Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February 2020:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone (USL), yesterday urged thousands of young graduands of the university to become the entrepreneurs who will pioneer innovative local solutions that meet the needs of Sierra Leone and the world at large, and improve the competitiveness of the country.
Addressing the 2020 graduands at the National Stadium in Freetown, president Bio said: “We can roast locally grown Arabica coffee to various tastes and package and label those as organic products from the rainforests of Sierra Leone.
“When marketed accordingly, it will create a Brand Sierra Leone, contribute to GDP, create jobs, and create wealth for the entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone.
“Whatever efficient technologies you use, whether adaptive or disruptive, your objective is clear – create and pursue goals that others are not seeing or can see but have not taken advantage of,” he said.
But he said that for entrepreneurship to thrive, government must create a conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem that would increase participation in entrepreneurship.
“You see our economy, as it was constituted over the last decade and more, is characterised by low to no diversification, low productivity, mainly survivalist – ‘han-to-mot’ – petty trading or microcredit schemes, and a teeming surplus of labour in urban areas. There is also rural poverty.
“And all of this, as we sit on over 1.5 million hectares of fertile, arable land traversed by more than half a dozen rivers and with over 7 months of rain, a generous coastline and natural deep harbours to boot,” he said.
Putting on his political hat and mindful of the next general elections in 2023, the President told the students that he saw an opportunity in some of those concerns, adding that as they graduate he wants to challenge them to be bold entrepreneurs and to relieve themselves of the old and stale logic of – “the other party say the gron dry, so leh we vote for dem neks tem”.
“Adopt a new logic that says ‘I or we can develop a solution for adding value to agricultural products and market those locally and internationally’ or ‘We can develop solutions or products to cater for tourism, transportation, or other services’.
“I am gratified beyond all measure this morning because you are graduating at a time of great expectations from family, your community, and your nation,” he added.
President Bio further stated that this year’s graduation, which has as its theme: “Education toward Entrepreneurship,” especially resonates with his vision for the future of the country.
“The Vice-Chancellor, in his address, referenced the young entrepreneurship programme that will benefit from the NUFFIC Orange Knowledge Grant to the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands. I implore university administrators and faculty to develop home-grown entrepreneurship training programmes too that will foster a culture of entrepreneurship among our tertiary education students.
“In that way, our students and graduates will see that there is a lot more wealth in establishing and running a viable business than in looking for or complaining about the lack of public sector jobs. Government recognises the value of entrepreneurship to national development. That recognition is embedded in the medium-term national development plan.
“We have set our sights broadly on creating an inclusive, diversified, and thus resilient economy with broad policy imperatives that favour scaled-up investments in agriculture and agro-value chain development, tourism, fisheries, renewable energy within a green economy among a huge compendium of other opportunities.
“We believe that we can make it easier for young entrepreneurs to breakthrough by opening up access to credit and expanding credit guarantee schemes, supporting infrastructure and capital development schemes, and guaranteeing innovative but low-interest financing products and loans that will support growth sectors.
“Of course, we now hear the refrain, – ‘Pappay, the gron dry,’ – from the teeming population of young persons in mainly urban areas of Sierra Leone. Graduates are not excluded. ‘All man dae ala say the gron dry.’ But what are you doing ‘for make the gron soak for you’ and for your community and nation?
“Global entrepreneur and my friend, Bill Gates, would say that ‘your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.’ The phrase – ‘the gron dry’ – by young people has given me pause for thought especially on the great potential and limitless possibilities for young Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone.
“Thinking deeply about this, to me, is not about winning the next elections. To me, it is about how we permanently transform our nation for our own good,” president Bio concluded.
The Pro-Chancellor of USL, Professor Hector Morgan, said that in line with last year’s theme of “Restoration of Excellence,” they have been able to establish partnerships with other universities abroad for sharing and upgrading their materials and human resources, create a centre for technology innovation and entrepreneurship and a functional business centre outlet in each campus.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the USL, Brigadier General Professor Foday Sahr, said that the event was another graduation ceremony for the purpose of conferring academic awards to deserving graduands who had worked so hard over the years to achieve their dreams. He added that they are also celebrating with the graduands, their parents and loved ones for realising those remarkable achievements.
Lots of optics without substance. It’s all Lipstick. What a Terrible, Pathetic and Unfortunate situation, that the number of graduates keep piling up on our streets every year without jobs. These graduates without jobs, will be roaming our streets depressed and frustrated. Later, they will end up with mental health problems in a country with only one Mental Health Medical Doctor. It’s just disgraceful, unacceptable and not just right. This deceitful Administration promised millions of jobs when they took over. Where are the jobs Mr. President? Are they coming just before the 2023 elections? I hope so. For, the campaign for reelection will be hitting negatively hard on your team.
Instead of President Bio and Bio Administration providing the jobs he/they promised for the thousands of graduates and youths, he/they is/are now asking them to use their skills, if they have any, to provide jobs for themselves. Can you imagine? What a failed project the people of Sierra Leone voted for in 2018. Nevertheless, don’t worry graduates, both old and new languishing our streets without jobs. Hope and jobs are on their way. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma is busy putting the puzzles together to provide you with Leaders in 2023 that will give you the Leadership, jobs, food, health, clean water supply, more MENTAL Health Doctors, free university scholarship to name a few that you people need.
So, be prepared to vote APC come 2023. The APC has many progressive people now who will deliver the goods for the country. God bless and help our graduates find work. God bless and help former President Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC make the right decision and provide us with the leadership to enforce the “New Order” and “get SALONE sorted”. Amen and Amen, father God.
This is a great step in the right direction for hosting this wonderful occasion at the National stadium for citizens to cheer our graduates for a wonderful job well done. This event is synonymous to a sporting event which will be a motivation for all current students who will be aspiring to be treated as a super star. Thanks to the Almighty for inspiring President Bio to make education his flagship program which many experts believe will help transform our impoverished nation within the next 2 decades.
I am personally grateful to our beautiful First Lady Fatima Bio for boosting the self esteem of our girls through the Hands of our Girls program which will definitely increase the number of girls and women graduating from secondary schools and colleges around the country.
I hope and pray that most of our educated graduates will also possess very strong background of RESPECT and “HOME TRAINING” especially towards WOMEN (our moms, wives and daughters) and also elders – otherwise their education will be considered worthless which spiritual leaders refers to as “GUTTER EDUCATION”. May the Almighty continue to bless President Bio with wisdom, understanding and steadfastness. AMEN and AMEEN.
Wishing All The Graduants God Richest Blessing.