Amin Kef Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2022:
UK Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean – Victoria Grace Ford, was in Freetown last Thursday, where she praised President Bio’s leadership for the policy reforms his government has put in place.
The British politician, said that many of these reforms, should help transform Sierra Leone to a modern democracy; adding that the Free Quality Education initiative is particularly crucial, especially with the premium the government places on women and girls who can now pursue courses in the sciences at higher institutions of learning.
“Your Excellency, thank you for your leadership. This is so amazing. Even in the midst of the Coronavirus, you were able to do what many developed countries couldn’t do. That is the right thing to do. The establishment of the One-Stop Center, the Gender Empowerment Law, the Sexual Offences Model Court, the repeal of the seditious libel law and most importantly, the abolition of the death penalty,” she stated.
President Dr Julius Maada Bio thanked the visiting Minister and the UK Government for their continuing support to the country, adding that Sierra Leone is a beacon of stable democracy that is providing a template for the development of other West African countries.
He also noted that despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine that is adversely affecting economies around the world, Sierra Leone has not used that as an excuse for not implementing change and promoting development.
“Over the last 4 years, my government has championed Gender Equality issues and has placed it at the heart of its New Direction agenda. The new Gender Empowerment Bill has enshrined a commitment to 30% of public appointments going to women.
“The ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ initiative by the First Lady is tackling child marriage and sexual violence through public awareness and advocating for stronger sentencing to end female genital mutilation for those under 18 years by actively engaging traditional leaders. Also, the Munafa Fund is providing SMEs with micro-finance of which 70% are female-owned,” President Bio said.
The President requested the UK Government to support the new AgriTech4Africa partnership, saying that rapid adoption of agricultural technology and innovations, specifically tailored to the needs of the African smallholder farmers, is key to meeting the food needs of Africa and the world.