Cuban Medical Team to Sierra Leone Meet President Bio at State House

Sixteen Cuban Medical Doctors and Nurses, who are in Sierra Leone to help the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, have today met His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio at State House. 

Presenting the team to the President, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, said that the move was a clear manifestation of the cordial relationship that existed between the people and governments of Sierra Leone and Cuba, adding that it was also reflective of the clear bonding and cooperation between ministries in the New Direction government.

Head of the Cuban Medical Brigade, Bernardo Quintero, thanked the President and people of Sierra Leone for receiving them into the country. He said that they were a group of specialists working with the Sierra Leonean medical team to achieve the government’s objective of fighting the COVID-19.

Cuban Charge’d’ affairs in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Felix Raul Rojas Cruz, recalled that Cuban medical teams had been in Sierra Leone during the Ebola and Mudslide and were again in the country to help fight the COVID-19. While speaking on the historic relationship between the two countries, Ambassador Cruz also noted that the Cuban medical team would contribute once again to the wellbeing of the people of Sierra Leone. 

On his part, President Bio thanked the Government and people of the Republic of Cuba for answering to the call of the Government of Sierra Leone by providing 16 medical personnel to support the country in the fight against the COVID-19. He said that the support provided by Cuba clearly demonstrated their commitment in solidifying the long-standing bilateral relations between the two countries.

He also assured of government’s commitment to the common objective of both countries, which included the principles towards building a just, peaceful and stable world through cooperation and coordination on both bilateral and multilateral fronts.

“The Government and the people of Sierra Leone further appreciate the Government of the Republic of Cuba’s support in the medical sector in the country, by continuously awarding scholarships, over the years, to students to train in the various medical fields. This has greatly contributed in boosting the healthcare system in the country,” he said.

President Julius Maada Bio meets Crown Prince of Emirates, calls for support to Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone President Dr Julius Maada Bio has met with the Crown Prince of Emirates, His Highness Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi where he called for support to Sierra Leone’s development process.

President Bio thanked Prince Nahyan for meeting him to meet and discuss issues
relating to the development and commended him for sending a 22-man delegation to Sierra Leone in April this year.

He said after the visit a lot of progress had been made to foster the relationship between Sierra Leone and the Emirates.
He said his government was moving in the right direction and had been able to bring back international credibility and confidence through fiscal discipline and effective economic management.

He said his government was truly committed to improving the livelihood of its citizens, adding that they were looking for credible partners with genuine intentions to help in the development process.

“We are a small nation but with huge potentials that we can use to better the lives of our people. What we need now are genuine friends who can help us actualise the dreams of making our nation a better place. We will appreciate your support, especially in food production so we can be able to feed our people and export foodstuff to help boost our foreign exchange,” he said.

In his response, Prince Nahyan said that he was happy to meet the President and his delegation. He said they were using technology as a basis for their development in catching up with the rest of the world by bringing the best experts across the world to work in their country. He said they had heard a lot of stories about the challenging history of Sierra Leone and were ready to help the country in its development drive.

President Bio was accompanied by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the UAE, Rashid
Sesay, and other senior members of the government. Later on, the President and his delegation also visited the Sierra Leone Embassy in Abu Dhabi where he had an interactive session with staff of the Embassy.

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone Pays a Courtesy Call on President Julius Maada Bio in Freetown

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone and Guinea, Jean-Marc Grosgurin, has paid a courtesy call to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at his State House office in Freetown.

Ambassador Grosgurin said that he was happy to have travelled all the way from Guinea, where he resides, to not only strengthen the bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and France, but to also discuss the future of the two countries, especially around key projects and investments.

The French envoy also stated that since the closure of their embassy in Freetown in 1996, past governments of Sierra Leone had considered opening a mission in Paris, the French capital that would help the two countries to do business easily. He added that he looked forward to seeing President Bio fulfil that dream of opening an Embassy in Paris. 

In appreciation, the President expressed gratitude for the visit and described it as one that he had been looking forward to since he took up the office in April, adding that the two countries had come a long way.

“The two countries have been close for a long time in trade and investment and that has helped boost our economy, particularly the contributions of French companies in Sierra Leone like Orange SL, Bollore and Air France,” he noted.

He also told the French Ambassador that his government was committed to working with the people of France on economic diversification like marine resources, and trade and investment from very credible investors.

“We have to continually invest in trade and industry so that we can stop going out to beg from our brothers and sisters in other countries,” President Bio said.

German Ambassador and Gambian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Present Credentials to President Julius Maada Bio at State House

The German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Horst Gruner, and the new Gambian High Commissioner, Ebraima Manneh, have presented their credentials to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio during a brief ceremony at State House.

Ambassador Gruner said it was a pleasure handing his credentials to President Bio. He said Sierra Leone and Germany had enjoyed long-standing bilateral ties which he hoped would further be strengthened during his tenure in the country.

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He noted that the was recognised in the international scene as an example for overcoming conflicts, building peace, strengthening democracy and human rights, conducting peaceful elections and fostering economic development.

