State House, Freetown, Thursday 10 February 2022 – World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, has successfully engaged His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and senior government officials as part of his official tour to West Africa.
Appointed on July 1, 2020, the Mauritanian born is now leading relations with 22 countries, and overseeing a portfolio of projects, technical assistance, and financial resources worth more than $38 billion.
He thanked the government and people of Sierra Leone for their kind reception, citing the many opportunities for growth, sustainable development and challenges it faced. He praised President Bio for his leadership in transforming and developing the country amidst the devastating effects of the COVID-19.
Mr Diagana recalled that the Bank and Sierra Leone had a relationship spanning over 50 years and assured that they would continue to support the development activities of the country. He said that he stood in solidarity with the country during the Coronavirus pandemic and congratulated the country for progress made in curtailing the spread of the disease.
“Sierra Leone has seen some progress. When we were coming from the hotel, I have seen visible signs of stability. We have seen signs that give hope. We will like to be part of the cooperation that will translate them into real occasions for Sierra Leoneans. The pandemic has impacted the new country partnership framework but there is good implementation of agriculture, education, energy, health, social protection and human capital development projects worth nearly $1 billion,” he said.
In his response, President Bio thanked the World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa for his visit, adding that such visits would help him get firsthand information on the challenges facing Sierra Leone, one of the low-income member countries of the World Bank Group.
“I would also like to express my appreciation to the Bank for providing additional financing of $18.2 million for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. I look forward to additional support for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide,” he urged.
President Julius Maada Bio further noted that the Bank’s support toward development of the proposed Land Administration Project and the Digital Transformation Project was timely, saying that his government was looking forward to expediting the preparation for those projects.
He added that there was an urgent need to improve the management and governance of the land sector in Sierra Leone and continued that the implementation of the digital transformation project would also improve the efficiency of government operations and support private sector development.
“Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to thank the Executive Board, Management and Staff of the Bank for their unflinching support to the development aspirations of the Government and people of Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
At a separate meeting with over 20 government ministers and technical leads across Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said because the Bank was providing over 60% of development financing to the country, they needed to discuss certain triggers before any development policy operation.
The Bank has been the country’s leading development partner, supporting major investments in many sectors and with its affiliate, IFC, it has also been a key supporter of various private sector activities. Total current World Bank Group portfolio for Sierra Leone stands at $1.1 billion, covering 17 national projects.
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