President Bio meets US President Joe Biden at US-Africa Leaders’ Summit

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 December 2022:

Last Thursday, 15th December 2022, President Bio of Sierra Leone met with US President Joe Biden in the Wite House as part of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit organised by the US Government.

The visit comes despite critics of President Bio calling on President Biden not to meet President Bio who is accused of mass killing of dozens of unarmed prisoners in the capital Freetown, as well as shooting dead scores of opposition protesting youths across the country, with impunity.

Speaking after meeting President Biden, President Bio said: “We had a robust discussion on various topics, including strategies for enhancing the age-long relations between Sierra Leone and the United States of America.”

Sources say that the two presidents had frank exchanges about human rights abuses in Sierra Leone, the ongoing attempt by president Bio to change the electoral laws in the dying hours of his government to stay in office – with elections due in six months, as well as growing poverty in Sierra Leone.

But State House in Freetown are upbeat about President Bio’s meeting with President Biden. Writing on Twitter, President Bio’s spokesman said: “In less than five years, President Bio has been an icon in Africa, championing Transforming Global Education, Women’s Rights, Press Freedom, African Peer Review, UN Security Council Reform and Abolition of Death Penalty. Today, POTUS received President Bio in the Oval Office.”

Following President Bio’s visit to the White House on Thursday, President Bio held talks with the President of the Rockefeller Foundation – Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, about developing and funding a sustainable energy programme in Sierra Leone.

According to state House in Freetown, this is a follow up meeting after the government of Sierra Leone and the Rockefeller Foundation, through the Global Energy Alliance For People and Plane (GEAPP), signed an MOU in May 2022 to improve access to electricity and accelerate energy transition from fossil fuel in the West African nation.

The Foundation had also undertaken several missions to Sierra Leone to assess the energy challenges and opportunities for developing realistic strategies that will meet the country’s energy needs

President Bio spoke about the need to focus on agriculture whilst making a case for energy intervention to be prioritised to support farmers noting that this approach can be a catalyst for industrialisation, especially in rural communities.

“The Government and GEAPP should collectively come up with projects that will ensure effective development. Based on this mission, a Sierra Leone National Energy Transition Programme geared towards the Rockefeller Foundation (GEAPP) was developed.

“The vision of this Programme is within the next 7 to 10 years, this alliance should lead to new or improved electricity access for at least 1Million people through driving increased investments in Grid-connected renewables, distributed renewable energy (DRE) and corresponding investments in productive uses of electricity particularly in the rural areas,” President Bio said.

President Bio also said that his government’s goal is to produce 300MW of electricity and establish 600 mini-grids, which could help reduce carbon emission by 1.2 million tons annually and create over 1.3 million green jobs.

“Another focus area is to power up rural communities. This will include the reduction of mini-grid tariffs to less than US$0.30 to improve affordability, to power agriculture, provide agricultural and enterprise equipment and support small businesses.

“Key Projects: Supporting Betmai – 27MW hydro project to reach financial close; supporting a tariff buy-down pilot project; assisting 7,000 women located in 20 mini-grid sites to start or expand over 300 businesses enabled by renewable energy with support from CARE,” President Bio said.

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