President Bio speaks about leadership at Vancouver conference

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2019:

Yesterday, president Bio and the mayor of the capital Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, arrived in Canada for a five-day Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference, where president Bio will deliver a keynote speech on ‘Leadership’.

The TED conference is taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, starting today 15th April and ending on the 19 April.

TED conference brings global leaders from industry, government and other public services together to discuss global challenges. The theme for this year’s Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) Conference is “Bigger Than Us”.

President Bio’s leadership has inspired many around the world, after winning a fiercely fought election just over twelve months ago.

It is understood he will be the only sitting Head of State to speak at the conference this year, along with the mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr (Photo).

Over 1,000 professionals in the fields of science, technology, medicine, architecture, economics, geography, education, literature, law, history, entertainment and politics are expected to attend the conference.

The conference will focus on “exploring technologies that evoke wonder and tantalize with superhuman powers, mind-bending science that will drive the future as significantly as any politician, the design of cities and other powerful human systems that shape our lives, awe-inspiring, mind-expanding creativity and, most of all, the inspiring possibilities that happen when we ask what ideas are truly worth fighting for, worth living for.”

As the first African Head of State to establish a Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation within the Office of the President, president Bio is expected to share his personal journey to the presidency, his commitment to human capital development, his belief in youth as leaders, and the importance of science and technology in transforming governance in Sierra Leone.

Speaking about President Bio’s participation at the TED 2019 conference, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman – Yusuf Keketoma Sandi said: “President Bio has become the champion of Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa. The TED event will give him an opportunity not only to attract scientists, technologists and innovators to Sierra Leone but also to continue in rebranding our great country from a nation of natural disasters to a nation of innovation and technology”.

President Bio departed Freetown yesterday Sunday 14th April 2019 and is expected to return on Friday, 19th April 2019.

Keen on controlling public spending, especially overseas travel, President Bio is beleived to have left Freetown along with a relatively smaller entourage comprising of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooporation – Dr Alie Kabba, the Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne  Aki-Sawyerr, the Chief Innovation Officer – Dr David Moinina Sengeh (who is a Senior TED Fellow) and key members of the Innovation Directorate.

But critics say that the president must now focus on bread and butter issues facing the people of Sierra Leone –  management of the economy which has seen a 25% fall since the end of the Ebola virus in 2015.

Sierra Leone’s economic growth is slow, interest rates and exchange rates have gone up, and inflation and unemployment remain sturbbornly high.

There are calls for the president to put all energies on the economy, especailly the growth of key sectors such as agro-based industries to create jobs.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Binta as always for participation on this platform. I hope more women will come forward and express their views on this men dominated platform. You made some very fair suggestions on one of my comments sometime ago which I appreciate. Again, thank you very much and keep pushing. God bless you.

  2. The travelling arrangements by this President and those that came before him have and are continuing to put strain on the economy of Sierra Leone. It is clear that either the Presidents of Sierra Leone are given too much responsibilities or they have been using the power given to them by the people to unnecessarily waste the country’s money on foreign trips.

    Surely, the head of state should be travelling around the world to represent the country on state visits. However, the ways our Presidents including the current President travel the globe in the name of representing this country is definitely out of the scope of state representation.

    Take for example this current trip that triggers this comment. In my view, this particular trip should have been left for others such as individuals who play prominent roles in ‘technology and entertainment sectors, to represent Sierra Leone. Going away for five complete days is so uncalled for.

    I think its time parliament takes a deep look into state visits of our future heads of state and make it clear as to when they should represent the country and any visit by a head of state must be approve by parliament in advance.

    • “I think its time parliament takes a deep look into state visits of our future heads of state and make it clear as to when they should represent the country and any visit by a head of state must be approve by parliament in advance.” Abdul Sesay.

      Interesting. Parliament to approve state visits by a president? I wonder in which country that would prevail. Why would the executive branch of government be subservient to the legislative branch?

  3. Talking about the travelling of HE Bio abroad: It is not a thing to be considered negative, His presence is very vital. I believe he has advisers/advisors who are capable of doing that.

    • Hello Binta. I understand your concern regarding the ‘executive branch—– be subservient to the legislative branch’. May I just draw your attention to this point that Parliament is a make-up of both organs – the executive and legislative. This is why it is important; because when parliament speaks, the whole country speaks. That is interesting. Thank you for pointing that out.

  4. I understand the frustration of most people. It is all as a result of what I refer to people’s over expectation. It is No secret that even before the government of H.E president Bio came to power, the economy of the country was already on its knees as evidenced by the declaration of austerity by the previous government meaning that Sierra Leone was already bankrupt before this government took over the mantle of leadership.

    Honestly, I think that we should be happy that the president has the opportunity to travel in an attempt to re brand the image of the country that had been damaged not only by bad governance but also the natural disasters. Am pretty sure that the president did not impose himself on going to this conference but was officially invited as a special guest as you can see that he is the only sitting president to be at this forum.

