Foreign Affairs Minister Lobby 15 Scholarships

The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) has allocated 15 scholarships for students from Sierra Leone majoring in medicine, engineering, agronomy and humanities during a visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara to the university campus.

The visit by Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister (22 July, 2017) was aimed at expanding cooperation in education and science with the RUDN University, which hosts over 1,500 African students.

Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara and delegation were received by Larisa Efremova, RUDN University Vice-Rector for International Activity, Igor Ganshin, Director of the Ministry of Education and Science International Department and Andrey Fedorovykh, Attaché of the RF MFA Department of Africa.

In his welcome statement the RUDN Vice Rector, Larisa Efremova, gave an overview on the establishment of the university noting that they are witnessing stable growing interest in Russian education from Africa and the world-over. The University, he said had experienced an increase in its population to 100,000 and over 40,000 of their graduates from overseas.

Vice Rector for International Activity furthered that in order to understand which professions would be in high demand in the next five years, RUDN University conducted a labour market  survey of the main world regions which revealed that Africa is one of priority regions for RUDN University.

‘We are planning to expand cooperation through…“cluster entry” – via agreements with the leading universities of the continent and opening RUDN University centers of the Russian language and pre-university training in large cities”, said Larisa Efremova. RUDN University plans to increase the number of students majoring in medicine, agriculture, engineering and humanities, since Africa needs such specialists, Larisa explained. ‘The most popular courses are taught in English, and there are a lot of academic mobility and refresher training programmes including distance learning, she concluded.

Dr. Samura Kamara said he is impressed by how fast and flexible RUDN University is adapting to global challenges. Expanding academic cooperation he stated, reflects realities Sierra Leone is facing citing examples of: setting up centres for diseases control, lack of specialists in civil engineering, and the need of agronomists for mass food production. ‘Africa needs specialists for improving life quality’, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Dr. Kamara noted that RUDN University has long helped train specialists for Sierra Leone and since 1960 has given the country 143 specialists. He promised to personally control signing agreements with the leading universities in Sierra Leone and selection of the best candidates for RUDN University.

The Director of the Ministry of Education and Science International Department, Igor Ganshin, stressed that they are planning to increase Russian education export by selecting the most attractive places for entrance. ‘RUDN University has always been and will be the Russian leader in preparing highly-qualified specialists for foreign countries’ he ended.

It could be recalled that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recently visited Russia to hold bilateral and multilateral consultations with his counterpart Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov’s.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY FACILITATES RETURN OF 13 SIERRA LEONEAN DOCTORS

20th July 2017 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has facilitated the return of 13 Sierra Leonean Medical Doctors that were stranded in Venezuela after completion of their studies in October last year.

The newly graduated medics, who went to Venezuela on scholarship since 2010 arrived in Sierra Leone on the 24th June 2017.

Speaking on behalf of a cross section of her colleagues during a courtesy call on the Minister of State I, Rosalitta Toogeabu profusely expressed thanks and appreciation to the Minister and officials of the Ministry for their relentless and selfless effort in facilitating the provision of air tickets to return home.  She highlighted several challenges encountered during their course of study in Venezuela, which she attributed to the political and economic situation in the country. Amidst all these challenges she further disclosed, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including the Minister of State I, Director of Multilateral and International Organisations, and Ambassador Bockarie Stevens in Washington DC, who on a yearly basis, paid them visit to assess their plight and then take necessary actions. ‘We are here to express our sincere gratitude to the Minister and the Ministry in particular, for such concern for us’, she added.

Madam Rosalitta Toogeabu appealed to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fast track their deployment, so that they could join their colleagues in the profession to complement government’s effort in delivering quality health services to the people. ‘We have completed our registration process with the Medical and Dental Council’, she ended.

Responding on behalf of the Honourable Minister and the Ministry, the Director General, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir, expressed appreciation and gratitude to the newly trained medical doctors for the love of their country, particularly the patriotic consideration to come back home to serve after working assiduously to achieve their academic goals.

The Director General lamented that the intention of government was not to expose their students to an unrest environment, neither to let them experience an unfavourable situation; noting that the Venezuela government was not also expecting their current economic hardship which has become also unbearable for her citizens.

