ECOWAS is proud of S/Leones growing progress & positive regional roles
The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission H.E James Victor Gbeho has acknowledged Sierra Leone’s steady growth that is coupled with important and meaningful contributions towards the successful realisation of the objectives of (ECOWAS) regional integration process. (Photo: ECOWAS President H.E. James Victor Gbeho showering praises on President Ernest Bai Koroma)
Addressing Different ECOWAS Diplomats, Professionals and other ECOWAS Nationals at the grained, with a rich grain wood designed ECOWAS conference hall, patterned with mahogany and American walnut, in Asokoro Abuja on Tuesday 20th July, the ECOWAS President made do with fifteen (15) minutes, to provide in abundance, enough evidence to acknowledge what he described as an example of a West African Country which success story is second to South Africa.
Using the same podium that is flushed with red carpet, which he had been used to address Foreign Ministers and other Government Ministers, ECOWAS President H.E. James Victor Gbeho said, “I wish to acknowledge with sincere gratitude and thanks the important contribution that Sierra Leone has made towards the successful realization of the objectives of our regional integration process and the rapid progress the Country is making at post war reconstruction and development since the end of its decade – long civil war in 2002.
H.E. James Victor Gbeho said the task of nation building is an enormous responsibility that demands a lot of effort and sacrifice from all: therefore, the commemoration of national days should not only be an occasion for speeches and merry making, it should also be an occasion for a sober reflection of past achievements, current development efforts and the many challenges that lie ahead.
He said ECOWAS’ intention to observe national days is geared towards promote respect for, and appreciation of the communities cultural diversity, deepen cooperation and friendship and also to enhance understanding and awareness of the political and socio economic developments in our member states”.
The ECOWAS president described Sierra Leone as a home to six million people; a Country at peace, welcoming, hospitable and very friendly.
“Since the end of the war, Sierra Leone has held two free and fair elections that have met international standards.” Sierra Leone had a successful democratic changeover of government in 2007, which took place without violence or large scale protest and in which; the ruling government was defeated by the then opposition party.
“Sierra Leone has a strong and proud heritage of religious tolerance and its people are among the most religiously harmonized in the world”. Quoting a recent study by the World Bank, H.E. Gbeho said Standards of Governance, political stability and the ability of its citizens to hold government to account has risen faster in Sierra Leone than almost anywhere else in the world.
He said Sierra Leone has also recorded impressive improvement in the investment climate that benefits both foreign Investors and domestic companies.
He said Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s most active reformers of law and business regulations.
“In the 2010 world Bank’s doing business report, Sierra Leone is listed in the top five (5) for the ease of starting business in sub Saharan Africa and second only to South Africa for Investment protection.
“In the Mo Ibrahim index for Good Governance, the Country is known for its tough anti corruption laws and is considered as one of Africa’s most improved Countries for Governance”.
Amidst a thunderous round of applause, H.E. Victor Gbeho made mention of the Country’s natural resources and said Sierra Leone also provides unfettered access to thirty million (30 Million) people via the Mano River Union and a market of over two hundred and fifty million (250Million) people via ECOWAS .
Concluding, the ECOWAS president said “Products from Sierra Leone enjoy duty – free access under the EU Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative and US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Sierra Leone’s strategic location at the fulcrum of Global trade routes and its deep natural harbour which is the largest in Africa, have long made it an important trading and fuelling stop off and creates the potential for the Country to become a regional trading hub. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us give a very big round of applause to the Government and People of Sierra Leone! It is our sincere hope that ECOWAS Agenda will continue to be a priority focus of government policy in Sierra Leone in the years to come.
Responding, Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS H.E. Henry O Macauley allayed the fears of the ECOWAS President, by conveying the unwavering commitment of President Ernest Bai Koroma, whose solid belief in the ideals of ECOWAS commission is not unconnected to its potential to bring much needed development to the sub region.
H.E Henry O. Macauley concurred with the praises heaped on the President Ernest Bai Koroma Government by the ECOWAS Commission President and said the developments outlined are in line with President Koroma’s “agenda for change”, a visionary program bent on moving Sierra Leone into an upward economic and social development, focussing on providing a reliable power supply, raising quantity and productivity in agriculture and fisheries, developing a national transportation network and ensuring sustainable human development through the provision of improved social services.
To the astonishment of other Diplomats, Professionals and other ECOWAS Citizens, H.E Henry O Macauley disclosed that Freetown the capital of Sierra Leone is now regarded one of the safest cities in Africa which police do not carry guns.
Display of Sierra Leone homemade dresses and cuisine formed the highlight of the program.
Pasco Gerald Temple, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone High Commission, Abuja, Nigeria www.slhc-nig.org
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