The costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals, adds the new UNFPA report, entitled, “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality.”



U.S. Ambassador launches National Early Warning Systems Project, funded by USAID

On Wednesday, October 18, U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria E. Brewer, announced the official launch of the USAID West Africa-funded “Mitigating Election Violence through National Early Warning Systems” (NEWS) project and the inauguration of the National Elections Response Group in Sierra Leone.

Supported by $500,000 from USAID, NEWS is implemented by the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in Sierra Leone. The focus is to monitor and identify potential electoral violence triggers and assist government and non-government organizations in Sierra Leone to better mitigate them.
The National Elections Response Group (NERG) is a partnership under the NEWS project, between WANEP, the Inter-Religious Council, the Campaign for Good Governance, government stakeholders, representatives from the National Electoral Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Office of National Security (ONS) and a number of civil society organizations.

The primary objective of the National Elections Response Group (NERG) is to monitor the elections environment, develop, and recommend strategies and actions to relevant stakeholders with authority to implement necessary response actions to prevent escalation of tensions or incidence of violence for a peaceful 2018 election. Members of the NERG will work closely with WANEP, the Integrated Election Security Planning Committee under the ONS, Provincial and District Election Security Committees – PROSEC and DISEC with an extensive network of civil society organizations and with 60 community monitors across the country to identify potential risks of electoral violence.



PRESIDENT KOROMA SAYS… “I am very proud of Ansumana Usman Koroma”

President Dr Ernest BaiKoroma has informed Sierra Leoneans that, “I am very proud that we have people like Ansumana. We need many more Ansumana Usman Koromas that will go out there as Ambassadors of our country, showing and telling a good story about Sierra Leone.”

Whilst speaking at his Presidential office in Freetown, President Koroma affirmed that, “I am very proud of Ansumana and I am encouraging him to do more by helping his people.”

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