September 13, 2018
By Alusine Sesay
While Sierra Leone, with a population of about seven million, cannot provide adequate food to feed its people, China as good and reliable friend of the country has promised to provide 6,100 metric tons of rice to help the food security drive of the ‘New Direction’ administration.
The above disclosure was made by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Joseph Ndanema, who was part of the entourage of President Julius Maada Bio’s state visit to China recently.
Briefing the media on the outcome of the visit and the goodies obtained from therein at the Ministry of Information and Communications Tuesday, the Agriculture Minister said they had fruitful engagements with various stakeholders, who expressed interest in making the country self-sufficient in food production.
Minister Ndanema informed the media that while in China they made several contacts and that they had several companies who expressed interest to invest in agriculture, but added that they only identified two among the rest.
He stated that one of the companies would cultivate about 3,500 hectres in Sierra Leone, disclosing that the said investors would be in country by next month.
He said that they visited a seed research institute where they met with the researcher who discovered the hybrid rice, adding that they discussed the possibility of ensuring knowledge transfer and value addition in food production.
“We are now set to get the ball rolling come next season,” he assured.
In addition, Minister of Finance Jocob Jusu Saffa told the media that the ‘New Direction’ administration was focused on infrastructure that would generate revenue for the country, expressing their determination to deliver the Lungi Bridge, which would possibly be toll.
He dilated on several projects that the government would be undertaking together with Chinese investors, stating that they would have to be careful in whatever investment agreement they would enter into with the Chinese.
“We have to make sure that terms of agreement are clear and conditions favourable,” he said.
Minister Saffa disclosed that the Chinese government has promised to provide about US$40 million budgetary support to the Government of Sierra Leone.
Minster of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, informed the media about the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Star Times, a Chinese multinational media company with strong presence in Africa, to bolster the country’s digital migration process and transform the public broadcaster, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, which still broadcasts via analogue.
He also disclosed that he had discussions on the possibility of an e-government with Huawei Technologies, a Chinese multinational networking, telecommunications equipment, and Services Company and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.