Wooing Ban Ki-Moon – What IB Kargbo/Sam Sumana achieved from their visit
Sierra Leone as a country experienced a brutal civil war between 1991 and 2002.Â Over 200,000 lives were lost, mainly civilian lives; thousands were maimed; over a million fled into exile as refugees or were internally displaced; hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private property were lost, some of them historic 200 year old houses. The United Nations moved in with, at that time, the largest Peace Keeping Force in its history, after a peace agreement, the Lome Peace Accord, had been signed between the warring factions and the governing party, the SLPP in 1999.Â
This was after almost ten years of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) having its novel arm wing, ECOMOG, waging fierce battles with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels. With the robust military stance of the British military in Sierra Leone when renegade branches of the Sierra Leone army sought to hold the capital city to ransom, it can be clearly said that Sierra Leone is the epitome of the international community coming together to wage war, and to make peace, using military muscle and diplomatic savvy.
That was in 2002, seven years ago.Â Today, after Sierra Leone has burnished its democratic credentials by staging a presidential election tagged one of the freest and fairest in Africa in recent years, an election that saw the incumbent SLPP government losing the elections and peacefully handing over power to the opposition APC, there is now aggressive efforts by the APC to surge the country forward developmentally..
Sierra Leone continues to make history in the sub region: one of the few countries to unseat a ruling party; the first in history to turn a state owned radio station into a corporate institution…
With a great sense of accomplishment, the Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Ben Kargbo, broke this news to me: ‘A delegation of Sierra Leoneans, led by H.E. the Vice President, Alhaji Sam Sumana, met with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Geneva recently; and the UN scribe assured us that he would visit Sierra Leone early next year.Â Moon also said he had thoroughly briefed on progress in Sierra Leone, and that he is satisfied that positive reforms are taking place in the country….’Â This assurance was given after Minister Kargbo, and Vice President Sam Sumana, had private audience with Moon after the ICT meeting in Geneva.
When UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, visits Sierra Leone next year, it will be a grateful President Ernest Bai Koroma thanking Moon for the vital role the UN played in Sierra Leone during its darkest civil war years, and the crucial role being played by the U.N. in assisting the developmental effort of Sierra Leone presently; but, it will also be a very proud President Koroma: touting the accomplishments of Sierra Leone as a stable and peace loving democratic country; a country moving with determined steps to do combat with the monster of poverty.
Moon will leave Sierra Leone with no doubt as to the sagacity of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who is putting his global reputation on the line in doing PR for President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government: because Blair must have been well briefed by British experts on Sierra Leone that President Koroma is sincere, and has been aggressive in tackling poverty, and ensuring Justice in Sierra Leone.
Some 48 hours ago, I had an interview with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo.Â Alhaji Kargbo, who was a President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ) just about the time he was chosen to serve as information minister, has played his role with unprecedented energy and drive – with live weekly press briefings Â aired on all the radio stations, and widely featured on all the print media.Â He has also been assertive and pro-active in engaging the international media on Sierra Leone.Â With his usual readiness to meet with those in the media, I.B. Kargbo briefed me on a recent meeting in Geneva, where he and the Vice President. Alhaji Sam Sumana had gone to meet investors, and other powerfully connected people who could be interested in Sierra Leone.
From what IB Kargbo told me, it became apparent that Sierra Leone’s Vice President was among VIPs who gave their support to ITU for the attainment of International Telecommunications Union goals.Â And so it was no surprise that the attainment of 100% connectivity by all ITU members was also topical in the conference.Â According to IB Kargbo, one novelty for this year’s ITU conference was when Telecommunications Ministers from ITU countries sat face to face with private sector members, specializing in telecommunications industry.Â He stated that frank discussions were also held on issues of the challenges confronting Africa which is being adversely affected by a poor energy sector.
The conference was important enough to had been attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon.
IB Kargbo’s case
So I asked Hon IB Kargbo what was his submissions at the conference, and he told me, he argued in his presentation that development of ICT, especially the improvements in connectivity largely depends on the availability of energy, and that providing internet facilities for rural communities and installing broadband mobile phone system can be successful if the rural population have access to energy.Â And I therefore think this justifies why the government is putting premium on the completion of the Bumbuna Hydro dam, and the subsequent provision of energy for the whole country.
Telecommunication development, I think should go side by side with energy development, and so, let IB Kargbo continue with his strides in developing the telecommunication sector and at the same time, let the government ensure, the provision of constant energy. Â
IB on Ben T/V
I B Kargbo, as government’s Spokesman, also recently visited the United Kingdom to talk on the much anticipated Donor’s Conference on Sierra Leone, which is slated for next month.
While in London, Kargbo also briefed the Sierra Leonean community in the UK about the Wanza issue, the status of Bumbuna, rapid growth in the agricultural area, the free media, etc. They were left very impressed with what the Koroma presidency is doing in Sierra Leone. Â
When I.B. Kargbo returned to Freetown, he, as usual, assembled all the print and electronic media, and through them spoke to every Sierra Leone citizenry and the world, on what government is doing.
Happy weekend to my readers but don’t forget to take your daughter to the beach tomorrow.
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