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UNIDO offers support to the government of Sierra Leone

UNIDO offers support to the government of Sierra Leone

VIENNA, December 4, 2011: On the sidelines of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) 14th General Conference, a high level meeting between UNIDO officials and Sierra Leone’s delegation was convened to discuss progress on UNIDO implemented projects inSierra Leone.  (Photo: Minister Richard Konteh & MD Dimitri Piskounov exchanging signed copies of agreement)

The meeting which served to discuss details of UNIDO projects, sought to identify specific actions needed either by UNIDO or the government of Sierra Leone to move the projects to the next level.

Left UNIDO representatives - Stephen Kargbo - Head of SL Operations, Dimitri Piskounov and DG Yumkella. Right: Sierra Leone Delegation HOC Al-Hassan Kondeh , Mins. Richard Konteh and Ambassador Stevens

Leading UNIDO’s delegation was Dimitri Piskounov, Managing Director of Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division on behalf of Director General Kandeh K. Yumkella.  Sierra Leone’s delegation led by Trade and Industry Minister Richard Konteh and Jongopie Siaka Stevens -Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Germany included Stephen Kargbo – UNIDO Sierra Leone Head of Operations and Counselor Al-Hassan K. Kondeh.

Among the many projects discussed, the following received funding:

The sum of $800,000 was allocated to the construction of a training institute for the provision of technical capacity.  The Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) has agreed to use the Kissy Dockyard site that has already been identified and will remove squatters and petrol trucks from the construction site, demolish foundation of necessary construction and brick wall and assist where necessary, with procurement of locally available materials and provide additional security for premises.  UNIDO will ensure that construction material will arrive at the site by December 16, 2011 ensuring that the ground-breaking ceremony takes place by January 2012 and building is completed by April 2012.  The contractor will provide security services in addition to that to be provided by the GOSL.  With UNIDO’s help,Russiahas allocated $650,000 for the second phase of the development.

A metrology laboratory will be constructed to provide Quality and Compliance Infrastructural development in the amount of $400,000 provided by the governments of Norway and Finland. GOSL will contribute $50,000 towards the construction of the metrology laboratory and UNIDO will cover the sum of $200,000 to cover the funding gap to meet the complete cost of the project.

For the development of small hydro power for productive uses, UNIDO has secured the sum of $1,758,192 from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with more funding expected to follow. Another $10 million is expected to be received with UNIDO’s help from ECOWAS Bank for International Development (EBID) and an additional $50,000 to be provided by UNIDO.  The remaining funds to complete the $31 million project are currently being mobilized by UNIDO and the GOSL as negotiations continue with OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the European Union.

With UNIDO’s continued help, the government of Japan has provided funding in the amount of $1,167,412 for the rehabilitation of training-cum production centres in vulnerable communities of Koindu, Kpandebu, and Pujehun and another $602,500 to be used for a project related to energy access in the same communities.

Signing the project implementation agreement on behalf of Sierra Leone, Minister Richard Konteh registered his profound gratitude to UNIDO on behalf of the GOSL. “Our government is serious about bringing development toSierra Leoneand this partnership, demonstrates once more, government’s desire to affording opportunities to the people of Sierra Leone,“ he proudly said.  “I am truly humbled to be signing this agreement on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone,” he continued.  For his part, Dimitri Piskounov underscored UNIDO’s continued desire to help GOSL to meet the needs of the Sierra Leonean populace. “We look forward to continued partnership with the people and government of Sierra Leone,” he noted.

Speaking to Stephen Kargbo – UNIDO Sierra Leone Country Representative about his reaction, “Given the current economic conditions of the global economy, I am satisfied that UNIDO is able to conclude the swift implementation of these projects.  This is quite an achievement as these projects have a huge capacity to improve the lives of poor Sierra Leoneans especially youths and women in the rural areas,” he declared.

For Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Jongopie Stevens “I am proud that the successful implementation of these negotiations has happened during my tenure.  What such achievements underscore is the strong relationship that the government of Sierra Leone has forged and will always continue to maintain with UNIDO and other partners,” he responded to a question I posed about his reaction.

Managing Director Dimitri Piskounov briefs DG Yumkella on the signed agreement

The Sierra Leonean delegation also lauded UNIDO’s Sierra Leonean born Director General for his astute leadership over the years and his contributions toSierra Leonewhich they say speaks volumes.  “Dr. Yumkella is a Sierra Leonean that we all should be proud of,“ said Head of Chancery Al–Hassan Kondeh.  DG Yumkella joined the meeting late as he continued meeting with UNIDO member states at the conclusion of the General Conference.

During their visit to Viennafor the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference and the 14th Session of UNIDO’s General Conference, theSierra Leone delegation also met with Ambassador Irene Giner–Reichl, Director General for Development Cooperation at the Austrian Foreign Ministry.  The successful meeting led to the disclosure that Sierra Leone will receive a grant of 24,200.00 Euros meant to support the health sector in realizing the Millenium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

Both Minister Konteh and Ambassador Stevens expressed their appreciation for the support and shared their belief that the meeting was “the beginning of a long lasting economic-business relationship between Sierra Leone andAustria.  Noting the recently concluded Investment Forum which was aimed at showing Sierra Leone’s business friendly environment, he invited the Austrian government to encourage investors to consider doing business with the country. “Our focus is on trade rather than aid and it will be a win-win situation,” Minister Konteh stressed.

At the OPEC Fund for International Development, Director of Economic Service and Planning, Farris Hassan, disclosed that the fund is working closely with UNIDO for the provision of energy access and further reiterated their commitment for theMatotoka-Koidu Highwayproject. Commenting on the Moyamba hydro project, Mr. Hassan assured the Sierra Leone delegation that in partnership with UNIDO, they will be funding the project with the amount of $14 million while they make serious efforts in approaching other partner institutions to fund the balance.  He made it clear that the release of funds for the Matotoka-Koidu highway will be done as soon as the documents submitted are reviewed and submitted for approval to OFID’s Board of Directors.

Ambassador Stevens and Minister Konteh expressed their regret for President Koroma’s absence which unfortunately had to do with pressing state matters.  “However, we sincerely appreciate OFID’s support to Sierra Leone, particularly your commitment to funding the Matotoka–Koidu highway and the Moyamba Hydro project which will be a big boost for N’jala University as well as supporting both the fishing and agricultural industries in the district,” Minister Konteh mentioned.  Minister Richard Konteh also expressed interest in OFID’s support for capacity building.

Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jr., on assignment in Vienna

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