President Koroma makes progress with World Leaders
The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma (in photo) was recently in the Peoples’ Republic of China with a high-powered delegation to attend the 2nd World Peace Forum.
In China, President Koroma met with movers and shakers of the world’s most populous country. During his visit, a recent Press Statement by State House Communications Unit states, President Koroma delivered a keynote address at the World Peace Forum at Tsinghua University, and held fruitful discussions with the President of the Republic of China, MR. XI Jinping, the Chinese Vice President, Mr. LI Yuanchao, the Governor of Hainan Province, the Vice Governor of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the President of Exxim Bank and several Chinese Companies including the Kingho Group, Shandong Iron and Steel Group and the Hainan State Rubber Group.
Whilst in China, the two countries signed a number of agreements on infrastructure and agriculture. It was the first meeting between these two leaders since Koroma’s reelection in November last year while the Chinese President only acceded to power a few months ago. But this is President Koroma’s third visit to China since he became president in September 2007.
In essence, President Koroma’s visit to China was full of several engagements geared towards cementing the bilateral relationship between the two countries which spanned way back in 1971, the year Sierra Leone was declared as a Republic nation.
In an interview conducted with President Koroma by my Beijing based colleague, John Baimba Sesay, the President described the visit as “very successful.”
President Koroma’s Invitation to the US
In 2013 alone, President Koroma has visited the United States of America (USA) together with the Presidents of Senegal and Malawi, and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde on the invitation of President Barrack Obama, who recognized Sierra Leone and the other three countries as emerging democracies in Africa.
Many say it was the first time ever for a Sierra Leonean President to be invited to the White House in Washington D.C., USA, in recognition of his role in promoting democracy, good governance and the rule of law, which are fundamental to the economic, social and political development of Sierra Leone, especially a country recovering from the ravages of eleven-year civil war that left the country’s social infrastructure in ruins.
UAE Investors assured the President
After President Koroma’s visit to the US, he returned to Sierra Leone through the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he was officially invited by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Whilst in the UAE, he held fruitful meetings with dignitaries in Government as well as potential investors, including, top officials of Mulk Holdings, a UAE-based diversified conglomerate. They discussed about investing in Sierra Leone’s thriving power, mining, telecommunications and waste management industries.
Speaking to me in an interview shortly after the meeting, President Koroma told me that he welcomed the initiatives proposed by Mulk Holdings for investment in his country and promised focused support at the highest level. He also welcomed the Chairman of the company, Shaji Ul Mulk and his associates to Sierra Leone to progress further on all the initiatives discussed.
“West Africa is of key strategic importance to our expansion plans. We are glad to be welcomed wholeheartedly by President Koroma of Sierra Leone. We are looking forward to working with the Government and be a key player in the growing economic landscape of Sierra Leone,’’ the Chairman of Mulk Holdings also said to me in an interview after their meeting with the President.
Koroma takes a center stage in Tokyo
Prior to his recent visit to the People’s Republic of China, President Koroma also visited Japan on the invitation of the leadership of that country to attend the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
According to Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary and Coordinator of the Committee of 10 on UN Security Council Reform at Sierra Leone’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, “President Koroma took centre stage at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) as he chaired a crucial meeting during which he certainly continued his advocacy for permanent seats and other rights and prerogatives for Africa in the United Nations Security Council.
President Koroma is the Chairman of the African Union Committee of 10 (C-10), which is advocating and promoting the African Common Position in the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations for UN Security Council reform.
Sierra Leone making progress
The recent invitations of President Koroma by great world leaders are clear indications of how Sierra Leone is making progress with its traditional and emerging donors. It is another mark of the president’s commitment to the establishment of a broader base donor support. As a patriotic and development-oriented leader, President Koroma has worked assiduously towards re-packaging the post-war nation to donor partners and countries with bilateral ties by brandishing his ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, a new Aid Policy for Sierra Leone.
Traditional donors such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN) and African Development Bank (AFDB) are reportedly impressed with the President’s performance.
Their continuous assistance to the post-war nation is predicated on President Koroma’s democracy and good governance which have given them much confidence to do more for Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is also in smooth sail with non-traditional donors and emerging donors.
President Koroma’s visit to the People’s Republic of China will not only strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries, it will also create more rooms for Chinese investment in Sierra Leone, given that China still remains Africa’s largest trade partner in the world.
China takes over Africa
The “China-Africa Trade and Economic Relationship Annual Report 2012” states that by 2011, China’s export to Africa reached US$73.1 billion. In the investment sector, China’s direct investment in Africa reached US$ 3.173 billion, which was up to 50.2%. In the field of contractual engineering Chinese companies’ total turnover in Africa rose by 0.81% to US$36.12 billion in 2011. In the area of development help, China delivered 47 complete projects in Africa financed by its aid programmes. In the year under review, China-Africa trade grew from US$166.32 billion, which was up to 30.9% year on year and China still remains Africa’s largest trading partner.
President Koroma’s visit to China is more relevant and there are indications that the Koroma-led administration is bracing up for developing a high capacity for aid management as the reforms promoted in the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ prioritize transparency and accountability in all projects and emphasize better communication between government and development partners.
Koroma – Darling of the International Community
With current development unfolding, it is crystal clear that President Koroma is no doubt the darling of the International Community because of his commitment to democracy, good governance, economic governance and above all, his penchant to development in Sierra Leone in all sectors for economic prosperity. As we welcome the President from the People’s Republic of China, Sierra Leoneans should be rest assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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