Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New foreign minister in office

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Zainab Hawa Bangura has officially started working after the out going Foreign Minister, Alhaji Momodu Koroma on Tuesday this week officially handed over the Ministry at a ceremony held at the ministry in the capital Freetown.

Zainab Hawa Bangura
In his 27 page notes, the out going minister catalogued his achievement since he took over in June 2002 highlighting seven major points he described as Sierra Leone’s Foreign Policy Objectives. Two disappointing aspect of the report he mentioned were that of a 150KVA generator the Ministry secured from UNDP which he said, cannot run due to lack of funds to purchase fuel. He however disclosed that the Ministry requested to the Finance Ministry for additional funds to run the generator which according to him, the ministry failed to honored. The out going minister said, Hastings Airfield which was earlier selected to become logistics base for Economic Community Of West Africa States (ECOWAS) was later, at a meeting of the ECOWAS technical committee of experts on peace and security and the mediation and security council (the latter comprising foreign ministers) concluded that the site does not conform to the required technical standards and requested offer for an alternative. Mr Koroma also said that in February, 2006 at the invitation of the Government of Morocco, the Division participated in the Second Meeting of the Joint Commission between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Morocco which was held in Rabat, Morocco on the 8th and 9th of February, 2006. He said however that as a fellow-up to this meeting, a delegation comprising two experts from Morocco arrived in Sierra Leone on 27th February 2006 to assess the construction of the Vice President’s Office. The same delegation, he said, visited the premises of one Technical College, to determine the suitability of the premises for equipment, which will be donated by the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco. The government of the Kingdom of Morocco offered fifteen scholarships in various fields to the Government of Sierra Leone in 2006. The offer, he said, has not been utilized. The Government of Morocco also offered scholarships and equipment for the training of trainers for the Technology Colleges, which would be receiving supply of equipment. The out going Foreign Minister disclosed that, it is expected that another delegation will soon visit Freetown to look at ways of helping Sierra Leone to solve the perennial electricity shortage in Freetown. The Technical Cooperation agreement between Sierra Leone and Morocco paved the way for the technical assistance received from Morocco in the form of a 26-man Morocco team from the National Power Authority which arrived in Sierra Leone in August 2006 and has been busy helping with the rehabilitation of the machines at Kingtom, as well as the distribution system and street lighting. Government of Morocco also jointly organized an international Conference with the Government of Sierra Leone to raise awareness on the plight of the National Power Authority. The conference was well attended but only a pledge of US$5 Million was made by Qatar. Other promises included US$5 Million from Kuwait and US$5 Million from UAE. The World Bank promised to develop a project of US$70 Million for National Power Authority. The Moroccan team (ONE) now has a Technical Agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone on the rehabilitation as well as on going negotiation for a 10-megawatt generator for emergency power. The details of these are available with the National Privatization Commission. The Division from time to time attends the dedicated Session of the Special Strategic Group meeting at the Office of the National Security Coordinator, chaired by the Coordinator. This is a Security Meeting, which deals with matters of security threat within and outside Sierra Leone. These consultative meetings occur every Wednesday from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm.