February 10, 2016 By John Baimba Sesay in China
Sierra Leone’s envoy to the People’s Republic of China Monday (8th February) said with the establishment in 2000 of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), investment strategy and cooperation of China with Africa took on a new phase, focusing on multi-lateral tenets and practices.
Madam Kumba Alice Momoh said that notwithstanding, at the bilateral level, Chinese presence in Sierra Leone and its impact on the socio-economic development of the country continue unabated.
The acting Ambassador to China was speaking at the opening session of the Annual Convention of the Sierra Leone Students Union in Beijing, China, an event which, this year, brought together over 100 students studying in various Chinese universities, thus providing them an opportunity to deliberate on matters dealing with their welfare, amongst others.
Speaking on “The Impact of Sierra Leone-China Bilateral Cooperation on the Socio-Economic Development of Sierra Leone”, Madam Momoh said trade relations and economic and technical cooperation between the two countries have had an increasing surge.
The growth of Chinese investments in Sierra Leone, she noted, has not only brought about employment but also helped in lifting the bars of cooperation ties between the two nations, as well as boosting the trade profile of Sierra Leone, making reference to firms like Shandong Steel and Iron Mining Company and the Henan Guoji Investment Company, which are amongst Chinese economic establishments in Sierra Leone.
Since 1971, she said, the ties between the two nations gave birth to the existing bilateral relations that Sierra Leoneans could readily identify themselves with when China is mentioned, referencing how Sierra Leone was supportive to China during her bid to enter the UN General Assembly.
“This single act of cooperation by Sierra Leone to China raised the level of our bilateral cooperation so high that the Chinese government invited President Siaka Probyn Stevens for a state visit in 1973, barely two years after the establishment of bilateral relations,” she disclosed.
By the end of the tenure of office of President Stevens in 1985, Ambassador Momoh said China had offered so much in infrastructure and capacity building in Sierra Leone that their presence was felt throughout the country. She cited the Mange Bureh and Kambia bridges, the Siaka Stevens Stadium, the Military Headquarters, Police Headquarters, Youyi Building, the Dodo Hydro Electric Power Project in Kenema, the 7th Battalion Barracks, among many other projects that had been completed and commissioned for the good of Sierra Leoneans.
She also dilated on the development policy of President Ernest Bai Koroma, which has been instrumental in the building of fundamental infrastructural bases for growth and development in Sierra Leone, pointing at the electric power generation, roads, transport and communication, and human resource development.
“The earlier part of our bilateral cooperation with China was focused on the enhancement of our infrastructural foundation,” she said, while also dilating on China’s intervention in Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease. She sad China was the first country to send in support and medical staff to the country at the height of the Ebola fight.
Growth factors, she maintained, are dependent on the capacity of human resource base and with the students pursuing their studies, she was certain the growth indicators would be hitting a high in Sierra Leone in the not too distant future.
She encouraged the students to use their experience and analytical expertise and make recommendations on how to improve the existing Sierra Leone-China bilateral cooperation as they are “the agents of growth and development that Sierra Leone is building on”.
Also speaking was Unisa Sahid Kamara, the embassy’s Head of Chancery, who explained to the students government’s commitments to meeting their needs and the role of the embassy in facilitating issues like provision of container annually for the shipment of personal effects of students, and the provision of annual allowances.
The event comes to an end on 11 February to be climaxed with the election of a new executive for the academic year 2016/2017.