Local Government Ministry signs MOU with Chinese counterpart

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MLGCA

By Frederick V. Kanneh,Information Officer

The Minister of Local Government and Community Affairs, Amb. Tamba Lamina has played host to the Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province, His Excellency Fei Gaoyun, and his delegation from China, and together with his colleagues Ministers of Social Welfare and Technical and Higher Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding that would provide a strategic cooperation framework between the two Governments across the fields of trade, investment, human capital development, academic collaboration, vocational and skills training.

Welcoming Vice Governor Fei Gaoyun, and his delegation to Sierra Leone, Minister Lamina expressed delight in representing President Julius Maada Bio who was unable to meet with the Envoy because of his own State Visit to China something that underscored the enormous value that Sierra Leone places on its long-standing partnership with the Peoples Republic of China.

He disclosed that for too long Sierra Leone has been one of Africa’s best-kept secrets with only mineral assets such as iron ore, rutile, gold and now rare earth metals capturing international attention while in the actual truth, the country has more to offer the world, adding that it is home to the largest deep-sea port in Sub Saharan African and sitting at the heart of the 400 million strong ECOWAS consumer market with a growing population of 8 million with over 5 million hectares of arable land, some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, extensive forests & mangroves that provide huge natural carbon sinks.

Tamba Lamina stated that the country is now looking to use these rich natural resources to transform its economy by leveraging investment in the mining sector to develop a new national infrastructure network based on a cross-country railway, major new ports, smart city and a series of regional SEZs that will also open up our most productive agricultural regions to international investment and new global markets.

“HE the President has also placed Human Capital Development and investment in the country’s social infrastructure at the heart of his reform agenda. In his First Term, he expanded basic education through the abolition of school tuition fees and slashed the previous shocking rates of maternal & infant mortality. Now the Government is seeking to build on that foundation by working with the Local Council, the Chieftaincy, and our development partners to ensure access to basic public services in every community across the country as set out in our recently published Medium Term National Development Plan which provides the strategic route-map to make Sierra Leone an inclusive, sustainable Middle Income Country by 2039” he stated while saying that it was in that light that the country welcomed the delegation.

He further highlighted the friendly relationship between Sierra Leone and China which he dated about five decades ago stressing that the Chinese people have provided much more than just diplomatic cooperation and moral support. He added by reemphasizing the importance of the Vice Governor’s visit to strengthening the bonds of friendship between the people of Sierra Leone and those of China and by extension create a new strategic partnership with the Province of Jiangsu

“Today, together with my colleagues the Minister of Technical & Higher Education, Hon Haja Wurie, and Minister of Social Welfare, Hon Melrose Karminty I will have the pleasure of signing an MOU between Sierra Leone and Jiangsu Province that will provide a new, comprehensive & strategic cooperation framework between the two Governments across the fields of trade & investment, human capital development, academic collaboration, and vocational & skills training,” he maintained while assuring that the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing is looking to open a new Economic Cooperation Office next door to Jiangsu Province in Shanghai and will soon be launching a new Sierra Leone – China Business Council to further promote bilateral trade & investment between our two countries.

He ended by expressing the importance of the agreement the two countries have entered into and optimized for further building the mutual development and prosperity of the sisters’ countries in the spirit of South-South Cooperation.

In his statement, the Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province, Fei Gaoyun said Just before the meeting, they read an important piece of news that Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with President Bio of Sierra Leone and that it was believed that President Bio’s visit will give new impetus to the comprehensive and in-depth development of Sino-Sierra Leone relations and promote more achievements in friendship and cooperation between the two countries. He added by expressing appreciation to all the attendees and relayed greetings on behalf of the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Government.

He continued that the visit of the Jiangsu delegation to Sierra Leone is mainly to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication and exchange at the local level, and further deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and seek common development.

He introduced Jiangsu as a Province that is located on the east coast of China, in the Yangtze River Delta region, with a total area comparable to Sierra Leone and a population density more than ten times that of Sierra Leone. He disclosed that the province has a transportation hub with access to the river, the sea, and the world, a large economic province with thriving industries and strong strength, with the total economic output ranking second among Chinese provinces, land of fish and rice, as known as a land of honey and milk, with watery charm and abundant produce, a hot spot of innovation with abundant talents and vitality, with 168 universities, more than 2.6 million college students, and the number of invention patents owned by 10,000 people and the intensity of R&D investment by the whole society are among the top.

The Chinese Envoy mentioned areas that his Government has extended helping hands to Sierra Leone including the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease, the recent Freetown City Council building, and scholarships to Sierra Leonean students to study in their country.

“Looking to the future, we are willing to take President Bio’s visit to China as an opportunity to join hands with Sierra Leone, jointly implement the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, promote our bilateral cooperation to a new level, and make a contribution from Jiangsu to the high-level development of China-Sierra Leone relations.,” he assured while mentioning economic development & trade, skills assistance, and cultural exchanges as possible areas that the collaboration will be focusing.

The program was later followed by the signing of the MoU by both Minister Lamina and the Vice Governor. Other speakers who made presentations were the SOHO Holdings Group, Sumec Group, the Charge de Affairs of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, and the Director of Decentralization Secretariat of MLGCA.

All these happened in full view of the Minister of Social Welfare, Melrose Karminty, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, and the entire Local Government family.

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