|President Koroma Welcomes Italian and Malaysian Envoys, Launches Pan-African E-network|
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday 2nd November 2009 welcomed two new envoys from Italy and Malaysia who presented their letters of credence respectively and separately at a State House ceremony. The new Italian Ambassador, Giancarlo Izzo, told President Koroma that Italy has been following with keen interest the efforts that the government has made in changing the image of the country, noting that governance is not an easy task.
He commended the nation's democratic system, while promising to strengthen his government's support to that effect. He observed that there are many Italians in Sierra Leone contributing to development, especially those at SALCOST, while pledging his government's contribution to the second phase of the Bumbuna hydro project.
"We are likewise encouraged by the successful efforts towards institutional reform in the country, aware that it i s not an easy road, but one that must be travelled if concrete progress is to be made.
While noting Sierra Leone's enormous strides in privatization and economic revival, he announced that, "It will be also useful to discuss the use of funds resulting from the total cancellation of the foreign debt owed to Italy by Sierra Leone (a total of USD million 72.55)."
Responding, President Koroma said the bilateral relations between Italy and Sierra Leone have been further strengthened recently through the exchange of visits by high ranking officials, especially the Foreign Minister of Italy Franco Frattini's visit to Sierra Leone and the warm welcome accorded to Vice President Sam Sumana and his delegation in Italy.
"Italy has been one of the main supporters of our development efforts, particularly in the energy sector. It is heartening to note that after several years of support to the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project up to completion, your Government has again expressed its willingness to further support the development of the second phase of the project.
It is our fervent hope that our other development partners will follow your lead in supporting this great project," he maintained, while appreciating the contributions of the Italian people in the areas of education, youth employment and food aid.
"We welcome the cancellation of some of our debt, giving us an opportunity to further strengthen our ability to pursue the programmes in our Agenda for Change. I assure you that this money will be invested where it will benefit the common people most," President Koroma declared.
Concluding, the President welcomed and congratulated the new envoy: "We will always cooperate with you and give you all the necessary support to make your tenure here a resounding success." On his part, the new Malaysian High Commissioner Wan Mahamud, in presenting his credentials, said his posting will further strengthen the bilateral and friendly relationship between the two countries, as both countries share common ideas and inspirations for mutual benefits.
"Malaysia is pleased with your stable government and wonderful people, and my government looks forward to working with and supporting you," he maintained. According to the High Commissioner, the presence of students from Sierra Leone in Malaysia has had significant impact on their motto 'Malaysia as a Center of Education Excellence.'
With pleasure, President Koroma received the letters of credence, while noting that, "The excellent bilateral relations between our two countries have flourished over the past several years. As you have aptly noted, Sierra Leone and Malaysia indeed share common values and aspirations. .."
The President appreciated the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme while looking forward to more Sierra Leonean participation in the programme. He noted that, "We particularly welcome the support we have received in the area of agribusiness. My government's priority is to ensure food self-sufficiency for all and we have made tremendous strides in this regard..."
President Koroma concluded by noting, "In congratulating you on your new appointment, I wish to welcome you to Sierra Leone and hope that you will find your assignment and tenure of office in this country a richly rewarding experience." Present at the ceremony were Vice President Sam Sumana and some cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura, who officiated the ceremony. Meanwhile, this morning, President Koroma commissioned the Pan-African E-network, facilitated by the Indian government through Telecommunications Consultants India Limited.
The e-connectivity project links 53 member States of the African Union and enables African countries and India to enhance cooperation in telecommunications, human resource training and development. The facilities have been installed at Connaught Hospital, Fourah Bay College, and the Office of the President; with the hospital having direct connectivity to major hospitals in India, the university linking up with other major tertiary institutions, and the President having a virtual face-to-face communication link with other African states from his office.
While launching the project, President Koroma noted that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can be a useful tool in the development of Sierra Leone, before assuring that, "The programmes we are launching today are among the first of a series of e-services my government will provide for this country."
The occasion was graced by Vice President Sam Sumana, cabinet ministers, and a cross-section of the diplomatic community, among other dignitaries.
THE PRESS SECRETARIAT
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