Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Sierra Leone President Koroma hosted Gambian President Adam Barrow and the two leaders discussed their commitment to upholding democracy in the region. Samuel Sam-Sumana, the former vice president of Sierra Leone, returned to the country. Sam-Sumana is a controversial political figure, having been involved in the ‘Timbergate affair.’ Sierra Leone’s parliament voted against bills that would have legitimised the electoral registration and boundary changing process that began earlier this year in preparation for next year’s general election. Armed soldiers surrounded and entered a police station to free a senior military official who had been arrested and held in custody. The World Health Organisation confirmed a case of monkeypox virus, which is the third known case of the virus in Sierra Leone. A joint effort by Greenpeace and Sierra Leone fishery authorities found four illegal fishing cases. The United Nations Office for Project Services held training events for solar energy companies. Sierra Leone’s only privately owned indigenous bank negotiated a US$6 million line of credit from the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, a multilateral development financial institution. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced they expect most sub-Saharan African countries to grow by around 2.5 per cent in 2017. 

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Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Sierra Leone’s electoral commission began registering voters for the March 2018 elections and are using biometric registration machines to allow registration to be secure and efficient. Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China resigned and highlighted the agreements signed between the two countries in December 2016 that will support cooperation in health, finance, and diplomacy. A 706-carat diamond was found in the Kono region in Sierra Leone and the government will hold a transparent auction for it and use the proceeds to benefit the community and country. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation officially received a mobile diagnostic laboratory from the United States (US), which is part of the US’ work to support Sierra Leone against future health crises. Lassa fever, an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, has been confirmed in Sierra Leone and other African countries. The Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus began a study to test potential vaccines for Ebola in February 2015 and recently expanded to Guinea and announced it will include Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone’s economy was reported to be struggling the most since the Ebola crisis. The International Monetary Fund completed a two-week visit to Sierra Leone and discussed an Extended Credit Facility arrangement, which helps countries with drawn- out balance of payment problems. KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, resumed flights to Sierra Leone after 21 years. 

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Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Sierra Leonean President Koroma undertook a trip to China to thank the country for its help during the Ebola crisis, to discuss continued cooperation in areas like infrastructure and mining, and potential cooperation in areas like public health and tourism. Sylvia Blyden, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs announced she would implement new standards for transparency, openness, and accountability by keeping a log of her daily activities. Successful trials for an Ebola vaccine were concluded and international organisations and scientists are optimistic this breakthrough will help protect against a future crisis. Sierra Leone’s dry season began in December, which marked the start of increased availability of food for households and employment opportunities for farm labourers. The National Nutrition Survey data showed that almost 30 per cent of children under the age of five have stunted growth and over 10 per cent of those children are underweight in Sierra Leone. Sylvia Blyden said that 60 per cent of Sierra Leone’s women live in rural areas and she announced plans she and President Koroma have to help alleviate the problems these women face in areas like education and agriculture. The International Monetary Fund finished its review of Sierra Leone’s economic performance and found that the country required additional funds, but that the economy performed reasonably well. Raymond Kai Gbekie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), won the CEO award for 2016. SLIEPA is responsible for promoting and creating foreign and domestic investment opportunities. Kaifala Marah, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, launched the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017-2020 with objectives of making financial services affordable and available to all Sierra Leoneans and businesses, to advance financial literacy, and more.

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Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China met with the Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone to discuss points of cooperation and development. A new project funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development to facilitate the transition and increase completion rates of girls in secondary school. It will address security issues girls face in getting to school and will help them get back to school after leaving. Since schools have re-opened after the Ebola crisis, a number of students have tried to return to complete their educations. However, girls who became pregnant during the hiatus are facing obstacles and discrimination. Parliament approved over $150 million for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The National Polio Round Four Campaign began, which will target children under the age of five. Investigations began into a man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in Wilberforce, a neighbourhood in Freetown. Bolloré Ports launched the Freetown Containers Terminal Extension Project, which will create a new, modern dock and will allow larger boats to come into the port. Sierra Leone is cutting government spending to combat economic issues the country is currently facing and will put a hold on new domestically financed capital projects. The European Union (EU) is suspected of planning to terminate its trade deal with countries like Sierra Leone and Nigeria over their failure to sign an economic partnership agreement.

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Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Kandeh Yumkella, the presidential flag-bearer for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, travelled to Nairobi, Kenya for the Expert Group Meeting and Workshop and also attended the 38th Energy Seminar in Oxford, United Kingdom. Sierra Leone’s internal affairs minister announced the death penalty would be utilised as punishment once again to curb gang violence. Female genital mutilation re-emerged despite it being banned during the Ebola outbreak. Brussels Airlines threatened to suspend its flights to Sierra Leone over security concerns. Two women were sentenced after pleading guilty to impersonating medical professionals, which highlighted the problems with Sierra Leone’s health care industry. Sierra Leone’s attorney general spoke out against the increased gang violence in the country and highlighted that a murder is reported on average once every two weeks in Freetown. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) undertook a mission to Sierra Leone and released a fairly positive report highlighting the economy’s upward trend, but indicated there were still a number of improvements to be made like controlling debt and increasing efficiency of public spending. Sierra Leone and the European Union (EU) signed a EUR 35 million deal to improve agriculture production, which is part of Sierra Leone’s Boosting Agriculture and Food Security programme. Sierra Leone’s energy minister complained the International Monetary Fund’s suggestions encouraged the government to increase the electricity tariff by 15 per cent and expressed concerns that the price of petrol will increase too much.

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

Representatives from Sierra Leone and South Sudan to China met to discuss experiences and the rebuilding process after each country’s respective wars. President Koroma’s Recovery Priorities plan continued with the planting of over a million trees across water catchment zones, which will help ensure water security. Sierra Leone hosted the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Freetown, which highlighted the country’s commitment to end the practice. Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the Republic of Korea met the Brazilian ambassador to discuss agricultural development and economic cooperation. Protesters rioted in Kabal Town over the decision to move a Youth Village, which will have a vocational skills training centre and agricultural facility, from Koinadugu District to Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 km off the shores of Sierra Leone, which concerned officials because of the possibility of a tsunami caused by the earthquake. A group of Mormon missionaries were injured in a car accident in Sierra Leone. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Sector has already made huge gains in 2016 and is expected to exceed its target of 40 billion leones for the 2016 fiscal year. Swedish government officials and members of the board of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) visited Sierra Leone to get the government’s permission and support to implement their findings in the country. The EITI is an international organisation that has created a standard to measure how countries manage their oil, gas, and mineral resources and promotes transparency. 

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

Dr Jonathan Bonopha Tenge, a Sierra Leone presidential candidate, visited the United States to meet with members of the North American Team Tengbe Campaign Committee. President Koroma supervised the signing of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa project, which will provide funds to improve Fourah Bay College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone embassy to Nigeria reportedly paid a ransom to secure the release of kidnapped Major-General Alfred Nelson Williams. The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) followed up a year after training health workers and providing machines to encourage early testing and diagnosis for HIV-positive babies. The Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation urged health workers to increase their efforts to improve the health of Sierra Leone’s citizens and to expand health care to all chiefdoms and districts. The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Water Resources partnered with the Sierra Leone Water Company to work on potable water supply projects to increase access to clean drinking water. Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development travelled to China to attend the follow up meeting of the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Summit. Sierra Leone’s government approved the first Local Content Policy, which will encourage businesses to hire Sierra Leoneans to further improve the economy. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development said the budget for the 2017 financial year would reflect the recent measures undertaken by the government, which are to diversify the economy and focus on the private sector. 

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

The Peace Building Commission travelled to Sierra Leone to discuss peace building opportunities and goals in the region. The United Nations Security Council urged states to create a solution to the political crisis in Sierra Leone and for a presidential mission including heads of state of Guinea, Senegal, and Sierra Leone to meet to discuss the crisis. President Koroma travelled to Cairo, Egypt to meet with Egyptian officials and discuss issues like cooperation, health concerns, maritime resources, and security. A security breach was reported at Lungi International Airport when a man attempted to board a plane with petrol, a matchbox, and a cigarette lighter. Victor Bockarie Foh, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, urged all Sierra Leoneans to join in the fight against cyber terrorism and cyber theft. The governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone announced he would begin efforts to curb the use of United States dollars instead of the Sierra Leonean Leone in business transactions. The leone depreciated and inflation has risen over the past few months. Electricity was brought to the city of Magburaka, which is part of President Koroma’s plan to expand electricity throughout the country. Members of parliament ratified two new loan agreements to continue the Bo-Bandajuma Road Project and to continue expanding electricity throughout the country. AMR Gold, a mine development company in Sierra Leone, joined the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food Security to provide training for local farmers in villages to begin reforestation. 

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

The leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia met to discuss how to better cooperate to end Ebola in their respective countries. The Minister of Finance spoke out on how important collaboration between nations is when dealing with a global crisis. He also highlighted how instrumental digital payments were during the Ebola outbreak. They allowed workers to be paid on time and decreased fraud. Alie Kabba announced his candidacy for Sierra Leone’s People’s party’s presidential flagbearership joining nine other candidates. The Assistant Inspector General of Police launched the Community Safety Volunteers scheme to complement police work in Kenema to increase security. UNICEF released an update on its European Union (EU) supported training of health workers. Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world and UNICEF is attempting to improve that. It was reported that some of the final cases of Ebola were transmitted sexually or through breast milk. This is important for health workers to know because being aware of these unconventional transmissions will help in preparedness for another outbreak or security concern. The second annual Invest Sierra Leone conference was held. The conference was created in response to the negative economic impact the Ebola crisis had on Sierra Leone. The Energy Revolution programme was launched, which encourages communities to utilise renewable energy, especially solar power. New infrastructure projects were announced including a road that will connect Sierra Leone and Liberia. These come in the wake of great criticism against the government’s agenda. Many people are upset that time and energy is spent on infrastructure when basic needs like access to clean drinking water, electricity, and health care are not being met

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

Sierra Leone celebrated 55 years of independence from British colonial rule. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs increased its travel alert for Sierra Leone over increased fears of the resurgence of Ebola in the country. The Chief of the Standing Police Capacity in the United Nations (UN) Department of Peacekeeping Operations visited Sierra Leone and met with a number of representatives discussing policing and security. A Danish documentary revealed former Sierra Leone child soldiers are being used to guard American military bases in Iraq. British contract companies that work for American security companies are said to have recruited up to 10,000 Sierra Leone fighters since 2009. United States (US) Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Sierra Leone and the two nations discussed how to stop illegal activities lilke trafficking of people and drugs, piracy, and illegal fishing. A primary school in Sierra Leone’s western rural district regained use of its drinking well. Student used to have to travel to collect drinking and hand washing water every day. The well was fixed with the help of UNICEF’s efforts to help Sierra Leone recover after Ebola. The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone destroyed pharmaceutical drugs as part of a plan to crack down on illegal and unsafe drugs in the country. The International Monetary Fund reported Sierra Leone is the ninth fastest growing economy in Africa for 2016. The European Union (EU) warned Sierra Leone to curb illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing or else an embargo will be placed on all fish exported from the country. 

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