Head of EU says Salone gov’t is making solid progress
May 11, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Head of European Union delegation to the Republic of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Peter Versteeg, has said the government, under the leadership of President Koroma, has been making solid progress in implementing the Agenda for Prosperity, despite the adversity brought by the Ebola epidemic and the commodity price downturn.
Ambassador Versteeg, who was making a statement on the occasion marking the celebration of Europe Day on Tuesday, 9th May, 2017 at the Sierra Light House, Aberdeen, wetern Freetown, noted that the European Union is a major partner to the government in a jointly identified priority areas, namely infrastructure, agriculture and food security, good governance and education.
“Sierra Leone and the European Union have been steadfast and close partners for over four decades. We have equal cause to celebrate Sierra Leone’s unfaltering track record of adherence to democratic values as the country moves towards the fourth free, fair and timely elections on March 7, 2018,” he said.
He said for the wellbeing of the current and future generations of Sierra Leoneans, environmental concerns must remain high on the agenda of the decision takers. Notably, he added, the destructive practices of illegal fishing are jeopardising the livelihood of fishing communities and the wealth of the country’s natural resources.
“In this regard, the EU and the government have been closely collaborating to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing since April 2016. The EU welcomes the concrete actions Sierra Leone is taking at the policy and operational levels and will maintain an active dialogue until the shortcomings are addressed in a robust and long-lasting manner,” he said.
He disclosed that the EU was working closely with the government in an effort to develop environmentally-sustainable and diversified agricultural practices to enhance yields and to preserve the environment and natural resources of Sierra Leone.
In line with climate change priorities and set targets, he added, the EU and the government were collaborating together on a number of pioneering initiatives in the renewable energy sector, particularly targeting rural areas which saw the recent inauguration of solar grids in Segbwema, Kailahun and Panguma, Kenema.
“The Europe Day is a perfect occasion to showcase the strong partnership between the European Union and Sierra Leone and EU-African relations, built on shared values and principles, a growing political dialogue, trade and investment relations,” he stated.
“On a more personal note, this will be the last time I celebrate this occasion with you, as my stay in Sierra Leone is coming to a conclusion. The time I spent in this beautiful country will leave an indelible stamp on my memory of the heart-break of confronting the toughest Ebola outbreak in history, but also of the joy of experiencing the unrelenting resilience and optimism of Sierra Leoneans that has allowed the country to be back on its feet in no time, and to continue building the nation’s future,” he noted.