John Baimba Sesay – China
16 January 2012
Lu Shaye is the Director-General at the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China. During an interview with China Daily newspaper of Thursday, 12th January 2012, he spoke of China’s dedicated interest in cooperating with the West in Africa.
For him, the most fundamental thing about the cooperation is that it should benefit Africa’s development “and benefit the efficiency and effectiveness of the International Community’s cooperation on Africa…” He believes, China’s help to Africa is an international responsibility. No need denying these facts.
China’s contribution to Africa’s socio-economic development has been of great standing. China became Africa’s largest trade partner since 2009 and by 2010 bilateral trade reached $ 126.9 billion.
As a matter of fact, China actually started offering economic help to African countries in the mid 1950s, under the spirit of the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia in 1955 -according to the November 2011 edition of LensAfrik Magazine.
Sierra Leone’s diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, entered into in 1971 have ever remained to achieve greater developments for both countries.
These diplomatic relations are based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and peaceful co-existence.
From the political front, diplomatic relations between the two countries have led to high profile visits by Chinese leaders to Sierra Leone.
This is also the same with Sierra Leone, following the visit to China by Siaka Stevens – President at the time – in 1973, two years after the signing of diplomatic relations between Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China.
There were also the visits of President Joseph Saidu Momoh in February of 1986 and July of 1990, and Ahmed Tejan Kabba in May-June 1999. President Ernest Bai Koroma also visited China in 2009 and 2010, twice in a period of three years, since becoming President of Sierra Leone.
On the economic front, China has been of great support to Sierra Leone to the point that, when we discus Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Change – as espoused by President Koroma, we could see the leading role that China has continued to play in support of the President’s Agenda.
Both at the trade, economic and technical fronts, China has always been with Sierra Leone, as could be seen in the framework of infrastructural development – such as the construction of the Youyi Ministerial Building and the National Stadium.
From the educational front, the country has, since 1976 to date, continued to accept Sierra Leonean students to study in Chinese Universities, thus boosting Sierra Leone’s Human Resource.
But there are also tremendous efforts that the Sierra Leone Embassy in the People’s Republic of China has been making over the years, in terms of supporting President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Change.
The embassy, which is serving as a link between China and Sierra Leone has been pursuing investment opportunities for Sierra Leone at the international level and also working towards ensuring the socio-economic development of the country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma’s determination in developing Sierra Leone needs the concerted effort of Sierra Leoneans, both at home and abroad. Therefore, when President Koroma talks about pushing Sierra Leone, it means, Sierra Leoneans should be seen playing an active role in that direction.
The embassy in Beijing has been working assiduously in meeting the needs of present day Sierra Leone.
Proposals are also underway for the construction of a Five-Star hotel and residential houses for public servants by Henan Gouji, a private company in China that has been operating an Industrial Park in the Cline Town area.
Again, the China Machinery Engineering Corporation has also submitted a letter of expression of interest for the construction of a Fisheries Harbour Complex. These are positive developments that have bee pushed by the embassy in China.
The embassy will continue in its efforts, aimed at projecting Sierra Leone’s investment potential to the Asian world.
The rich potential that the country has in mining, agriculture, tourism, marine resources and how Sierra Leone should be seen as a market for the sub-region will not be kept as secret, but will be told to all and sundry.
The fact that Sierra Leone is now a business friendly environment shows that there is the political will, in terms of the country’s development.
There are major investment areas such as the establishment of manufacturing industries, development of the fishing sector through increased fish production, and the establishment of large scale farms for the production of sugar cane, flower and fruits.
At the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Koroma was confident enough to inform the world, that “Sierra Leone has continued to make steady progress, particularly in the priority sectors outlined in my Government’s Agenda for Change, namely: agriculture, energy, infrastructure, health and education. Those five sectors were purposefully selected from many others requiring transformation because we believe they would have the greatest positive impact on the lives of our people. We have done so against the background of the unprecedented challenges facing our world today such as the rise in food and fuel prices, the global financial crisis, and the chain of unending conflicts around the world…”
Indeed, much has been achieved in the area of implementing the Agenda for Change and it is clear to all that despite these achievements, there are still challenges ahead of us as a nation.
With these facts in mind, one will realize that Sierra Leone’s embassy in China, just like any of its embassies abroad has a pertinent role in ensuring that President Koroma’s agenda is achieved.
This is why the workforce has remained committed in serving the people and government of Sierra Leone. The embassy will work towards supporting the efforts of government.