China ramps up support for Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 August 2019:

China is sending almost 7,000 tons of food aid to Sierra Leone to help cushion the effects of the growing hardship facing millions of Sierra Leoneans, as the government struggles to manage the economic downturn.

Millions of people, especially children are at risk of severe malnutrition as food prices continue to rise.

Speaking to president Bio at State House yesterday, the new Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone – Hu Zhangliang, said that the first two consignments of 2,000 tons of food aid has arrived in Freetown and are being delivered.

But there has been no information from the government as to how this large consignment of food aid from China is being distributed and where.

Another 1,500 tons of food support will arrive in the next few days, and 3,400 tons arriving soon, said the ambassador, who according to State House report was in State House to discuss bilateral relations and development projects with President Julius Maada Bio.

“I extend warmest greetings from His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, who is very much impressed with your presidency, particularly in areas of territorial integrity, sovereignty and security, diplomacy and development,” the Ambassador said.

The ambassador spoke to the president about the feasibility studies that is being conducted for the rehabilitation of Wilberforce Military Barracks, which houses the Hockey Pitch and 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, as well as the construction of the Foreign Service Academy. He said that the studies have been completed and contract tendering process is underway.

China is also providing Sierra Leone with a loan (figure not known), for the implementation of phase two of the rolling out of fibre optics cable across the country to improve access to the communications superhighway.

“The Chinese government has also made special arrangements for the loan application for the Optical Fibre Network phase two project and we have already approved the loan application. Once Ministry of Finance is done with the loan deal, the work will commence within three weeks,” he said.

The Chinese government will also help develop the country’s international Lungi Airport. In particular, China will modernise the airport’s VIP lounge, which recently was the subject of much fracas between the opposition APC and the government, after former president Koroma was denied access to the lounge.

“In terms of improving the capability of receiving state guests, my government is considering to help your government set up a VIP convoy with bikes, cars and support cars. And I believe that all of these will be delivered by February 2020. We are also looking at the rehabilitation of the VIP Lounge at the Lungi International Airport,” he said.

The Chinese Ambassador also said that as a way of improving the human capital development, which is the flagship program of the New Direction government, Chinese universities will accept 100 new students from Sierra Leone; more than 30 military officers to study in China; as well as offer over 700 Chinese short courses by end of the year.

President Bio said that he is happy to receive the new Chinese Ambassador to discuss issues relating to the two countries’ current and future projects.

“I am happy with the development of ongoing projects, the fibre optic extension which is visible, the food aid, VVIP Convoy, the rehabilitation of the Wilberforce Military Barracks, and improving on the number of Sierra Leonean students. We think this falls in line with the government’s human capital development agenda. As true friends we will also work together,” President Bio said.

But there was no mention of, or discussion about the proposed $2 Billon Lungi Bridge across Lungi Airport to mainland Freetown, which was launched by president Bio a few months ago.

So far there has been no take up of the president’s request for tenders from potential investors, possibly due to low return on investment forecast as well as political risks.

Critics of the government say that the government should be focusing on meeting the most basic of needs of the people, such as improving the nation’s healthcare, improving access to clean drinking water and electricity, low-cost housing, investments in key sectors to create jobs, as well as fixing the broken economy.

Sierra Leone has cancelled its mining agreement with the Chinese iron ore mining company – Shandong Minerals Ltd, because of serious breaches by the company.

Iron ore was Sierra Leone’s largest single export revenue earner. But production slumped in 2015 when global prices of minerals fell. The country was also hit by Ebola. Sierra Leone’s economy is yet to recover from those double shocks.

With China’s economy facing huge challenges and possible slowdown, due to its trade war with America, there is likely to be a freeze in China’s investment in new largescale infrastructure projects in Africa.

Sierra Leone’s ministry of  mines is currently reviewing all mining contracts to ensure that their terms are favourable to the people of Sierra Leone.

The country is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties and taxes from mining companies – monies that could be spent by the government in tackling poverty and creating jobs.

12 Comments

  1. Unlike countries like Nigeria or Ghana who can proudly boast of different forms of Foofoo made from pounded Yams, Cassava and Plantains, the average Sierra Leonean will always complain that they are starving because they haven’t eaten their prestigious Rice.

    Thanks to the Chinese government for their timely gesture and I hope and pray that the Agriculture Minister is still working on his plans which will help solve this rice problems in the near future.

  2. This is serious sovereign copromise on the part of Sierra Leone.

    How can a country with a given favorable climate for rice growing be reduced to a begging bowl?

    What is happening?

    Why can’t we learn? Is this just a donation?

  3. Since the early days of the A P C. under former President Siaka Stevens, the Chinese government has always been helpful. Looking at the territorial size and population of China, one would doubt how the Chinese are helping to feed a nation with less than 8 million people, endowed with vast fertile lands that are able to support sustainable agriculture but yet have decided to make corruption a centre-stage.

    This is all the reason why Sierra Leone is always a “beggar state”. Politicians and people talk big before doing or boast whenever they have done anything they felt it is necessary to bluff.

    I don’t think I have ever praised a leader in my country. When I have voted for you and you have won, work. That is what you said you would do when you come to power. If I happen to be in power one day, my best message to my people is to ask them not to clap for me for any meaningful success.

  4. This is great but how long can this sustain our food security and nutrition drive? How long can we continue to survive on supplies as if we are in a conflict situation or in camps?

    I would prefer China to teach us how to farm than give us supplies. Teaching someone to fish is better than giving him fish. My greatest concern is how will this be evenly distributed?

    Maybe by Chiefdoms or wards – but the chiefs and councilors will take the lion’s share and politics will raise its ugly head. How do we ensure this supplies do not end up in shops owned by the business class? Are we going back to the days of ‘towline’ or long cues?

    SLPP be careful how this is handled. It could have been better if this food is converted into Leones and shared amongst the 6.5 million people by household.

  5. Yes of course no doubt about that. It all started under EBK APC; thank God the country is not sleeping anymore. The 2018 presidential campaign, I hope you were watching the Chinese Citizens campaigning along side APC? God bless the Bio led SLPP government to root out Sierra Leone out of the hands of EBK led APC gov’t and this will not happen anymore.

    Some of us don’t even think about what they saying in this social media, why criticizing the late president Kabba again? For God’s sake may his soul rest in peace. Bio is going to finish his second term by the power of God and guess what, the 2007 mistake will never happen again.

  6. LOL, the Chinese Government have noted the world hunger index for Mama Salone and is doing the needful!! But then as the saying goes ‘better to teach someone to fish than keep giving them fish’.

    In the case of Sierra Leone since it appears we have lost the skill of growing rice, which our forefathers took to the new world, the Chinese could do well to re-educate us as well as provide the modern machinery for mass cultivation.

  7. It is good to see the Chinese coming to our aid. What a good gesture from the Chinese ambassador but I wonder at what cost. What are the people of Sierra Leone going to give in return – our marine resources, diamonds, gold, iron ore or even our timber, and before I forget, the prospective oil. I wonder……..

  8. If someone ever tells you that Sierra Leoneans, have no dignity and integrity whatsoever, do not be appalled, because it is true.
    Our nation has let everyone down, especially Almighty God who created us, and blessed us generously with countless minerals, robust green forest reserves and limitless pristine clear ocean waters bubbling, and thriving with sea creatures.

    2019 and we are still begging? Accepting handouts? What a big disgrace that others have to feed your little ones, aged and disabled for you.

    These nose-running leaders need to retire from politics completely. All of them in the Corrupt APC, and Crooked SLPP must now move on. It is time for them to call it quits.

    For decades they have stolen, recklessly borrowed, created tribalism, promoted lawlessness and mayhem while the innocent masses continue to languish in abject poverty. We now need a minority tribe, with clean hands to now govern, rule and oversee the interest and affairs of this nation.

    The Northerners and Southerners need to wash their filthy hands from politics completely. They have failed Sierra Leone miserably and totally.

    It is time to do the unthinkable and hard tedious work of restructuring our democracy, and putting solid pillars in place to safeguard the future of our beloved nation. EBK,BIO,SAM SUMMANA ,and their corrupt, criminal, thieving cronies need to find something else to do.

    Mountains of Silver and gold will never be enough for all of them. And Gold have I none, these words of wisdom I offer you – Pack up and leave, you are not needed, wanted or appreciated any more.

  9. At first glance, it looks good, 7,000 tons of food. But what kind of food and what are the conditions? I believe if it is rice, for a country like sierra leone normally there should be no necessity to import this basic food. But still, now the acricultural development in the countryside is not target No.1.

    The rehabilitation of the Wilberforce military barracks and the renovation of the Lungi VIP Lounge, thats important?

  10. I thank the people of the republic of China for their timely intervention in the fight gearing towards extreme hunger that we are experiencing in our country now. My advise to the government of Sierra Leone with respect to this rice issue is that they must sell it at an affordable price to the citizens of the country thereby distributing it equally to the 16 districts and the capital city.

    In fact, with respect to the degree of food insecurity for each of these 16 districts and the Capital city, I fully believe that Ministry of Agriculture has a well updated data on the food insecurity rate for every district in the country. The total sum of the money collected from the sale of the rice provided by the Chinese government will further be used to grow food in each of these respective districts. This will help to reduce the importation of rice to Sierra Leone.

    Please Mr. Government, be careful with the way you handle this rice issue as it was the same S.L.P.P. government led by the Late Alhaji Tejan Kabba that got into a ship of rice saga, which was offered by the Libyan government of the late Gadafi. You have been warned!

  11. A new form of colonialism at play. Soon and very soon, China will have absolute control over Sierra Leone’s economy.

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