China Aid has funded the construction of the first Foreign Service Academy in Sierra Leone and the Mano River Union Countries, which was constructed by the China Railway Seventh Group (C.R.S.G.) Company. The multi-million dollar modern building, the nineteenth Foreign Service Academy in Africa, was officially commissioned by Sierra Leone’s President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio on Thursday 5th January 2023 in Freetown.
Expected to commence full operations on 1st February 2023, the Foreign Service Academy has been established to serve as the professional training and educational institute of the Sierra Leone Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and to address the capacity gap in the Foreign Service and promote research, educational excellence, career development and service to the Nation.
Deputy General Manager and Country Director of China Railway Seventh Group, Xinguo Du, remarked that his company is highly grateful to hand over the Diplomatic Academy after two years of intensive work following a high-quality design done by Chinese professionals. He thanked the Government of Sierra Leone, the Chinese Embassy, and all those who supported the projects. “We have worked collaboratively with local staff to complete the project on time,” he said and furthered that their teamwork has proven that CRSG is a reliable partner.
The company, he said is known for good works in completed projects like the Lungi-Port Loko Road; the Mange-Mambolo Road; the Grafton-Regent Youyi Road; the Wilkinson Road; the Bo-Kenema Highway; the Makeni-Matotoka Road; the Wellington-Masiaka Highway, the Juba and Savage Street bridges, etc.
“With true friendship, CRSG has been growing bigger in Sierra Leone and we are committed to working with the Sierra Leone and Chinese Governments to further strengthen their ties,” he assured.
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing revealed that the brand new, state-of-the-art Foreign Service Academy Building is a Christmas and New Year gift from the Chinese government and people to the Sierra Leonean government and people and added that capacity building is of essence to nation building. “I hope and believe this academy will become Sierra Leone’s “Cradle of Diplomats” where more career diplomats from this country and even the sub-region will be nurtured and cultivated,” Wang said.
“While Sierra Leone is making progress under the New Direction Agenda, China’s new journey will create more opportunities for our bilateral cooperation including market access and investment. Standing at this new starting point, under the strategic guidance of H.E. President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, we can be sure that Chin-Sierra Leone relations will have a more shining and promising future,” the Chinese Ambassador assured. He continued by thanking the Chinese experts from the China Railway Seventh Group and all other Chinese and Sierra Leoneans for their active support and contribution. “You have overcome various challenges, especially the COVID-19 pandemic. I and my colleagues in the Embassy appreciate your hard work,” Ambassador Wang said.
Professor David Francis, Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs Minister said the new Academy shows that this is the right time to significantly increase his Country’s investment in Diplomacy.
He recalled President Bio’s request for a Foreign Service Academy during his meeting with President Xi in Beijing in 2018, which was approved, an agreement signed in 2019, and construction started in 2020. He thanked the CRSG for completing the work on record time and stated that he is impressed by the quality of work done.
The new Academy, Prof. Francis said serves as a center for excellence that will provide high-quality and professional service training to all cadres in the Foreign Service. He furthered that it will also provide local and international short courses to their African compatriots. “It is a majestic magnificent Academy that will be put to good use,” the Foreign Minister assured and added that it is a core delivery priority that will provide quality programs and activities. and international best practices will be used in the Academy.
Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio described the new Foreign Service Academy as a testament to the mutual cooperation and a shared vision with the People’s Republic of China. He thanked President Xi for supporting the socioeconomic development of Sierra Leone. “Our ties with China have deepened good development cooperation in key sectors like agriculture, education, infrastructure, health, etc. Bio said the new Diplomatic Academy is part of his government’s human capital development achievement.
It will help solidify our effort in building Sierra Leone’s good image across the world and it will train people to become professional diplomats. It will enable diplomats to represent us well and they must ensure that they are well-trained and competitive,” he noted.