February 21, 2017 By Alfred Fornah
The Director and other staff of the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA), on Monday, 13th February, 2017, hosted a delegation of three including two Sierra Leonean experts from Holland at their head office at 8 Wesley Street, Freetown.
The delegation was led by Mr. Mange Sesay, IOM’s Project Coordinator for the Connecting Diaspora for Development Project (CD4D).
The diaspora experts are in country in order to participate in the ongoing CD4D Project. The two Professionals are Dr. Robert Chakanda, assigned to Fourah bay College to provide expertise on Geographic Information System (GIS), and Mr. Umaru Bah , assigned to take up task as an ICT Expert at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET)
The CD4D programme, which is operated by the International Organisation for Migration -Netherlands (IOM) is a continuation of the Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals (TRQN) project; the programme links diaspora members with Dutch residency to institutions in their countries of origin.
This will be done via physical and online assignments with organisations and institutions in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, and Somalia. The CD4D project aims to exchange knowledge, skills of migrants for the reconstruction and development of their country of origin. CD4D is demand driven, based on priorities and development strategies of the countries of origin of diaspora experts.
In Sierra Leone, three priority areas including Health, Agriculture and Education have been identified by IOM and the Office of Diaspora Affairs to be provided with capacity by Sierra Leonean professionals residing in the Netherlands.
According to Mr. Mange Sesay, the most important element of the programme is to see that experts come from Holland and provide supports to the identified institutions in the country.
“We deem it necessary to introduce the first two participants to ODA because it is the main government institution that is coordinating diaspora activities in Sierra Leone, and one cannot do anything about diaspora without their inclusion; in fact they have been playing an important role in this entire CD4D project,” Mr. Sesay said.
In his statement, the Director, Office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh, explained ODA’s Mandate to the two CD4D participants and recounted progress made by the office over the years. He also informed them that his institution is carrying out a talent database survey of Sierra Leonean Diasporans. He went further to state that they have established desk offices in the various entry points of the country, adding that they have officials attached to these desk offices charge with the responsibility to collect data; seeking relevant information especially for those diasporans who have plans to come home, contribute their skills and resources to national development. ‘’We requested for Sierra Leone to be included on the CD4D project through a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The programme is really recognized by government of Sierra Leone because when IOM CD4D Consultant, Zia Gulam came from Holland, he paid a courtesy call on the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs and the Hon. Vice President, Victor Bocarie Foh.’’ Mr. Conteh explained. He advised the two participants to be patriotic and offer their best to the country. He promised that they will ensure the programme is monitored.
Mr Umaru Bah assured that he will perform his assignment diligently; and will ensure to leave a legacy and transform ICT education at the MMCET. Also Dr. Robert Chakanda promised to give his best to FBC.