Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 August 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio has today departed London for “a private visit to Turkey”, where according to State House report, “he is expected to spend two weeks and meet potential private sector investors with business interests in Sierra Leone.”
His two weeks “private visit” to Turkey will bring the total number of weeks of absence from Sierra Leone to one month, as questions are raised back home about his ‘undisclosed itinerary’ and the cost of his overseas trips, at a time critics say – the cost of living in Sierra Leone is rising rapidly.
The pump price of petrol and kerosene was increased yesterday by president Bio to Le10,000 a litre, as his government continues to struggle to manage the economy with declining taxation revenue.
Costs of public transportation has gone up alarmingly, as vehicles queued up at filling stations for fuel.
According to State House report, the President is accompanied by his wife and family to Turkey, whose bilateral trade with Sierra Leone now stands at $55.3 million from $51.5 million in 2017.
In 2019, Turkey’s export to Sierra Leone was $59.6 million, including iron bars ($15.5M), cement ($14.9M), and wheat flour ($6.9M).
In 2019, Sierra Leone’s export to Turkey was $2.67 million, made up mainly of scrap vessels ($1.21 million), titanium ore ($1 million), and gold ($421,000).
Two weeks ago, President Bio left the shores of Sierra Leone to attend a Global Education Summit in London, chaired by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Kenyatta of Kenya. The aim of the summit was to raise $5 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, needed to transform education for millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Today, president Bio sets off from London empty handed – heading for Turkey where he said he is hoping to woo private investors. He has in the past been to Turkey to encourage investors without much success.
Although many in Sierra Leone were expecting president Bio to return home after his London summit, State House now says that the president had decided to “extend his stay in London till 9 August, during which time he engaged in private meetings with British investors and companies as part of his sustained efforts to promote investment opportunities in the resource-rich West African nation.”