Jetting in on Saturday 12th October 2019 the Honourable Vice President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, met His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio on Sunday 13 October 2019 at State House, where he announced major areas of support to Sierra Leone that will impact economic development in the immediate future. The meeting took place at State House in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
He praised the Government for ongoing economic reforms and disclosed that the agreement with Export–Import Bank of India would, therefore, open a credit line of US$ 30million to support Sierra Leone with a major irrigation development project, boost agricultural productivity at the Tomabom rice project and eventually achieve food self-sufficiency. He encouraged public private partnership and private sector enterprises.
In a joint press conference, Sierra Leone’s Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and his counterpart said other agreements the two governments had signed were for the establishment of a joint commission, cultural exchange programme and capacity building, which resonated with the President’s flagship human capital development programme.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Nabeela Tunis, and Director of Telecommunications Consultants India, Mr. Kamendra Kumar, also signed an MoU to participate in the e-VBAB Network Project, a technology upgradation Pan-Africa e-Network venture.
The Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, assured that India will be a reliable development partner of Sierra Leone in social and economic infrastructure and capacity building etc.
He also stressed on the need to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It was made known how India and Sierra Leone signed six agreements including a Line of Credit to the tune of USD 30 million for irrigation development in Tomabum to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, termed the relation between the two nations as “warm and excellent”.
Emphasizing the importance of the meeting, Vice President Naidu, who concluded his 3-day visit to Sierra Leone on Monday 14 October said that was the first-ever high-level visit the West Africa nation had had from the Republic of India.
He was accompanied by the country’s Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries, Shri Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, a Member of Parliament in the Upper House of the bicameral Parliament of India, Shri Ramvichar Netam, and senior officers of the Government of India.
President Bio paid tribute to the long-standing relationship between the two countries, citing the role they played as peacekeepers with the United Nations in post-war Sierra Leone. He said the Indian community had also contributed through business to the economy of the country.
“Sierra Leone and India have had a long-standing relationship. Today, as a country, we want to assure the people of India that we will continue to strengthen that relationship for our mutual benefit. Enjoy your stay and thanks for visiting Sierra Leone,” he said.
President Bio made reference to the increasing engagement with India and thanked India for the line of credit of USD 30 million for irrigation and the extensive support from India in capacity building, technology transfer and humanitarian aid.
While thanking India for its unflinching support to Sierra Leone, Bio also underlined the importance of working together at international fora including the United Nations, the MEA added.
The Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr. Mohammed Juldeh Jalloh also recalled the contributions of Indian soldiers towards the restoration of peace and stability while serving in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone in 2000-01.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper