15 January 2013

Sierra Leone: 'We Will Continue to Create the Enabling Environment'

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has on Monday 14th January 2013 assured the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) and former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair that his government will continue to create the enabling environment for investment, business, energy, and youth empowerment with special emphasis on skills training.

These, according to President Koroma, include priority areas such as education, health care delivery, as well as infrastructure.

The President made this declaration while addressing a joint media interaction with Mr. Blair in the Credentials Hall at State House, where he disclosed that it was always a pleasure for him to host the former Prime Minister in Sierra Leone.

The popularly re-elected President Koroma noted that Mr. Blair had long demonstrated his goodwill to work with Sierra Leone since his tenure as Prime Minister of Britain, onto his retirement which is being currently manifested in the role played by a team of 8-10 AGI staff providing support in key sectors of the country, including agriculture, health and investment.

The visit of Mr. Tony Blair, the Head of State continued, was not just to congratulate him and his government on his resounding re-election, but also meant to strengthen the ongoing partnership with the AGI.

The former British premier, who confirmed the continuation of the AGI's commitment to work with government, used the news conference to acknowledge the great change President Koroma has brought to the people of Sierra Leone.

He revealed that he had watched Sierra Leone grow over the past few years and that his organization feels honoured to further work in the country with the government of President Koroma.

"Our goal is to see that the priorities of the people are well delivered", said Mr. Blair.

Responding to questions posed by the media Mr. Blair said that Sierra Leone was on its feet as it has massive natural resources, adding that Sierra Leoneans should embrace the "Agenda for Prosperity". He reaffirmed the AGI's commitment to continue to get things done.

Mr. Blair also said that AGI will focus on the effectiveness of priority areas in seeing how his organization can provide continuous support to the government of Sierra Leone, adding that it was sometimes necessary for somebody from outside to acknowledge the progress that has been made by the government of President Koroma.

Earlier, while setting the momentum for the interaction proper, the acting Government Spokesman Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay who acted as moderator said that the bilateral relations between the two countries had come a long way. He noted that if Sierra Leone can today boast of making inroads in health care delivery, then the Tony Blair Foundation can't be counted out of such achievement. He vividly recalled the pivotal role played by the then Blair led-government in the restoration of peace and stability in the country.

Mr. Bayraytay therefore said that it was no mistake that the AGI is in Sierra Leone to help with the re-branding drive of the government of President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.

In a brief vote of thanks delivered by the newly appointed Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Alpha Kanu said that Mr. Tony Blair brought peace to Sierra Leone, and that all will follow his path through the intervention of the AGI to help the government bridge the gap between vision and service delivery. Alhaji Kanu thanked the esteemed statesman, saying that it was always exciting time to have Mr. Blair in Sierra Leone.

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