President Koroma urges UN to move with the times

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma delivered a rousing speech at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday September 22, 2016, calling on the international governing body to move with the times and speed up the reform of the UN Security Council.

As chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, the president stressed that no matter what they as leaders do at the national or global level, the world “will not be able to deliver on the SDGs’ promise of an inclusive, fairer and better world without the reform of the United Nations.”

The president spoke about some of his administration’s biggest achievements, including access to justice, women and youth employment and empowerment. He also thanked the outgone UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Sierra Leone’s successful fight against the Ebola epidemic; a fight won with the help of the UN and bilateral partners.

President Koroma also talked about the significance of the Paris climate agreement, which he signed soon after addressing the General Assembly. He pointed out that although Sierra Leone contributes almost nothing to global warming, it is the third most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. He therefore delineates climate change as an urgent life and death matter. “That is why we welcome the Paris Agreement,” he said, and told world leaders about his government’s commitment to implement its provisions in Sierra Leone. “My Government, in collaboration with our development partners, is implementing projects on adaptation, including climate information and early warning systems. We remain committed to these efforts and we seek further collaboration in confronting this global threat against humanity,” he assured.

The speech was also a stark warning to the UN of the grim international consequences should the premier governing body continue to hold on the edicts and structures established 71 years ago, calling on the UN to move with the times by carrying out the relevant reforms. Straight from the shoulder, President Koroma told world leaders that the UN lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world today. “Without strong African voices at the highest level of our premier global decision making body; without the energetic voices of the region with the largest number of young people, without the decisive contribution of the continent that is mostly affected by Security Council decisions, no solution proffered to our challenges by the United Nations would be sustained, inclusive or lasting,” the chairman of the C-10 declared amid rapturous applause by the audience.

As the voice of Africa under the aegis of the C-10, the Sierra Leonean leader told the UN that Africa stands united behind the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration and urged against any attempt to take down their position through divide and rule reminiscent of colonialism.

President Koroma also told the assembled representatives of the UN’s member states that Sierra Leone is now ready to deploy its newly Formed Police Units (FUPs), Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) units as well as Police Guards to the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) at short notice in fulfillment of the country’s pledge made to the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping in September, 2015.

The president reiterated his government’s commitment to good governance; address the underlying causes of fragility and drivers of conflict, effective management of the country’s natural resources in a bid to transform Sierra Leone into a middle-income nation by 2035. He also reminded the international community, including its bilateral friends to fulfill their pledges to the country’s recovery programme. President Koroma further expressed the urgent need for all parties to cooperate with global initiatives in finding enduring peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya, and called for action in resolving the Israel Palestine conflict, in fighting terrorism, and what he described as “dangerous escalations in the arms race”.

Certainly, many of the arguments by the president were aimed at the UN which has failed to adopt measures, including text based negotiations that will lead to a comprehensive and early reform of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities. He urged the assembled leaders to speed up the reform process so that Africa can take its rightful place in the UN Security Council.

After the speech, President Koroma had bilateral meetings with the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, the outgone UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and attended a reception ceremony hosted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also took interviews with the CCTV and BBC in between his bilateral meetings.

“Infrastructural transformation is a catalyst for growth and development” – President Koroma

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today, Monday 29th May 2017, officially opened the Sierra Leone Development Finance Forum jointly organised by the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development held at the Bintumani International Conference Centre in Aberdeen, Freetown.

The theme of the event; “Unlocking Private Investment in Sierra Leone” speaks to the avowed mission of the World Bank – ‘Working to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity & development’. According to President Koroma, the forum resonates well with the essence of his government’s Agenda for Prosperity.

The president noted that although Sierra Leone has a deep-rooted culture of entrepreneurship and many opportunities for business and private investors, emphasis should be laid on job-generating ventures in the key growth sectors of energy, tourism, fisheries and agribusiness insofar as utilizing this World Bank facility was concerned.

“Informed by the new private sector window by the World Bank Group, beginning in July 2017—this bold and much needed initiative will help the Bank, together with their partners, to mobilize private capital and scale-up private sector development,” he said, and urged the Development Finance Forum to deliberate on the successes and challenges of mobilizing transformational private sector investment. He also expressed the need to explore opportunities for public and private sectors to develop market-building alliances that will scale up the amount of private finance available for investment in the country. The president therefore expressed hope that the new US$2.5 billion Private Sector Window will be allocated through a predictable and transparent decision making process to ensure equal treatment across member countries.

President Koroma further noted that inasmuch as government strongly agrees that grant and concessional resources can attract significant levels of private investment to the country, because of its propensity to address the concerns relating to risk-return, he however cautioned that “this must also be underpinned by aligning the public and private sectors with the shared objectives of unlocking the potential to create jobs and reduce income inequality”. “This way”, he said, “this bold initiative by the World Bank Group would contribute significantly to Sierra Leone’s sustained economic growth and enhance the country’s food and energy security; in tune with the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a clarion call for deeper collaboration by all actors involved in the public sector, the private sector, multilateral development banks and institutional investors.”

The Chief Executive pointed out that Sierra Leone’s highly favourable geography, with its abundant natural resources and young, diverse and tolerant work force provide the perfect investment destination for investors. He highlighted the efforts his government has made to improving the country’s road network, improving access to reliable electricity, as well as improving on the quality of and access to education and health services, adding that infrastructural transformation is a catalyst for growth and development.

He went on to note that the establishment of the Sierra Leone Investment Export and Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), the Public Private Partnership Unit (PPP) and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Agency is to ensure proper coordination in the private sector as well as to lead and promote private sector investment, saying that government has undertaken substantial reforms to make the country a strong investment destination which still receives a high share of Foreign Direct Investment in the region.

Vice president, Development Finance of the World Bank Group Axel van Trotsenburg said the Sustainable Development Goals was adopted in 2015 by the United Nations and that the international community wants to translate the SDG initiatives into action of which Sierra Leone will be a major beneficiary. He noted that fragile states require more attention for job creation, economic transformation and produce strong private sector activities. He added that the $ 2.5 billion will help to foster support for Africa and Sierra Leone in particular in its development and transformative path.

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.