President Koroma Participates in Panel Discussion on Renewable Energy
His Excellency, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Monday 20th January participated in a panel discussion on renewable energy alongside the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn and Senegalese President Macky Sall moderated by the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Mr Adnan Z Amin.
Responding to a question posed by the moderator, President Koroma said the situation in Sierra Leone represents exactly what is happening in Africa. “Africa has changed; the political landscape has changed; democracy is growing in Africa; good governance is becoming the order of the day; transparency and accountability are issues that are now being addressed by most of the countries, including Sierra Leone and the fight against corruption is up and about, and this goes a long way to show that Africa is now prepared to move forward.”
According to the President, Africa should not to be defined by its past and issues that are isolated in Africa like what is now sadly happening in South Sudan and Central Africa Republic should not be used to define what is Africa. The emerging picture in Africa, he said, is that there are now countries that have democratic leaders, and added that the continent now has governments that are committed to transparency and accountability and good governance. “We now have governments that have set themselves programmes that will attract external investment. This is what is happening in Sierra Leone”, he confidently stated.
President Koroma further pointed out that over the years Sierra Leone had experienced transparent elections that were monitored internationally. “We have had a change of government; democratic change of government, and the government is focused on doing the things that will create additional opportunities not only for Sierra Leoneans but to attract external investment. Sierra Leone is home to abundant resources like what you have in Africa. Africa is home to most of the minerals you can imagine that have not been exploited. Africa is home to a third of the world’s arable land that we can use to feed not only Africa but the world”, President Koroma maintained.
The President emphasized that Africa also has huge potential for hydro, solar and other sources of energy, and said that what is required now are good policies and partnership, and “that is what is happening in Sierra Leone”. “That is why because of the commitment of the government, the policies that we have now put in place, Sierra Leone is one of the leading countries in the world with strong economic growth. You have six, seven of those countries in Africa that have registered strong economic growth, and the projection of 2014 moving forward is clearly also showing that Africa is going to be the place. So, that is why we believe conferences like this, engagements like this are welcomed developments for Africa to be marketed”, he stressed.
President Koroma reiterated the fact that the African situation is not as risky as people would imagine. A drought or famine in Africa, he said, has not triggered a commodity crisis and efforts of the financial market in Africa had also not triggered a financial crisis and the return on investment is on the increase. He noted that Africa has positioned herself in a way that it is going to be the engine of economic growth that will not only serve Africa, but be a destination for the world’s economic growth.
Responding to the second question posed by the Director General of IRENA, Adnan Amin that Sierra Leone is incredibly rich in natural resources, an environment of fertile land, huge agricultural potential and also huge minerals, “but you are at the beginning of developing an energy system that’s going to bring the reality. What are your specific challenges and what are your needs from this community represented in this room in terms of their engagement with you to making this happen?”
According to President Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone is home to huge number of mineral resources and arable land, and the responsibility of the government is to create the enabling environment, and said that the legal framework is already being put in place in ensuring that investors partner with the country to exploit the mineral resources in gold, diamond, bauxite and rutile. He also stressed the need for the energy sector to be developed as it is critical to the exploitation and development of the mineral wealth of the country.
“We have created a legal environment that will give space for private sector Participation. Our focus is on regulation. But we are of the view that private sector independent power producers can come in and participate in the generation and distribution of energy”, the President said, and went on to note that the potential for energy is great. President Koroma highlighted the huge potentials the country has in harnessing hydro, solar, and even the possibility of biomass, saying that markets are not only limited to Sierra Leone. “We have the West African Power Pool connectivity that we are now engaged in and the possibility of moving beyond that”. He called on private sector players in the energy sector to come to Sierra Leone and invest as the country is ideal for business.
“Now for us moving forward, we have been engaged with UAE, and in fact, our proposal is one of the proposals that were accepted yesterday and the Freetown Solar Park is going to be an example of how we can create the engagement for opportunities for employment, create a green energy situation which will continue the development process that we have started. But I will say that for us the opportunities are great, the market is great, we have to develop our mining industries and we also have to focus on adding value to the minerals that we produce in the country, and all of it require energy, and I know we have a challenge there.” He said amidst rapturous applause.
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