Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 January 2023:
Classed as one of the poorest nations in the world that cannot survive without handouts from the international community, questions are being asked about the rationale for spending millions of dollars in constructing a foreign service academy in Sierra Leone.
Why should building a foreign service academy be a priority for a country where thousands of children die every year of malnutrition, pregnant women die before or during childbirth because of poor healthcare, millions going hungry every day, and hundreds of thousands of children sitting on floors in poorly constructed schools with no water or toilet facility?
Both President Bio and the Chinese government believe that a foreign service academy is a priority for the poor people of Sierra Leone.
Speaking at the opening event two days ago, President Bio said: “We will focus on upskilling and reskilling the existing foreign service workforce through the Foreign Service Academy. Also, the Academy will recruit and train a dedicated cadre of professional career diplomats that will be globally competitive in our ever-changing world.”
The new Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone Wang Qing, agrees: “Capacity building is essential to building our nations. I hope and believe that this academy will become Sierra Leone’s cradle of diplomats, with more career diplomats in this country and in Africa.”
But how important is Sierra Leone’s voice in global strategic diplomacy, if the government cannot even convince investors to invest in the country’s economy because of corruption, poor governance, and human rights abuses – to which the Chinese government turns a blind eye?
During the opening ceremony, President Bio expressed sincere gratitude to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for his government’s generosity and commitment to supporting his country’s sustainable development and socioeconomic transformation.
“This strategic partnership continues to forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation, and support my government’s vision for developing key growth sectors, including health, agriculture, education, infrastructure, and defense, and building a resilient economy.
“With President Xi Jinping’s and his government’s support, we have registered significant progress in each of those sectors,” President Bio said.
The President also said that over the past four and a half years his government’s main foreign policy focus has involved strengthening external relations for integration, adding that his New Direction Agenda promoted international cooperation built on mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual benefit with strategic partners. (Photo above: One of the classrooms in the new foreign service academy in Freetown).
“We have strategically rebranded our great nation and repositioned it with pride in the community of nations through proactive, constructive, and productive engagements with the world. A necessary policy action to strengthen international cooperation outlined in my government’s Medium-Term National Development Plan was establishing a Foreign Service Academy to train and produce career diplomats for global engagement,” he said. (Photo below: Many children in Sierra Leone are learning in very poor conditions).
Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency Wang Qing, said that “since the establishment of diplomatic relations 52 years ago, China and Sierra Leone have always been good friends, good brothers, and good partners We treat each other as equals and cooperate for mutual benefits and common development;” and that “under the strategic guidance of His Excellency President Xi Jinping and Your Excellency, Julius Maada Bio, we are sure that China-Sierra Leone relations will have a more shining and promising future.”
Speaking at the recent US/Africa Summit, Sierra Leone’s foreign minister – Francis, could not help telling half-truths and lies about development in Sierra Leone and the state of politics in the country. This is what he said: