February 20, 2019
Former Director General of the National Mineral Agency (NMA) , Shar Wonday, on Thursday, 14 February, 2019,handed over the mantle of leadership to incoming Julius Mattai as the new head of the agency.
Shar Wonday, who is a year away from retirement, presented an approximately 150 pages comprehensive note, which clearly outlined the opportunities and challenges of the sector.
“The NMA has made significant progress since its inception in 2013.However, there are still many challenges and the way forward on some of the pertinent issues have been provided in the comprehensive report,” remarked Wonday.
He congratulated the NMA for appointing a very worthy and more than capable successor.
“I have no doubt with his expertise, professionalism, integrity and in-dept knowledge about the mining sector in Sierra Leone. He would take the NMA to a higher height,” he said.
“It has been a pleasure serving my country, and I want to thank the government of Sierra Leone for giving me that privilege to serve. I wish the NMA success as we continue with the difficult and challenging task of ensuring that Sierra Leone derives benefit from our mineral wealth.”
The outgoing DG also explained that his relationship with the incoming DG went back since Mattai was a laboratory assistant at the Sierra Rutile.
“I’ve seen him grown and developed into the person he is today. Really, that aspect of him pleases me the most, and because you build something you want to know that it’s going to be sustained.”
“I want everybody to understand why I needed to go and rest. It was not an easy decision I want to leave a stress free life and doing my own thing going forward. That is really why I made the decision,” he said
On his part,DG Julius Mattai said his predecessor has left behind a big shoe to fill “but I’m going to grow into it and I’m sure I’m going to get obese in it.But I’m noting going to do that alone. I’m going to do that with you all as a team and we would grow this agency together,” he said.
Mattai underscored the importance of mentorship, stating that “I’m a strong believer that you have to motivate people, inspire them and empower them.”
He disclosed that he returned to Sierra Leone after 26 years in the diaspora, so as to give his expertise and also wanted to see how he could develop together with other young men and women in the country.
He also noted that the NMA has a strategic plan which expired in 2018, stating that his first move would be the development of a new plan.
“What I have to do in collaboration with other MDAs is that we would develop that strategic plan. As a new DG ,there are certain things I need to address, because since mining started in Sierra Leone,I don’t think that Sierra Leoneans are deriving the benefit we’ve been endowed with as a country.”
NMA Board Chair, Kadijatu Conteh, explained that statistics has shown that the contribution of the mineral sector towards the GDP of Sierra Leone has dwindled over the years- from 27% in 2014 to 5% in 2017.
“We cannot allow that to continue to happen because it is adversely affecting our country.”