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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.

 

Editorial

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.

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PARLIAMENT RATIFIES TWO AGREEMENTS TO IMPROVE ON PORTS FACILITIES

The Parliament of Sierra Leone on Monday 04th December 2017 debated and ratified two additional agreements aimed at improving and expanding Ports facilities in Sierra Leone to be at par with international best practices.

Presenting both Agreements prior to ratification, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma said that the additional Agreements are geared towards addressing some of the concerns raised by MPs, in respect of expanding our Ports facilities to accommodate larger vessels, and the issuance of license with the view of combating money laundering, contra-band goods, and attracting more funds for Government.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House, also supported the ratification of the two Agreements, saying if our Ports are not developed, we would not be able to attract huge vessels; thus the need for the continuous improvement of our Ports facilities.

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

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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.

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A government which expends its energy for the benefit of the people is a progressive government and that is what Sierra Leoneans want at this time after being in the doldrums for ages. It is therefore absolutely necessary for fellow citizens to refrain from casting their valued votes in favor of candidates because of tribal or regional affiliations but on how genuine and capable that candidate is, otherwise stagnation in progress is bound to follow.

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Youth Unemployment Is A Killer Virus In Sierra Leone

“I studied Sociology at NjalaUniversity and graduated in 2015 but still unemployed despite several interviews being attended. I am currently awaiting my MSc at Njala University which is to be awarded early next year,” said 29 year old MabintyKamara.

“I graduated in 2012 with Honours from the Department of Accounting, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. I have sent several job applications; the only long job I got was with the International Medical Corps during the deadly Ebola virus and since then no job. I was also a volunteer teacher but the Minister of Education, Science and Technology did not approve me and others after almost a year of voluntary service so I quit,” said 31 year old Mohamed LaminKanneh.

In Sierra Leone, despite the numerous promises made by President Ernest BaiKoroma to figuratively ‘lay his life for the youth,’ unemployment among youth is one of the highest with no end in sight to reduce the spate of this social menace. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment.

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FREETOWN, December 13, 2017 —The World Bank Group has approved aSupplemental Financing (SF) in the amount of US$10 million to help the Government of Sierra Leone meet immediate needs associated with the landslide and flooding disaster that struck Freetown on August 14, 2017.The SF is a grant, provided as a supplemental budget support operation that will flow directly into the Government’s budget.

The funding, under the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), will ensure that the reforms supported under thisoperation remain on track and are implemented without the risk of delays due to competing capacity or budgetary priorities arising from the post-disaster recovery. It will also help with the rebuilding of critical infrastructuredestroyed during the landslide and flooding.

Since the end of the Ebola epidemic, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has initiated substantive reforms to boost productivity, restore fiscal stability, and gradually rebuild buffers. The Government initiated substantive reforms, focusing on agriculture, fisheries and energy, supported by the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), to boost productivity and start rebuilding the country's buffers.

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John Baimba Sesay is a native of Kapethe Village, Safroko Limba Chiefdom, with chiefdom headquarter town of Binkolo, in Constituency 034, Bombali District. The Constituency covers Safroko Limba and Pakimasabong Chiefdoms in the same district.

Born in the early 1980’s, he holds Bachelor of Arts (BA) Mass Communication, with Hons, 2004-2008 from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He also holds a post graduate Master of Arts (MA), Mass Communication (2009- June 2010) degree from the same university.

John Baimba is my colleague based in Beijing. Having worked for a number of daily newspapers, including, Independent Observer, For Di People and Awoko, he has a wealth of experience in journalism.

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FREETOWN, December13, 2017 —The World Bank Group on November 17, 2017 approved Additional Financing in the amount of US$59.57 million to West African Power Pool (WAPP) - Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) PowerInterconnection Project, which aims to increase electricity supply in the four participating countries.

The project will interconnect the four participating countries into the 225 kV (kilo volt) regional energy market in West Africa, and will also enable the connection to the WAPP of the planned hydropower plants in Bumbuna Extension, Yiben and Bekongor in Sierra Leone and Mount Coffee in Liberia and other future generation projects.

The Project will provide residents of Greater Monrovia Area in Liberia; Bo, Kenema and the Western Areas in Sierra Leone; and the Forest Region of Guinea, with improvements in power supplies in the short-term. It also pursues a regional infrastructure developmental approach that will provide over the medium- to long-term adequate electricity to the people of the four countries in a more efficient and cost effective way, boosting economic and social development.

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Politics

It will not be Business as Usual…Bio assures Diaspora

He was passionate, confident and assuring as he addressed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans at the prestigious Royal Regency Hall in London on Saturday 9th December 2017 with a very simple message that as the next President it will not be business as usual. For a man who has a solid track record as a disciplinarian, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio continues to attract many voters who feel the country needs a strong and disciplined leadership.

Cataloguing the current state of the country, Bio spoke about a divided country, the poor drowning in poverty, rich swimming in affluence, poor governance, battered economy, high public debt, third hungriest country, high inflation among others . He also reminded his audience that many of the things which necessitated the war such as bad governance, mismanagement of the economy, injustice have been the features of the current APC Government.

However, Bio's message was not just about the doom and gloom but also making a case why he is the right choice that the country needs. He spoke about his track record, experience and how he has always put his country first. "Some have come with slogan, country first, but I served my country first at a very tender age. I did not go around the world to work and come back old to say country first. When I was young I gave my life to our country," a passionate Bio said.

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