His Excellency Gruner disclosed that the German government was fully aware of the dignified role that President Bio was playing at the moment on the international stage and that he was particularly grateful to serve in the country.

“The countries have collaborated in a lot of ways, over the years. The fight against the Ebola virus was one that lasted much longer than expected and Germany was one of the countries that helped during the outbreak. Mr President, I can assure you of the full intention of the German government to stand by Sierra Leone in its quest for better social, political and economic future under the New Direction and towards prosperity,” he assured.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Manneh of the Gambia said Sierra Leone and the Gambia had enjoyed a fruitful relationship dating back to the colonial era. He said the two countries had a lot of similarities, especially in culture, which he cherished so much. He noted that a lot of Gambians had visited Sierra Leone, especially in pursuit of education.

His Excellency Manneh expressed his appreciation to President Bio and his new administration for introducing the free quality education, adding that education was the foundation for development. He promised to use his office to further deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“Over the years, there has been a notable increase in the presence of Sierra Leoneans in The Gambia and Gambians in Sierra Leone. I am convinced, therefore, that there is a huge scope for formal cooperation in several areas like education, tourism, cultural exchanges, fisheries, health among others for the benefit of the two counties. I have followed keenly the recent ECOWAS meeting held in Lome and the role you played in the deliberations of that august body. Despite being your maiden attendance, your performance was remarkable. I have no doubt that your effective participation, zeal and the seriousness you have shown at the summit of our sub-regional body will continue to be recognised by your peers,” he said.

In his brief statement, President Bio said: “I welcome you to our country. You are here to strengthen the bond between our countries and while you are here be rest assured of my government’s support”.



Sierra Leone: Government ministers address the press on outcomes of China-Africa Summit

Ministers who returned with His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio from the combined trips of a state visit and the Forum for Africa-China Cooperation Summit (FOCAC) in Beijing have addressed the press on sector specific interests.


Present at the conference hall of the Ministry of Information and Communications at Youyi Building in Freetown were the Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, Development and Economic Planning Minister, Nabeela Tunis, Agriculture Minister, Joseph Ndanema, Information and Communications Minister, Mohamed Rhaman Swaray, Trade Minister, Peter Bayuku Conteh, and Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi.

Mr Saffa, who stayed in China, after the team returned, to complete a series of meetings, said there was need to firm up talks and get commitment around priority projects, debt negotiations and cancellation and to build investor confidence. He said because the New Direction government wanted to engage the Chinese on a win-win partnership on the Lungi Bridge project and others, they thought they must have their own independent data which they were now working on to help them negotiate from a position of strength.

“The Chinese government is giving us RMB 250 million, approximately US$ 40m, as budgetary support. This, in addition to our debt being cancelled, will help our current effort of economic expansion, exchange rate stabilisation and will boost the country as an emerging market,” he said, and assured journalists that they were confident in the content of their negotiations with the Chinese so far.

He said with the Chinese they hoped to access private capital that would not put contingent liability on the government, in the sense that the interest rate would be within reach in the form of concessional loans and which could be paid over a long term period, adding that that arrangement was compatible with Sierra Leone People’s Party government’s strategy.

“You don’t want to go for a loan with over 25 per cent interest rate and that you pay over a five year period, or a loan that creates problems for you. China is a very good source for private capital. It has worked for countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that have developed massive projects ranging from US$1 billion to US$3 billion and up to US$5 billion in Ethiopia and other places,” he said, adding that the government was working on plausible projects that would attract huge grants and concessional loans from the US$60 billion the Chinese government had put aside for Africa.

The minister of agriculture said they explored opportunities around seed production and investment in rice cultivation and irrigation technology to improve on farming outputs and achieve the ultimate goal of adding value to raw materials. He said when they visited the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre in the Hunan Province, they were addressed by scientists and had discussions on the possibility of knowledge transfer.

“Apart from that, the Chinese Government have agreed to provide 50 scholarships annually to the government for Sierra Leoneans to specialise in different disciplines. Also, they have agreed to help us with 6,100 metric tonnes (about 122,000 bags) of rice,” Mr Ndanema disclosed.

While the trade minister talked on his engagement with potential investors, the minister of development, Mrs Tunis, reiterated the fact that inasmuch as the FOCAC meetings were really important and had been fruitful, she reminded the media that the country had a foreign policy of non-alignment.

“The media should focus on and ask questions around real issues when they meet government ministers from very important trips like these, otherwise we will lose the real essence of such engagements,” she said.

Minster of Communications, Mr Swaray, said he was happy to report his quick achievements in starting the negotiations and signing the memorandum of understanding with StarTimes, a Chinese multinational media company with strong presence in Africa, to bolster the country’s digital migration process and transform the public broadcaster, SLBC, which is still analogue based and operated.

He also disclosed that he had discussions on the possibility of an e-government with Huawei Technologies, a Chinese multinational networking, telecommunications equipment, and services company and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.

UN chief urges China, Africa for a win-win collaboration for ‘the future we want’


UN China/Zhao Yun Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at the China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing.

