June 1, 2018
The UK Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, has visited Sierra Leone following recent elections and saw how the UK’s longstanding partnership with Sierra Leone is impacting lives in the country.
The minister was welcomed by the most senior members of government as she was hosted by President Maada Bio and met members of his new cabinet, including the Vice President, Chief Minister and Foreign Minister.
Wide-ranging discussions included how the UK could continue to support the country’s ambitions to reduce extreme poverty and invest in its people.
Many areas of common interest were identified, such as economic and social development, as the group discussed the President’s ‘New Direction’.
Ms. Baldwin emphasised that the UK and Sierra Leone will continue to be close Commonwealth partners and noted that she wanted to build equal partnership focusing on long-term economic growth and education, public health, private sector and resilience to climate change.
Following the recent announcement of increase in UK aid support to help girls across the Commonwealth get quality education through the Girls Education Challenge, including £12.7 million for Sierra Leone, Ms. Baldwin also visited a school where girls are being supported through UK aid to stay in school, be safe and learn – giving them and their families hope for a more prosperous future.
The UK Africa Minister said she was pleased to hear about the strong links between UK and Sierra Leone schools through Connecting Classrooms. This year, 36 UK schools sent teachers to Sierra Leone for the annual partnership conference which strengthened the UK school links with over 560 Sierra Leone schools. Also, the British Council has worked in Sierra Leone for 75 years.
She also visited a family planning clinic and spoke to female youth advocates to discuss how best to address the barriers currently facing women in the country.
“As one of our Commonwealth partners, it’s encouraging to celebrate the peaceful democratic transition of power, to work towards a brighter, more prosperous future, free from aid dependency. The UK believes that 12 years of quality education plays a transformational role in economic and social development and we are excited that the new Sierra Leone government will offer free education for all,” she said.
The UK is a longstanding partner of Sierra Leone and played a significant role in helping the country tackle and recover from the devastating Ebola outbreak of 2014 and the severe landslides last year. Lessons learnt from dealing with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone are now proving fundamental in the fast response to tackle the ongoing outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With this productive visit, it is clear co-operation and the warm friendship will continue for years to come.