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I B Kargbo of Sierra Leone leads Africa’s delegation in Beijing

I B Kargbo of Sierra Leone leads Africa’s delegation in Beijing

Beijing –Wednesday 8th December, 2010: Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communication and Government Spokesman, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo was on Wednesday 8th December, 2010 appointed Spokesman and leader of Africa’s delegation to The “Ministerial Workshop on Information Highway Construction for Developing Countries” organized by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

The workshop which is hosted by the Academy for International Business Officials (AIBO) in Beijing attracted 13 Ministers of Information and Communication Technology and 12 senior officials from North, South, East, West and Central Africa.

Speaking on behalf of his colleague Ministers from Africa, Hon. Kargbo, said that “the historical, political and economic relations between China and the African continent are not novel, as they date as far back as the 14th Century when merchants and scholars from both continents visited each other’s continent”. China, he continued, “is currently Africa’s second largest business partner after the United States of America. This explains why in October 2000 an official platform known as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was created to strengthen the relationship between the two continents.”

The vibrant and eloquent information guru compared Africa’s relationship with China to the brotherly ties between his country Sierra Leone and China. He said, China and Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations on 29th July, 1971 and since that time bilateral relations between the two countries have been vey smooth and development oriented. This is evident in the fact that China has partnered with Sierra Leone to implement several projects ranging from Agriculture, Energy, Education and Infrastructure for which Sierra Leone is grateful.

Hon. Kargbo told his audience that similar interventions must have been replicated in the other countries, and it is quite evident that the strengths and weaknesses of countries that have bilateral relations with the People’ s Republic of China are common especially in the area of information Communication  Technology.

“Accessing the technology and at the same time providing the funds for the installation of the technology are two major challenges Africa has to contend with. Africa needs scientific help in terms of capacity building for its citizens, as well as, funding to actualize the dreams of the various Governments”. The Minister concluded.

The Chinese Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mr. Chong Quan, described the year 2010 as China’s sixtieth (60th) anniversary of Foreign Aid. He said, “For 60 years now China has provided foreign aid to other developing countries with no political strings attached. Being a developing country itself, China, shares a similar past as well as, common wish for development in the African continent”.

According to Mr. Quan, a lot of countries including those in Africa came to their aid during the socialist construction, and they as a Government are now ensuring that through the South-South cooperation these countries would benefit from China’s development programmes. The purpose of the workshop he reiterated is to further strengthen the exchanges and cooperation in building the information highway between China and other developing countries, thereby creating a win-win situation.

“Asia and Africa are among the countries with the greatest development potential in the world, and strengthening cooperation with Africa is highlight in China’s foreign relationship”, says Mr. XI Guohua, Deputy Minister of Industry Information and Technology.

According to Mr. Guohua, China’s communication products and services are available in 50 African countries, and more that 300 million African people enjoy these services. Also over 40 3G networks have been set up in over 30 African countries, and over 20 countries have had their national fiber Optic backbone communication and e-Government networks established by China.

The workshop ends on 14th December, 2010 and will be climaxed by site visits to the headquarters of China’s key operators in the telecommunications sector such as China mobile Ltd, Huawei Technologies Company Ltd, Datang Technology Company Ltd and Zhongxing Telecoms Company Ltd.

By: Kwame Yankson, Ministry of Information and Communication, Freetown, Sierra Leone

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