She highlighted some of the challenges that the government of Sierra Leone is facing as result of the Ebola epidemic, specifically, the adverse impact on the economy, which created the delay in their repatriation. Notwithstanding, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir stated, the Ministry, through the Embassy in Washington DC worked tirelessly to ensure their safe repatriation to Sierra Leone. ‘The Ministry will also continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the remaining students in Venezuela return home safely after the completion of their courses’, she concluded.

Ahead of AGOA in Togo-Sierra Leone participates in US-Africa Business Summit

(MFAIC 25TH July 2017). The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, has on July 13-16, 2017 participated in the 11th Biennial US-Africa Business organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) at Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC.

The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘The US Stake in Africa: A call for greater economic engagement’. The essence of the summit was to highlight US-Africa Business Engagement and to raise the profile of business opportunities in Africa for the American Private Sector. The forum was the first opportunity for African Heads of State, Ministers of Government and CEOs of companies to engage with the new administration of President Trump and US Government officials.

The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Republic of Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC, Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, stated that in the wake of a new leadership in America, this year’s summit came at the right time, particularly with the cloud surrounding certain bilateral trade agreements earlier signed by the erstwhile US Government, which is now faced with the uncertainty of continuity by the new Government based on their own perceptions and strategic intrests.

The CCA, she maintained, is a perfect conduit for Africa that will provide an opportunity for the continent to be heard in the public as well as private sectors in the United States of America. The CCA, the Minister Counsellor underscored, will be very helpful in discussing with African states with a view to facilitating a stronger US-Africa investment and business relationship for the mutual benefit of the two continents and its trade partners/companies in Africa.

Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, furthered that Africa is believed to be the future destination of commerce with huge potential in raw materials, which will be beneficial to the United States, and will provide opportunities for the US companies doing business in Africa.

According to Mrs. Sillah, some of the plenary topics discussed included; the new US administration’s engagement in Africa despite the decrease in Africa’s growth – it is still a viable place to do business; how ICT will transform business in Africa through data collection; Africa’s role in the global supply chain and Tourism – upgrading the African travel experience, among other issues.

In another related engagement, The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, participated in the Mid Term Review Meeting (18th July, 2017) in Washington DC  in preparation for 2017  African Growth and Opportunity Act  (AGOA) Forum to be held in Lome Togo from 8-10 August, 2017.

Sierra Leone she said, as a member of AGOA beneficiary countries, stands to benefit from the engagement if a national strategy is developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to increase access to American markets.  She further stated that Sierra Leone has to do a complete mapping of what it requires to effectively export commodities to the US. ‘We have to do more in building knowledge of rules and standards; developing market intelligence about the US market; identifying niches; and developing domestic infrastructure and promoting trade facilitation; among others, she added.

‘Ebola is over and the country is again ready for business. Image change is needed to positively attract investors to our country’, she concluded.

USAID UPDATES FOREIGN AFFAIRS ON PROJECT ACTIVITIES IN SIERRA LEONE

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and three of its implementing partners (Thursday 20th July 2017) updated the Minister of State I and Senior Management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on project activities implemented in the country between 2014-2017 in the Conference room off the Ministry.

Welcoming USAID and implementing partners-World Vision, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and World Fish; the Minister of State I, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay emphasized the importance of such update meeting while noting that the Ministry, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone signed Grant Agreements with USAID on the improvement of Agriculture and Food Security situation, governance and economic growth. ‘It is therefore imperative that the Ministry that appended its signature to such agreement for and on behalf of Government and the people of Sierra Leone be informed on the progress of projects implemented in the country thus far’, Dr. Sesay added.

The Minister of State I, further stated that engagement with USAID and implementing partners shows the level of accountability, transparency and commitment in achieving the objective set forth in the Grant Agreement signed between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the US Government acting through USAID.

In her response statement, the USAID Country Coordinator Khadijat Mojidi said that mutual accountability is critical for both the government and people of Sierra Leone and for the government and people of the United States because the assistance being offered is really one for a partnership. USAID she said, implements through third party contractors, but in terms of ensuring that what is needed is delivered on time in a manner that is impactful, the Ministry should hold itself responsible. This update meeting between the two countries, she furthered, including implementing partners, civil society, etc. should be a normal process to hold themselves accountable, and review progress based on plans and actuals, to identify achievements and celebrate those achievements; to identify challenges and try to come up with solutions to those challenges. ‘It was the Minister’s insistence that we start this first in a series of update meeting’, she added.