    Instead of bashing him and being pessimistic we must applaud and give our president the support that he deserves. I suspect that there are still some deep divide mostly between the members of the opposition and the ruling party. The president was quite aware of this and that is the more reason he announced the formation of a Peace and reconciliation commission – ONE OF THE recommendations OF the TRC that has been long overdue.

    This Commission will be charged with the responsibility of reconciling and bridging the gaps at tribal, and regional levels. To demonstrate his seriousness on this issue A Green paper has been developed and on the 23rd of March 2019 a nationwide districts consultation was held in all sixteen (16) districts.

    This process shall lead to a National Dialogue Forum that will be dubbed Bintumani 3 – bringing all stakeholders both nationally and internationally to deliberate and set the tone for the setting up of this all important Commission. My advise therefore to all Sierra Leoneans is that we exercise a little more patience and give his excellency the chance to unfold his vision for this nation. Out of a five year mandate, it is still very early days to sound negative. Lets all come together raise our only mama Salone as one people.

    • Hi Augustine, you mentioned declaration of AUSTERITY by the previous government. Is that true? How did you come to that conclusion. Secondly, do you think there will be any serious dialogue whilst the COI is in progress? Implementing TRCs are always very effective in a calm political environment in my view.

  5. What has journalism come to? How can a worthy journalist utter the word leadership and Bio on the same breath? Leadership is not necessarily how one wins elections but how one governs. Please ask the people of Sierra Leone before printing stuff like this.

  6. There is no doubt that President Bio has become a globe trotter for the sole reason of portraying Sierra Leone as a fertile ground for investment in all sectors of the economy, without mortgaging the country to anyone as the Previous APC government was inclined to do,thereby laying the ground for a future liberation war, long after a good many of us will have gone down under.

    But one has to agree with those who contend that without leaving the international borders of Sierra Leone he can accomplish much, only travelling abroad when events necessitate it, perhaps to lend weight to investors who might be in doubt about signing on the dotted lines to bring their business and employment to the country.

    President Bio can effect this by using our foreign missions, which must be manned by capable people who can smell a good deal for the country a mile away. We do not have embassies or high commissions all over the world because of financial restraints, in which case the closest mission should be tasked with spreading the message, even utilising daily contacts with colleagues from other countries at the United Nations. Ineffective diplomats should be sacked and sent back home. This is what John Magafuli,the Tanzanian President, is doing; recently he recalled his High Commissioner to Canada for doing a poor job.

    A reduction in foreign travel by President Bio will save the country millions of Leones, which can then be applied to the most needy sectors of the country. This is simple Economics, with potential multiplier effects far beyond expectations.

    An economy in a mess and without a strong manufacturing base is extremely difficult to turn around, but we must start somewhere with the little things in our control, the bigger things will subsequently follow. A devastated Germany in the Second World War, was able to pick herself up because of the manufacturing base it had.

  7. Travelling again, Mr. president. Why you could not send some of your wonderful and intelligent young people, especially as its innovation, entertainment and design on this conference? Or dont you trust the youth as leaders?

  8. President Bio is making history not only for himself but for our beloved country. A country with vast amount of resources but have made no inroads in development. A country which has been hit by mudslide and EBOLA through the lack of proper measures and adequate attention to our human resource.

    Just one year into his 5 year term of governance he’s made inroads and attracting developed countries who once upon a time discarded us, squinted at our track records of financial indiscipline, mismanaging our resources- both natural and human. Today countries like Canada can give our President a platform to showcase our dreams and aspirations.

    He is there to show how significant we are as a people and how we can do business with other nations. My love and thanks to this humble gentle man. I am sure he is right there to become the best head of state our country has ever seen.

  9. This President must be traveling around the globe in finding INVESTMENTS and solving the BREAD and BUTTER issues facing the country in my view. I side to some extent with the critics of the President on this occasion. In my view, there is no need for the president to attend this conference. He should have just let the Mayor, the Foreign Affairs Minister and Dr. Sengeh attend or whoever he wants.

    Not all meetings, conferences and gatherings warrant the President’s presence. All the officials listed on this article are capable of representing the President. Well qualified and cool headed. Heads of States of other countries did not attend because they know what is serious business and what is not. They have experienced advisers who plan their traveling protocols based on importance and priority.

    What help does technology exploring that evoke wonder or designing cities, etc, have to do with the country at this present time? Those are all issues of the future. Even leaders of advanced countries did not bother to attend. They would prefer sending their capable representatives.

    For the President to reduce his entourage is welcoming. But the writer said and I quote ‘and key members of the Innovation Directorate.’ Who are those key members of the Innovation Directorate? 5, 6 10 or 15 additional officials?

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