MoFAIC Building, Tower Hill Freetown, 20th November 2023
The outgoing United Nations Resident Coordinator to Sierra Leone Dr. Babatunde A. Ahonsi today bid farewell to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Musa Timothy Kabba in his office.
Dr. Ahonsi described his three years of serving in the country as awesome; looking at development initiatives that have been instituted by the Government.
“As I leave Sierra Leone, I firmly believe that the important building blocks for economic and social transformation that have been put in place many of which the United Nations development systems were associated with would yield significant returns in terms of economic and social transformation for the people of Sierra Leone. These are not like building bridges that people see. But with time they will yield return,” Dr. Ahonsi said while citing significant gains in Free Quality Education, access to elementary education, and a drop in maternal mortality.
Dr. Ahonsi recalled the time of his arrival in the country in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when Africa was considered vulnerable due to inadequate preparedness to combat the pandemic. But it turned out that due to the strong leadership of His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, Sierra Leone became one of the few countries that had a response in place even before the outbreak of the first case. This he said was because the government was able to quickly implement past experiences of Ebola.
He commended Sierra Leone for being one of the first countries in West Africa to fully vaccinate 70% of its citizens against COVID-19 which was in line with the 70% WHO targeted population by November 2022.
Dr. Ahonsi applauded the Feed Salone initiative of the government which he believes will lead to job creation, boost the economy, and lead to food sovereignty thereby attaining some aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He also commended the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change and Renewable Energy which demonstrates the political will in the fight against climate change.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Musa Timothy Kabba thanked Dr. Ahonsi and the United Nations for being strong partners in supporting government initiatives like the Free Quality Education and other priority areas.
“The United Nations is a strong and reliable partner with Sierra Leone. When you talk about the United Nations, the first thing that comes to our minds is the support to ending Sierra Leone’s civil war and the role that was played in the transformation of the country to the extent that the country now takes part in peacekeeping operations in the world.,” the Minister said.
He said food insecurity is a global malaise, especially in Africa and the move by His Excellency President Bio to initiate the Feed Salone is to respond to that threat which has the potential to undermine the growth of any country.
“President Bio is doing everything to get the Feed Salone right. Our bilateral engagements have been largely on investment in agriculture, and job creation for young people and we continue to work closely with related UN agencies to achieve this initiative.” He said.
The Minister talked about the country’s presence in the United Nations Security Council at a time when there are emerging conflicts across the globe. This he said is the right time for Sierra Leone to share its experience and push for peace in West Africa and other parts of the world.