The USAID Country Coordinator noted the current funding challenges they are facing is as a result of a change/shift of priority in the US following the outcome of their elections last November. ‘We are not going to be getting the budget level as we thought – with this challenge we have to come up with a solution by scaling up our activities using the communities and private sector engaged in the country to make up the short falls’, she added. 

Concluding she recommended taking the next set of meetings to the field, through site visits, talk to beneficiaries, review some of the constraints and hear from those much more involved in the day to day activities of these projects.

Update on activity presentations by implementing partners – CRS, World Vision and World Fish respectively acting through USAID climaxed the meeting followed by a question and answer session.

Present at the meeting were: the Director General and senior management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the USAID Global Health Security Agenda Advisor, CRS Country Representative, Country Directors of World Vision and World Fish organisations.

Sierra Leone Re-affirms preparedness for a Toxic Free Future

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Smaura M. W. Kamara has reaffirmed to World Leaders the country’s preparedness to work within the framework of a solid partnership intended to build a toxic free future, where dangerous chemicals are no longer produced, used or released on their sovereign terrains.

The aim of this conference which attracted over 170 countries, 1,400 participant and 70 Ministers of various governments is for participating countries to adopt sound management of chemicals and wastes and to ensure that the environment and human health are protected.

Dr. Samura Kamara in his address to delegates of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions held in Switzerland in April this year said the theme of this year’s high-level meeting: “A future detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste” is indispensable to the effective and healthy management of the world’s environment.

The challenges associated with chemicals and waste he underscored are enormous and harder for countries like Sierra Leone that lack resources, new to the Conventions and have no prior experience of implementation, compliance and reporting.

The Foreign Affairs Minister further reminded delegates that the Vision of Government by 2035 is that Sierra Leone aspires to be an inclusive, green, middle-income country by putting in place an effective environmental management system that protects our biodiversity and is capable of pre-empting environmental disasters. ‘The broad aim of these conventions is consistent with the policy agenda and development aspirations of our Government with regards to building a detoxified future’ he added.

Sierra Leone the Minister maintained is willing and ready to work with all partners and other stakeholders in the domestication and implementation of the Minamata, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions. This he said will enable Sierra Leone to create the appropriate legal environment at the national level to influence the formulation of a national strategy and the required policy actions for the management of chemicals and waste. With the support of the Global Environment Facility and its Agencies Dr. Kamara said, Sierra Leone is currently drafting several legislative instruments geared towards the effective management of chemicals and waste with the aim of protecting human health and the environment.

The country he said is currently engaged in policy actions to continue to demonstrate commitment to the objectives of the three Conventions including stocktaking exercises on several chemicals listed within the Stockholm Convention with a view to updating National Implementation Plan; conducting baseline estimate studies on mercury and its compounds; conducting inventory on obsolete pesticides; developing a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector and improving Medical Waste management; and raising the bar in keeping its citizens informed on the dangers of poor management of chemicals and waste.

Government is therefore “developing national regulatory frameworks to contain pollution and other environmentally harmful activities from the use of hazardous chemicals and waste”. Our government maintains that environmental protection and development are inseparable and looking after one does not and should not exclude the other, he concluded.

It could be recalled that Sierra Leone ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (SC) on 26 September 2003; the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (BC) on 1 November 2016; and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (RC) on 1 November 2016.

Sierra Leone was warmly welcomed as new a member to the BC and RC at the opening plenary session in late April 2017.

At the end of this convention member countries are expected to roll out the implementation of these conventions through Ratification and Domestication. In Sierra Leone it is expected that the EPA will take the lead in the implementation of the policy actions.

The Sierra Leone delegates included Mrs. Haddijatou Jallow (Executive Chairperson, EPA); Patrick Hassan Morlai Koroma and Idris S. Tejan (MFAIC) and Alie Jalloh (EPA).

 

 

Human Rights Commission Presents Report to President Koroma

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Wednesday January 18, 2017, presented the ninth edition of its annual report on the State of Human Rights in Sierra Leone.