The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba on Thursday 7th March, 2019 received South Africa Airport Company delegate at his Tower Hill office in Freetown.
Presenting the delegates, the South Africa Deputy High Commissioner, His Excellency Thapelo Madumane recalled discussions held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with Non-Resident Heads of Missions sometimes last year, wherein he had the opportunity to discuss matters relating to the cooperation between the Sierra Leone Port Authority and the Airport Company of South Africa and to see how they can cooperate in bringing the Lungi International Airport to international standard.
He said he promised to come with the experts who are now in the country to share their expertise.
The Deputy High Commissioner said he knew that the refurbishment of the Lungi International Airport is a key priority of His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio and that it is one of the priorities of the ‘New Direction’ Government.
His Excellency Madumane went on to state that, the aviation sector is one that required to be developed for Africa to be interconnected and also, foster south-south cooperation.
Welcoming the delegates on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba expressed deep appreciation for maintaining the bilateral ties between Sierra Leone and South Africa.
He said the two countries have been working very closely in many areas and that the Leaders of these nations have had opportunities to engage many times and most recently, at the Au Summit in Addis Ababa.
Dr. Kabba said, during A.U side meetings, the two Presidents always expressed profound affections and held discussions on area that the two countries can leverage in deepening and strengthening their ties.
Minister Kabba told the delegates that, Sierra Leone is endowed with a lot of investment opportunities adding that His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has made it clear that, as a serious and focus oriented President, his government is going to be focused on Economic diplomacy and promote relationships with other Africa countries to ensure that whatever opportunity that is going to be derived from such relationships, will be leveraged well for the development of the continent.
“It is very true that we have to deepen the African engagement as far as investment and trade opportunities are concerned.” Dr. Kabba averred.
The Foreign Affairs Minister furthered that, as a new government, it is very clear to them that, infrastructure is a key to national development and that the airport is a major project and one of the pillars of the government’s national development priorities as they wanted to open the economy, attract tourist, among others.
He said that the ‘New Direction’ Government has also focused on other key areas such as agriculture, fisheries etc. to diversify the country’s economy.
He informed that, the country has signed and ratified the Continental Free Trade Agreement at the AU. This he said spelt out the interest of the ‘New Direction’ Government in opening up borders for trade and to attract investment opportunities.
Welcoming South Africans in the country he said, was a demonstration of deep commitment to the African aspiration of collective focus in the area of development of the continent.
Mr. Charles Shilowa from the Group Executive Business Development Department of the South Africa Airport Authority Company explained about their work in other part of the continent, stating that, they believed in African development that’s why they wanted to expand their work to Sierra Leone.
The Representative from the Development Bank of South Africa, Huusani Makhuuha thanked the Minister for his warm welcome; stating that they have been embarking on development projects in the continent and that he is in the country to give the Bank’s support to the South Africa Airport company.