Highlighting the economic and development progress made in China and Africa, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged them to unite their combined potential for peaceful, sustainable and equitable progress to the benefit of all humankind.

Speaking at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in Beijing, Secretary-General Guterres underscored that it is vital that current and future development cooperation contributes to peace, security and to building a “community of shared future for mankind.”

“China and Africa have strengthened their relationship in recent years, enjoying growing mutual trust and exchanges at all levels,” he said.

“I commend this engagement. Cooperation, based on the principles of the UN Charter, can benefit your peoples and can benefit the international community as a whole.”

In his remarks, the UN chief also noted that development cooperation between them is increasing, based on the two mutually compatible roadmaps: the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063.

Cooperation, based on the principles of the UN Charter […] can benefit the international community as a whole – Secretary-General Guterres


UN China/Zhao Yun Secretary-General António Guterres attends Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing on 3 September 2018.

In that context, he highlighted five areas, explaining that these will be crucial for the success of the partnership between China and Africa. These included reinforcing the foundations of Africa’s progress given that stronger cooperation can help achieve sustainable and resilient development in the continent that is inclusive, reaching first those people that are furthest behind.

The Secretary-General also called for ensuring national ownership and African-led sustainable development. He noted the frameworks agreed between the UN and the AU on peace and security, as well as supporting Agenda 2063.

“These frameworks are based on our commitment to be a steadfast and trusted partner of Africa, with full respect for Africa’s stewardship of its own future,” said Mr. Guterres.

Noting the importance of South-South cooperation as “fundamental for fair globalization,” the Secretary-General also highlighted the need to implement North-South commitments, including those assumed in the context of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development.

Mr. Guterres also called for promoting sustainable fiscal policies, underscoring that it is critical that Africa is supported to both preserve and create fiscal space for investments.

Climate change ‘an existential threat’

Further in his remarks, the UN chief also highlighted the existential threat posed by climate change.

“A sustainable future for China, Africa and the world means climate-friendly and climate-resilient development as it was underlined today by President Xi Jinping,” he said noting that the world is getting increasingly aware that climate change and environmental degradation are risk multipliers, especially for fragile states and vulnerable regions.

“China is today a global leader in climate solutions,” he added, urging the country to share its advances with Africa to enable the continent to leapfrog traditional polluting development in favour of green growth.

Concluding his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit “exemplifies the win-win collaboration that is necessary for the future we want.”

“The UN will continue to support the China-Africa Partnership and more broadly, South-South cooperation, so that all nations – in Africa and beyond – may enjoy sustainable and inclusive development,” he said.

President Xi Jinping commits to deepen ties with Sierra Leone


The maiden State Visit by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to the People’s Republic of China has so far been a remarkable success with the two countries signing new bilateral agreements and President Xi Jinping hosting President Bio to a State Dinner.

At the welcome ceremony in Beijing, the host president praised President Bio for his leadership and commitment to strengthening bilateral relations between China and Sierra Leone.

“We are prepared to work with your new Government to deepen the ties with Sierra Leone,” President Xi Jinping assured President Bio.

President Xi Jinping also used the welcome ceremony to brief President Bio about the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) during which he said that the third such summit, this year, aims to build a shared future between China and Africa.

“I will like to work closely with you for the success of the FOCAC Summit,” President Xi Jinping told President Bio.

President Bio thanked President Xi Jinping for the invitation and warm hospitality accorded him and his entire delegation since their arrival. He expressed gratitude to the Government and People of China for the support China has given Sierra Leone, especially in difficult times.

“Since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations about 47 years ago, our two countries have shown mutual understanding and support on issues related to our core interests and major concerns. Our two countries have always stood together at all times,” President Bio told President Xi Jinping.

President Bio was also keen on establishing a new type of bilateral relations with China: “As the newly elected President, I am committed to strengthening our long-standing friendship by focusing on strategic and cooperative partnership. Attracting foreign direct investment from China; fixing the volume of trade imbalance between our two countries, and leveraging opportunities in development aid from China would be key in this strategic and cooperative partnership”.

During the welcome ceremony, new bilateral agreements were also signed between China and Sierra Leone. These agreements include: an agreement for China to send a team of 9 experts to conduct a feasibility study on the fish harbour project; an agreement for the Chinese Government to provide emergency humanitarian assistance of a batch of rice valued at 50 million RMB Yuan; a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and an agreement on the economic and technical cooperation with gratuitous assistance from the Chinese Government of 250 million RMB Yuan.

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After the signing of the bilateral agreements, President Xi Jinping also hosted President Bio to a colourful State Dinner with live band performance. Earlier, President Bio was given a guard of honour accompanied by President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. The impressive welcome ceremony, including the State Dinner and the new bilateral agreements, demonstrated that President Xi Jinping and President Bio represent the new China-Africa partnership.

Despite the huge significance of the State Visit and FOCAC Summit, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio continues to demonstrate fiscal discipline by travelling with a lean delegation to the State Visit and FOCAC Summit.