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Kemoh Sesay speaks on diaspora and development in Geneva

Kemoh Sesay speaks on diaspora and development in Geneva

In a bid to market the image of the country in the international arena, the Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay (in photo) has returned home during the weekend after delivered sound speech in the Geneva International Dialogue on Migration 2013- Diaspora Ministerial Conference held in Geneva.

In his speech, Hon. Kemoh Sesay explained the purpose of the paper; “is to share with the forum how we are doing in Sierra Leone in leveraging the human resources of these scattered communities of ours around the world, so that we can contribute to our post- war reconstruction and socio-economic development”.

He recalled that the United States of America, Australia, the State of Israel, South Africa as well as many other countries in the sub- Region are all partly the creation of willing or forceful migrant-workers.

‘’ These people over many centuries still have some amount of, or strong ties and attachment to their countries of origin. And on that note, I humbly submit that the global diaspora human resources repatriation agenda must be set upon dual tracks. It must be tailored to and it must be sensitive to the laws, values, cultures and traditions of the host country and the country of origin,’’ he noted.

The Minister of Political Affairs underscored that in Sierra Leone, His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma upon assuming office in 2007, proclaimed that his government will engage its diaspora populations to join him in nation-building as he called them his fifth Region in addition to the four geographic divisions by region in the country.

It is however based on the President’s commitment to engage the fifth Region that we have created an agency in Sierra Leone called the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) in the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs.

The aim of the ODA he said is to manage the issues of Diaspora and Development aimed at engaging the diaspora in nation-building process in Sierra Leone which has been of mutual benefit partnerships between the government of Sierra Leone and its diaspora communities. Hon. Kemoh Ssesay cited one such notable benefit partnership is the Government of Sierra Leone’s policy of strategic engagement of the diaspora in filling critical capacity gaps in Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs).

In that arrangement he stated, about 35 Sierra Leonean expatriates in the diaspora were targeted of which 25 were recruited. In the process, we discovered highly skilled Sierra Leoneans who were willing to be repatriated but found it difficult without enough incentive packages and in return, government reduced expenditure on the use of project implementation units (PIUs) filled by foreign expatriates.

The Minister further stated that the ODA has been very instrumental so far in helping other diaspora Sierra Leoneans who fall outside the existing strategic engagement scheme in resettling through attractive incentives and guidance in setting up of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as securing other appointments for them in MDAs and big corporations.

The Minister also brought the attention of his audience the major constraints that limits countries in unlocking the full potentials of their diaspora populations in Europe, United States and Canada, with the hope that it will become a topic of global debate for the benefit of enabling the world to become a true global village in which people and resources will move freely across national and continental frontiers just as we have achieved in the area of free-flow of information across national and continental frontiers.

In his concluding statement, the Minister added that the country’s agenda for this year is to provide its diaspora compatriots with a formidable Diaspora and migration policy, aimed at a complete overhaul of our relationship with our diaspora communities around the world. ‘’ Our determination is to have a complete legal instrument that will package the issue of diaspora and development in a way that our Fifth Region will fully be a part of our post-war reconstruction and national development’’.

By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara

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