President Akufo-Addo wraps up One-Day visit to Sierra Leone

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has wrapped up a one-day friendly and working visit to Sierra Leone during which the two leaders held bilateral talks aimed at strengthening relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Welcoming his Ghanaian counterpart, President Koroma recalled the long-standing relationship between the two countries and congratulated President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his victory at last year’s polls making him the fifth leader of the fourth Republic of Ghana. President Koroma described the relations between the two countries as outstanding and excellent.

The two leaders held extensive talks and expressed the urgent need for West Africa to focus on developing their economies, mobilize resources, provide indigenous solutions to local problems, develop a roadmap for strategic development and enhance the aspirations of ECOWAS, the African Union as well as leveraging South-South cooperation.

At a joint press conference with President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, the Ghanaian leader praised his host for restoring law and order and fostering the spirit of national reconciliation in the country. President Akufo-Addo described President Koroma as the man that has worked the talk, citing the economic boom that was experienced in 2013. He also stated that the two countries will work side by side for the progress and dignity of the two nations as well as enhance cooperation for trade and investment.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that despite the close relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone, there is no general framework for cooperation and therefore expressed concern over the delay in the ratification of the trade and investment agreement signed in December 2013. He made firm commitment to push the agreement for ratification by the Ghanaian parliament on his return to Ghana and called on the Sierra Leone Parliament to do the same.

President Koroma Receives Turkish Envoy

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma last Friday 26th May 2017 received a delegation from Turkey led by the Vice President of Maarif Foundation who also doubles as Special Envoy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey, Ambassador Dr Asson Yavuz at State House in Freetown.

Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma described his recent visit to Turkey as successful and expressed his satisfaction with the follow up action from the Turkish government. He described his Turkish counterpart as a man of action, saying that there is no doubt that Turkey is playing a significant role in the region.

The president informed the delegation about the recent visit of Turkish Airline to Sierra Leone, followed by a group of experts who examined the energy sector, while soliciting support for information and communication technology (ICT), education, health, among others. He assured the government of Turkey of making available a piece land for the construction of the Turkish Embassy premises, and reiterated the call for the commencement of operations by the Turkish Airline.

President Koroma welcomed the establishment of a Sierra Leone – Turkish Educational Center through the Maarif Foundation. The Maarif Foundation project covers primary to university education and the best students will proceed to Turkey for their higher degree education. He said a suitable location will be identified for the educational center and called for collaboration to fighting terrorism as it was not only a Turkish issue. He congratulated the people of Turkey for resisting the coup makers.

According to Special Envoy Dr Yavuz, Maarif Foundation is a Turkish Non-Governmental Organization set up by President Erdogan to provide educational support and replace schools abroad sponsored by Gulen movement. He pointed out that the delegation was in Sierra Leone to explore opportunities on how to enhance cooperation.

Dr Yavuz conveyed the profound appreciation of the Government and People of Turkey for the solidarity shown by the Government of Sierra Leone during the 15th July 2016 coup, adding that the coup makers wanted to assassinate President Erdogan.

President Koroma and EU discuss Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the European Union today Monday 29 May held discussions on Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement at State House in Freetown.

Article 8 of the said agreement is an integrated framework based on partnership and promoting cooperation, trade and political dialogue.

Addressing the European Union delegation, President Koroma said the meeting explains and provides a clearer understanding of the agreement and practices. Moving forward, the president pointed out the importance of managing the country’s economy and making sure that government meets the 2018 electoral calendar. He declared the completion of the national voter registration exercise, delimitation of constituencies and districts and work in progress on the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources achieving export facilities to the EU Market, national Non-Governmental Organizations Policy, Female Genital Mutilation Policy, review on the National strategy on teenage pregnancy, land legislation that will attract both local and international investment, establishment of technical school for skills empowerment, review of the criminal libel law as well as working on an infrastructure on electoral security.

On the review of the Criminal Seditious Libel Law, President Koroma underscored the significance of continued engagement with relevant stakeholders and going through the process for the review of the said legislation. He noted that there was no plan to shutdown social media but clearly stated that government will respond appropriately to any threat that undermines the peace and security of the state. “We will take appropriate actions as a responsible government,” he said. He encouraged all to work together to close the elections funding gap of Twenty Million Dollars as well as support the ongoing national civil registration exercise.

The Head of the EU delegation in Sierra Leone, Mr Peter Versteeg expressed delight over the frank exchange of issues of national interest and reiterates EU’s support to the country. He welcomed the request of government to fill in an observer mission for the 2018 elections and thanked the Government of Sierra Leone for hosting the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Conference. He also encouraged Sierra Leone to participate in the Fourth “Our Ocean” Conference slated for 5th and 6th October 2017 in Malta and the next EU/Africa Summit scheduled to take place in Cote D’voire in November 2017. The British High Commissioner, Mr Guy Warrington and other speakers shared common sentiments on holding credible and peaceful elections in 2018, district boundaries delimitation, raising money to close the funding gap, improving the investment climate of the country, human rights and civil society among others.

President Koroma Commends World Bank Group

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma Tuesday 30th May 2017 praised the Vice President and Operating Officer of Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group (WBG), Karin Finkelston and the Vice President of Development Finance of the WBG, Axel van Trotsenburg for their timely interventions in support of the private sector in Africa.

He made the acknowledgement at a meeting with the World Bank Group and MIGA executives at State House in Freetown. Government, President Koroma maintained, is set for additional engagement with the private sector in Sierra Leone.

Both Axel van Trotsenburg and Karin Finkelston thanked President Koroma for opening Monday’s Development Finance Forum and reported that strong messages on private partnership dialogue emerged during their group discussions.

Axel van Trotsenburg suggested a dialogue with all partners including the international community and noted that the interest of fragile states needs to be intensified as the Bank has seen a lot of positive feedbacks. He disclosed that the Bank would ensure that Africa and Sierra Leone in particular have a lot of engagements going forward.