“Our aspirations are great”… Minister Richard Konteh tells UNIDO Conference Delegates
VIENNA, November 29, 2011 – Addressing Heads of States, senior government officials, representatives of many international organizations as well as officials from the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and colleague ministers at UNIDO’s fourteenth General Conference, Minister of Trade and Industry, Richard Konteh spoke about Sierra Leone’s aspirations for meaningful inclusion in the new industrial revolution on behalf of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma. (Photo: Minister Konteh addressing UNIDO Conference Delegates)
Speaking on the overarching theme of this year’s conference “The new industrial revolution: making it sustainable” – Minister Konteh reminded participants that even though he comes from one of the least industrialized nations in the world, Sierra Leone’s aspirations for industrialization are as great as any other country. “Our aspirations are great because we see the industrial revolution as the greatest opportunity for creating wealth, creating jobs and moving our people out of poverty” he emphasized.
Underscoring the conference’s agenda that inclusive and sustainable industrial development strategies are of critical importance especially in reconciling the environment, economic and social conditions, Minister Konteh noted that the Sierra Leone government has teamed up with neighboring Liberia to declare the Gola Forest a green belt to avoid exploitation of the forest and therefore save the environment from further degradation.
Even though the new industrial revolution poses constraints, Sierra Leone, he said, must seize with great zeal what the revolution promises. “It is as much a moral imperative as it is a good governance obligation to ride the industrial revolution train,” he stated. “We cannot be left out; we should not be left out and we will not be left out,“ he emphasized.
Like many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) around the world, Sierra Leone, must make industrial development an essential driver of sustainable development and poverty reduction. However, to fully realize the benefits associated with the new industrial revolution, immense deficits in the energy, transport and information sectors must be addressed. The New Industrial Policy (NIP) inSierra Leoneidentifies these challenges in an effort to facilitate industrial growth.
The African continent is sure to benefit from the new industrial wave only if resources are mobilized and efforts are made to enhance economic diversification and value addition, job creation and the environment is protected. “We must reform our business environment, revamp our educational sector, integrate regional capital and financial systems and the necessary complementary infrastructural networks,” Minister Konteh continued.
Lauding UNIDO’s Director General Kandeh Yumkella for his strong leadership and his critical role in bringing the United Nation’s support for the transition to an inclusive and sustainable green economy forward, Minister Konteh requested continued support from UNIDO in defining “appropriate policies, mobilizing credible partnerships and sequencing critical interventions that will help propel the country’s economy” to an era of sustainable growth and prosperity.
Under the able leadership of President Koroma and his vision to transform Sierra Leone into a green economy with dependence on renewable energy, Minister Konteh reiterated government’s commitment to continue working with UNIDO in seeking relevant technical advice and the continued implementation of the “Agenda for Change” which includes the provision of reliable, affordable and renewable energy by harnessing not only the country’s hydro energy potentials but also to exploit the solar energy and biomass potentials to provide sufficient clean energy sources for our people.
Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr., on assignment in Vienna
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