Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 March 2020:
Yesterday, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) – Dr Akinwumi Adesina, held talks with Sierra Leone’s President Dr Julius Maada Bio at State House, about the bank’s support for the country’s economic development, social progress and poverty reduction initiatives.
Presenting the AfDB president to president Bio, finance minister – Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that the Bank is very supportive of Sierra Leone.
The AfDB president said that he is delighted to be in the country to gain first-hand experience of progress in the country. He said he has held several meetings with key stakeholders.
He commended the government for its efforts in Human Capital Development, saying that development is about the wellbeing of citizens. He also thanked the President for becoming a champion for nutrition – a show of leadership by creating the opportunity for those who cannot afford the high cost of living.
He also commended the government’s proposal for construction of the Lungi Bridge to connect the capital Freetown and the airport town, noting that it is a structural urban development that could create new economic opportunities through special economic zones.
He said that the bank has reviewed the government’s priorities and assured president Bio of its support for the country’s development programmes.
President Bio welcomed the AfDB president and his team, saying that Sierra Leone is a small but determined nation that is changing the narrative about its image around the world.
He said that despite inheriting a challenging economic environment, his government is instituting a lot of reforms, especially in the area of fiscal consolidation.
He said that his government is committed to prudent economic management and has brought back development partners such as the International Monetary Fund, who had earlier left the country.
Bio also informed the bank’s president of his government’s efforts to clamp down heavily on corruption, which is holding back the country’s development.
He noted that the fight against graft is both a way of correcting the past and also creating a deterrent for present public officials.
“We have been able to increase tax revenue and fight corruption, which is a fight that we will continue to pursue. The free quality education has helped increase the number of enrolment in schools; and we are serious about it because it is part of our inclusive development. I want to thank the AfDB for its support to our infrastructural sector, which is an enabler for development,” he said.
Earlier, the AfDB President also held a consultative meeting with ministers, heads of agencies and other senior members of government on projects that are being supported by the Bank. The meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister, Professor David John Francis.