The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mrs. Nimatulai Bah-Chang has assured the German delegation of her Ministry’s readiness to fast track the process leading to the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement. She made the statement during a familiarization visit of the delegation in her Tower Hill Office in Freetown on Wednesday 14th November, 2018. Mrs. Bah-Chang said that fast-tracking the signing of the Agreement will demonstrate commitment on the part of the Government of Sierra Leone. “We are ready to show our cooperation on issues of development in line with the New Direction campaign Manifesto” she emphasized. The Acting Minister pleaded with the German Team to look into the issuance of Shenge Visa by opening an office in Freetown that receives Visa application instead of travelling to Ghana to get Shenge Visa constituting an extra financial burden on Sierra Leoneans.
Mrs. Bah-Chang informed the delegation on the New Direction Agenda and its flagship programme called “Free Quality Education” which she described as the Blue Print of President Bio’s Government. She stated that strengthening development cooperation is vital for the two countries, stressing that capacity building for youth is necessary. The Acting Minister educated the German delegation on the Ministry’s plan to establish a Diplomatic Academy to train young Diplomats who will replace the aging Diplomats in the country, and solicited financial and technical support towards the establishment of the Academy. She called on the delegation to assist in facilitating investment partnership that will create jobs for youth, adding that capacitating and creating jobs for youth will reduce financial assistance to Sierra Leone as the Ministry has graduated from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy. The New Direction Government is business friendly and ready to receive any investor that will bring investment for the benefit of majority Sierra Leoneans. She communicated her appreciation to the German Government for the development assistance rendered the country recalling the support to the police and the KFW support to the HIV/AIDS prevention programe. She encouraged the delegation to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The German Ambassador to Sierra Leone Horst Gruner informed the Acting Minister that the delegation is in the country to know the priorities of the New Direction with the aim of moving the cooperation forward. He said that the Shenge Visa issue will be fully look into and assured of working to ensure solution to the problem. He accepted the proposal for the promotion of private business which is in tandem with economic diplomacy, and elaborated on the need for the right policies and enabling environment that will attract investors in the country.
Rene Franke, Senior Policy Officer, Federal Ministry for Economic cooperation and Development who led the delegation told the Acting Minister that the delegation is in Sierra Leone to reflect on progress and challenges of German projects. He explained that the main priority of the German Government is sustainable development and youth cooperation. Mr. Franke informed about plans to provide financial and technical support to Government of Sierra Leone priority areas as well as strengthen the health sector. He called for the availability of a conducive business environment that will make both local and international businesses thrive.
The Regional Director for West Africa KFW, ANDREAS Fikre-Mariam said financial cooperation on infrastructure will be provided through the Global for Peace Consolidated Programme. He explained that construction and rehabilitation of feeder roads will boost economic development in the country. Director Fikre-Mariam told the Acting Minister about plans to focus on epidemic control with the aim of saving lives citing the Ebola scourge that killed over thousand Sierra Leoneans.
The Acting Director General-Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Al-Hassan Kondeh recalled the German delegation’s attention to the support Germany was provided to Sierra Leone in the 70s in the areas of vocational training. He appealed for the empowerment of youth in vocational skills in areas of mechanical and electrical engineering. The delegation can make maximum use of available land in agricultural production. He encouraged Ambassador Horst to be providing the German Government with the actual situation/happenings in Sierra Leone, stating that providing the Government back home will deter fake news propagated by ill-motivated Sierra Leoneans with the aim of preventing investors from doing business in the country.