Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 April 2018:
After a week of successful Commonwealth Summit in London, president Julius Maada Bio arrived in Doha, Qatar yesterday, Saturday 21st April 2018, for a state visit on the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, says Sierra Leone’s State House Media.
The state visit by president Bio is aimed at building bilateral relations, focusing on education, agriculture, trade and investment, youth employment, tourism and a range of other issues.
President Julius Maada Bio yesterday initiated the Sierra Leone-Qatar Business Council at a meeting held with a high-powered delegation from the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Doha, during which, he told members of the Chamber that Sierra Leone presented unique opportunities for private investment, and that his new Government will create the appropriate environment where businesses have confidence to invest in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone-Qatar Business Council will comprise of members of the business community from both Sierra Leone and Qatar.
The council will not only focus on potential investments, but also enhance the economic cooperation between the two countries. President Bio says that Sierra Leone needs credible investors.
President Bio also told the Chamber delegation that his visit would also be a learning process as to how Qatar has efficiently managed its natural resources for the benefit of the country and people.
The Chairman of the Governance Transition Team -, Professor David J. Francis, said that Qatar should take Sierra Leone as its strategic economic hub for West Africa, because of its huge potentials.
Francis also highlighted several areas including tourism, fisheries and the need for operational airline to Sierra Leone, that will be used to connect other African countries. He stated that as a new Government, they will review all recent agreements signed between the Qatari Government and the outgone Koroma Government.
In response, the Vice Chairman of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohamed Bin Ahmed Bin Tower Al Kuwari thanked the President for his visit and assured him of the Chamber’s commitment to invest in Sierra Leone.
Kuwari called for a conducive business environment to be created by the new Government, as he praised the President for his initiative to create the Sierra Leone-Qatar Business Council.
The Qatari economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East and indeed the world. High growth rates have been maintained due to the high cost of hydrocarbons on the world’s commodities markets.
Commenting on president Bio’s state visit to Qatar, the former Head of State House Communications in the Koroma government – Jarra Kawusu-conteh said: “Relations between the State of Qatar and Sierra Leone got stronger after Sierra Leone’s solidarity with Qatar during the political impasse with Saudi Arabia and its neighbours. That impasse culminated in the recent blockade of Qatar.
“The Qataris are looking for opportunities to open up their economy by establishing trade and diplomatic relations with nations in the wider world.
“Following the deadly mudslide and flash floods on August 14, 2017, the Qataris reciprocated in solidarity with Sierra Leone by sending a plane load of relief items to ameliorate the challenges government and the people of Sierra Leone were faced with.
“There is therefore the need to cover more areas of cooperation and the two countries have already signed several MOUs in the areas of air services, tourism and culture, energy, health, works, youth and sports, trade, youth in labour and diplomatic relations.
“President Maada Bio’s visit is therefore an attempt to not only strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries, but also an opportunity to follow up on agreements signed during the last state visit by former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.”
In February 2018, president koroma was in Qatar where he held talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to find ways of enhancing cooperation and relations between the two countries, as well as to explore prospects for investments in the economy, trade, agriculture and tourism.
The Emir and former president Koroma signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding between both countries, including an agreement aimed at encouraging and protecting mutual investments, an agreement on economic, trade and technical cooperation and an agreement on air services between the governments of the two countries.
The two countries also signed MoU on cooperation in the cultural field; an MoU between the foreign ministries of both countries on procedures for political consultations on issues of common concern; and an MoU on cooperation in the field of youth and sports.