Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 May 2018:
Sierra Leone needs to expand and deepen its trading relationships with other West African nations, so as to benefit from any competitive advantage the country possesses. Newly elected president Julius Maada knows that too well, and yesterday arrived in Abidjan – capital of Ivory Coast for talks with his counterpart – president Alassane Ouattara.
According to report from State House Media in Freetown, both presidents have agreed to deepen the bilateral cooperation between Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, at a meeting held in the Presidential Palace in Abidjan yesterday, Friday 4th May 2018.
President Alassane Ouattara who was hosting President Bio on a two-day visit congratulated Bio on his election as President, which he described as open, transparent and a peaceful process -demonstrating the political maturity of the Sierra Leonean people.
President Ouattara said that both countries should step-up bilateral cooperation. He added that agriculture should be a major focus of cooperation between the two countries.
President Ouattara also said that together they can improve on the levels of import and export across both countries.
He spoke about his impressive high economic growth performance of the Ivory Coast, which has been responsible for his country’s low inflation rate and high GDP figures. He assured President Bio that Cote d’Ivoire now enjoys political stability which will form a strong basis for bilateral engagement.
President Ouattara discussed the ongoing development of the trans-West Africa electricity project in Cote d’Ivoire, which when completed, will supply electricity to neighbouring countries; adding that plans are on the way for it to be expanded to the Mano River Union of which Sierra Leone is a member.
President Bio thanked President Ouattara for the warm welcome and hospitality, as this was his second visit as President to the sub region. He thanked the people of Cote d’Ivoire for the role the country played in the peace consolidation to end the war when he was military Head of State.
President Bio also thanked President Ouattara and the people of Cote d’Ivoire for the humanitarian assistance Sierra Leone received from Cote d’Ivoire during the Ebola outbreak and flood.
“I have received a huge mandate from the people. We have quite a lot to learn from Cote d’Ivoire and one particular area is the agricultural sector to see how we can add value to our products and create employment for young people,” President Bio told president Ouattara.
He also said that his new Government is determined to diversify the economy through agriculture, tourism and marine resources.
President Bio told Ouattara that his administration will improve governance in the mining sector, so that the natural resources can benefit the people of Sierra Leone. “This should be a new era for us to work together and have a great bilateral relationship,” President Bio concluded.
Both Presidents later addressed the press at the Presidential Palace conveying similar sentiments and committing themselves to deepening bilateral cooperation between the two countries. President Bio who is very fluent in French also held some of the informal discussions with his counterpart in French.