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China’s EXIM Bank sets 2012 as target for projects approval in Sierra Leone

China’s EXIM Bank sets 2012 as target for projects approval in Sierra Leone

Deputy General Manager for Export-Import Bank, (EXIM Bank) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Wang Fade has told Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to China that his visit is timely as it coincides with the approval by the EXIM Bank of the Fibre Backbone project to facilitate the provision of both the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and the Security Platform for the ACE ( Africa Coast to Europe) Submarine Cable – an essential requirement to enable Sierra Leone to participate in the consortium of 23 countries to connect to Europe via the ACE cable  between France and South Africa.  He urged the Ambassador to follow up with the Ministry of Commerce in the PRC with a view to signing the Government –to-Government Framework confirming the conditions of the loan.

During the courtesy visit on the 1st June, Mr. Wang Fade told Ambassador Multi-Kamara that the EXIM Bank of China is a state bank solely owned by the Chinese government, specializing in providing concessional loans support, under terms and conditions that are agreed on a bilateral basis, with the degree of concessionary terms depending on the nature of the project.  According to Wang Fade the Bank is currently considering loan advancing for four projects, with huge potential for the development of the country. These include the Fiber Backbone (just approved), the Rice and Rubber plantation project, the X-ray Container project and the new Freetown International Airport project.

He referred to these projects as being “very big and important to your (Sierra Leone) country in terms of employment” and also stressed the need for the Ambassador to do his utmost to accelerate the approval of these projects as soon as possible…given the high potential economic benefits inherent in these projects. While acknowledging some delays on the Sierra Leone side in collating and processing key requirements, he assured the Ambassador that he is committed to work closely with him in ensuring that all these projects are approved in 2012.

For approval of the rice and rubber plantation project, the Deputy General Manager called for the timely provision of relevant supportive documents to the Bank including, Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Environment Approval  document from SIL-EPA etc. He acknowledged the role of Ambassador Multi-Kamara as very much an integral part of the loan processing and approval process for projects supported by EXIM Bank in Sierra Leone and therefore encouraged him to work closely with his counterpart in Sierra Leone, the Chinese Ambassador, to facilitate the timely processing and financing of all pending projects, including in particularly the new airport.

On his part, Ambassador Multi-Kamara assured Dr. Wang that he fully identifies with the commitment, vision and energy to work with him and his team at the EXIM Bank, while also expressing his determination to work diligently in ensuring, as agreed, that loan agreements for all projects under consideration are approved by end 2012 deadline. He commended the Deputy General Manager of the significant role that the Bank is playing not just in the development of Sierra Leone, but the wider context of Sino-African cooperation ties which has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years.

Sierra Leone, the Ambassador said, has an inspirational leader in the person of His Excellency President Ernest Koroma, who consistently demands of his compatriots, particularly those in Government and in the foreign service to “…think big and plan big…” in a manner consistent with his vision to deliver prosperity to the people and transform Sierra Leone from a Least developed country to a middle income country by 2040. The Ambassador assured the Deputy General Manager that the China EXIM will continue to have a special place in providing the necessary catalytic support to ongoing government development effort.

The China Exim-Bank is the world’s third largest export credit agency, with a mandate to “implement state policies in industry, foreign trade and economy, finance and foreign affairs”. The vast majority of infrastructure financing arrangements done by China in the African continent are reportedly financed by the China Exim Bank. The Bank has financed over 300 projects in Africa, with infrastructure, being the core of its undertakings.

As part of the Sierra Leone Government’s priority areas, the government upon assuming office signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, (a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company) to implement the e-government and National Optical Transmission backbone project. However there were delays in the full implementation of the project due to the procedures in securing loan from the Exim Bank of China. But this has now been approved by EXIM Bank in China, which is a positive development in President Koroma’s Agenda for Change.

Meanwhile, on May 30th, His Excellency, Ambassador Multi-Kamara also met with Madam Zhong Manying, Director-General of the Department of West Asian and African Affairs, Ministry of Commerce of China- sometimes referred to as the power house in advancing Chinese “Go Global” and development cooperation policy . He reminded her of the huge potential that Sierra Leone holds in natural and mineral resources, and the firm conviction of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma that China is fully committed to strengthening and deepening existing bilateral and development cooperation. He highlighted the attractive incentives for Chinese investment across the sectors including, agriculture and agri-business, fisheries, mining, transportation, infrastructural development and oil and gas. He assured the Director-General that his primary mission, “…through continuous engagement and dialogue with the Ministry is to see how these opportunities can be fully tapped to the mutual benefit of the two countries.”

His Excellency Multi-Kamara also informed the Director-General that Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress in the implementation of the Agenda for Change, while acknowledging in particular the role that China has been playing in support of our development effort; singling out in particular the support from key Chinese institutions such as the China EXIM Bank and the China Africa Development Fund (CADFund).

Responding, Madam Zhong Manying promised to do everything to support Ambassador Multi-Kamara, during his tenure in Beijing. She stated that, she is aware of H.E the Ambassador’s desire, passion and determination to promote Sierra Leone’s development and assured, that there is a lot that China can do in Sierra Leone, emphasizing that “the department of foreign aid in our Ministry is very important in terms of how we can work with Sierra Leone.” She also spoke of the up-coming 5th Ministerial Forum, within the framework of FOCAC, saying, both Africa and China should think of new measures, to deepen cooperation ties and engage more strategically.

Referring specifically to CADFund support to Africa, the Director-General acknowledged that most of CADFund thus far has been in support of Southern and East African countries. According to her “… it is time to move to the West of Africa”, whilst stressing that “China can give you all the support you need since we have a special relation with your country.”

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