Horst Gruner, the German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, has assured the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) of his Embassy’s willingness to partner with the Association to implement projects that are of mutual interest and benefit to both parties.
He was speaking to a cross-section of the SLAJ National Executive during a courtesy call on the Ambassador at his Hill Station Embassy on 19th February, 2021.
The President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, gave a brief background of the Association which he said was founded in 1971 to represent the interest of journalists and promote the practice of the journalism profession. He informed the Ambassador about SLAJ’s contribution to the country’s democracy, the fight against corruption by holding the Government and public officials to account, its role in national emergencies with reference to the Ebola outbreak (2014-2016) and the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the historic repeal of the criminal libel law last year 2020 as some of the key achievements of the Association as it celebrates 50 years of existence this year 2021.
The SLAJ President recalled the good relationship with the German Embassy in the 80s and 90s during which the country’s journalists benefitted from training opportunities under InVent and Radio Deutsche Welle, and urged the Ambassador for a return to those good old days.
Nasralla dilated on the challenges facing the media, especially the print media in terms of printing facilities and technicians.
“Most of the printing presses servicing the newspaper industry in Sierra Leone are German-made, but we lack the technicians to maintain these machines. Every time there’s a problem with the machines, the Proprietors would have to import technicians from Ghana or Nigeria to maintenance them, and that costs a lot of money. So there is an apparent need of technical training in this area,” said Nasralla.
In this vein, the German Ambassador informed the SLAJ delegation about the German Senior Expert Service which comprises German retired professionals in various fields or disciplines.
Ambassador Horst Gruner assured SLAJ of the Embassy’s willingness to partner with the Association once it sees its areas of interest. He said the Embassy will link SLAJ with retired professionals who are willing to support developing countries, especially print and radio technicians.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper