Sierra Leoneâ€™s Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, NEC, has presented their annual report for 2020 and strategic plan for 2020â€“2024 to His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, citing reforms that have taken place in recent times.
The Commissioner, Mohamed Konneh, said he was happy to present their annual report and strategic plan as required by law. He further stated that the 2020 report reflected a significant milestone in the evolution of NEC because it provided not only an outlook of the year under review but also created a bridge between the 2015-2019 and the 2020â€“2024 electoral cycles.
â€œIn 2020, NEC conducted 11 elections in a violence-free environment across the country, including parliamentary, local councils, village heads and paramount chieftaincy elections,â€ he noted.
He further stated that the many reforms that recently took place at NEC were generally aimed at transforming the institution by creating opportunities for personnel professional growth on a valid career path and efficient delivery of electoral management services to the highest order of diligence.
Â He added that since 2018 NEC had continued to receive support from international partners and the government of Sierra Leone to undertake key activities.
Earlier, Chief Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa recalled that the purpose of every electoral cycle was to provide plans and strategies that would guide the entire electoral processes in the country, saying that the strategic plan would provide the right atmosphere for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
In his remarks, President Julius Maada Bio said he wanted to particularly focus on Strategic Pillar 8 of NEC, which dealt with inclusion, participation, and equity, adding that his government had approached that pillar from a rights perspective.
â€œâ€¦that every citizen has an equal and inalienable right to fully participate in political life, to fully participate in political debate, to be consulted, to vote, and to be voted for. Gender, sexuality, disability, age, youth, levels of literacy must not be hindrances. They must be fully accounted for in inclusive democratic elections at all levels. The views and voices of every citizen must matter on how to move this nation forward. My Government will therefore work with all stakeholders and development partners in ensuring that the future of elections in Sierra Leone is fully inclusive,â€ he assured.
He recalled that two weeks ago, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace building Affairs, who is also the UN Focal Point for Electoral Assistance Matters, informed his government of their readiness to provide technical assistance to NEC for the upcoming local, parliamentary, and presidential elections.
While particularly thanking the European Union for their support and acknowledging the work of the Elections Conflict Prevention and Mediation Group, President Bio also noted the remarkable progress the Commission had made in reviewing the 2015-2019 strategic plan, reflecting on the implementation of that plan, and proposing effective measures to address gaps and other perceived areas of improvement.
KKY Chairs Launch of High-Level Coalition on Health & Energy
Convened by the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group, UNDP, and the UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs to ensure universal access to Clean Cooking and Health Care Facility electrification, Hon. Yumkella moderated the high-level launch of the Coalition on Health and Energy Partnership for Action (HEPA).
Some 3 billion people are exposed to high levels of health-damaging pollutants each and every day due to the lack of access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. Such chronic exposure to household air pollution is the cause of nearly 4 million deaths annually from non-communicable diseases (including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer), as well as pneumonia.
At the same time, an estimated 1 billion people globally are served by health facilities with no access to electricity. Electricity is essential for the operation of life-saving and critically needed medical devices, such as for vaccine refrigeration and surgical-emergency, laboratory and diagnostic equipment, as well as for basic amenities such as lighting and clean water. In many cases, access to electricity can make the difference between life and death, as has been starkly highlighted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Using his native and Kychom constituency as a real example, Hon. Yumkella underscored the importance of energy access for people around the world, and for his country and his constituency and for socio-economic development.
Sierra Leone was represented at the high-level dialogue by Dr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Mr. Alhaji Kanja Sesay, Minister of Energy. Both noted the Sierra Leone Governmentâ€™s effort to bring access to energy and good health care.
Other participants included Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus- DG of WHO, Mr. Achim Steiner – UNDP Administrator, Mr. Liu Zhenmin – UN DESA Under-Secretary-General, Commissionner Michelle Bachelet of UN -OHCHR, Mr. Francesco La Camera – DG IRENA among numerous others.
MTHE Engages UNICEF
The Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) has met with United Nations Childrenâ€™s Education Fund (UNICEF) to discuss key areas of collaboration. The meeting was held at the Ministry’s Conference Room, New England Ville in Freetown.
In his statement, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie, registered his sincere appreciation to UNICEF for answering to their call. He mentioned the importance of reviewing the modes of Teacher Training to make it more participatory between the teacher and student, adding that much attention is needed in the area of enhancing science education.
Â He lamented over the inadequate provision for â€œHigher Educationâ€ in the Education Sector Analysis presented to the Ministry, stressing the need to address such gap.Â
UNICEFâ€™s Education Specialist, Celeste Staley, mentioned their commitment as an institution to supporting the Ministry vis-a-vis Teacher Training Institutions, and Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET). She noted UNICEFâ€™s readiness to support its Rapid Analysis, by addressing some of the identified gaps so as to feed into the Sector Plan.
Â She further mentioned strides to strengthen all institutions working within the Education Sector, as well as identify adolescents that have dropped out of school with a view to looking for the kinds of technical and vocational opportunities available for them.
Tourism Ministry, NTB Engage Journey & ACORN Consultants
The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs together with the National Tourist Board (NTB) have engaged the three consultants from Journey and ACORN Consultancy firms based in South Africa on developing the national tourism marketing strategy of Sierra Leone. The engagement was held at the Ministryâ€™s conference room in Freetown.
The World Bank Sierra Leone Economic Diversification Project (SLEDP) identified product development, marketing and promotion as one of the components which will take an integrated destination approach to improve the performance of Sierra Leoneâ€™s Tourism sector and also seek to develop a national tourism marketing strategy. The project will also be feasible to implement and resonates with tourism stakeholders and target markets as well as embraces the importance of sustainability.
Given the above, Journey and ACORN Consultants are recruited by the Project Fiduciary Management Unit (PFMU) to conduct series of consultative meetings with key stakeholders in the public and private sector, engage in site visitations and also organize workshops.
Giving the welcome address, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Andrew Sorie welcomed the consultants to Sierra Leone saying that the Ministry and the board are excited to host them to get Sierra Leone where it needs to be.
He recognized that Sierra Leone has one of the best cultural artifacts, tourism destinations but only need the international flair to add to what we have, hence the engagement to let the world know about what Sierra Leone has.
Explaining the purpose of the engagement, the Deputy General Manager of NTB, Jeffery Moijueh expressed delight about the engagement, noting that the consultants are here to hold consultations about the tourism sector to meet international standards.
Presenting the background of the Sierra Leone Economic Diversification Project (SLEDP), the project coordinator of SLEDP, Mary Jalloh said the marketing strategy was worth the support that was requested by the Ministry and NTB, noting that she is excited that they were able to contract Journey and ACORN consultants with their wealth of experience in developing a marketing strategy for other destinations.
The Director of Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mohamed Jalloh said they are very pleased to receive the consultants, noting that Sierra Leone has tremendous tourism assets which he said have not been given the publicity it deserves.
He presented a brief overview of what the Ministry has been doing for the consultants to have a proper understanding of the activities of the Ministry.
The Lead Consultant of Journey Consultancy Firm, Mike Fabricio said they are excited to be in Sierra Leone.
He commended the Minister for her passion for tourism saying that they are here to listen and look to what Sierra Leone has in terms of tourism.
He appreciated our peopleâ€™s hospitality and also congratulated the Minister for implementing the visa on arrival move which he said made it easier for them to get to Sierra Leone.
He presented an overview of the Journey Consultancy Firm saying that they have done more than 140 marketing projects in 55 countries mainly in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and many other places in the world.
In her address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr Memunatu Pratt said she is extremely excited that this is happening and applauded the consultants for coming to Sierra Leone as it will be a catalyst for all that the Ministry and NTB have been doing.
She thanked the outgoing World Bank Country Manager, Gayle Martin for making this a reality.
She pointed out that tourism was not having the much needed attention before now, but that has changed because tourism is now well-positioned politically, socially and nationally to thrive. She stated that this marketing project is coming at a time when they would have a national strategy that can speak not only to international domestic tourism but speak to domestic tourism as well.
She maintained that in developing the marketing strategy, they want to see value for money when the strategy is been implemented. She maintained that although digital marketing has been challenging lot has been done in promoting Sierra Leoneâ€™s tourism.
BONTHE to GET POLICE HEADQUATERS
In a well-attended ceremony held on 5th June 2021, at Mattru Jong, Bonthe District, the people of Bonthe jubilantly appreciated the Inspector General of Police and the entire Sierra Leone Police (SLP) for turning the sod for the construction of a Regional Police Headquarters in Mattru Jong, for the first time in the history of the district.
Speaking from an authoritative point of view, the Honourable Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who doubles as the chairman of the Sierra Leone Police Council, commissioned the construction of a Regional Police Headquarters in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District.
He said that the Regional Police Headquarters will be established not only to ensure high police visibility within the district and its environs, but to also fulfill governmentâ€™s commitment to protect the lives and properties of its citizens.
He noted that one of the key priorities in the governmentâ€™s manifesto is to improve on the condition of service of the security forces which would result in effective quality service delivery.
In a short and precise address, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr. Ambrose Michael Sovula disclosed that the idea to establish a Regional Police Headquarters in Mattru Jong was born out of the fact that policing in Sierra Leone has become so dynamic that it should be administratively maximized in smaller communities. â€œOne does not need to go to Bo city or Kenema city to access police administration. That was why I thought of hosting a big Police station which will serve as a Regional Police Headquarters in Bonthe District immediately after my appointment as the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police.
This development will create an opportunity by which we could Regionalize the Southern Region into two Police Regions, and each of these Police Regions will be commanded by an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG)â€, the IGP outlined.
Also present was the Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs Mr. David Panda Noah who also highlighted on governmentâ€™s commitment to improving the status of the security forces.
He cited the governmentâ€™s manifesto as evidential instrument to substantiate his claims. Mr. Noah assured that the government would continue to do the needful which would enhance trust and confidence between the citizenry and the security forces.
Â â€œWe are here today to do what we have highlighted in our manifesto. We are turning the sod for another ultra-modern Police Station and a Regional Headquarters for Mattru Jong, Bonthe Districtâ€, Said the Minister. He further outlined that the focus of the government is to improve on human capita development and one of the pillars for achieving such is the security sector. He added that the turning of the sod of the Bonthe District Regional Police Headquarters is a statement which his Excellency the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Julius Maada Bio committed in his Manifesto. â€œThe turning of the sod of this Regional Police Headquarters means that the holistic security is a foundation and every part of development on His Excellency, the Presidentâ€™s agenda. In the eyes of His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, every Police Man and Woman is important and included in his promise that; we would have a united, peaceful, progressive, dynamic, confident, enterprising and a happy nationâ€, Minister Noah Concluded.
Another important personality present was the Chief Minister, Honourable Jacob Jusu Saffa who emphasized the importance of hosting a Regional Police Headquarters in Bonthe District. He assured the People of Bonthe District that the construction of a Police Regional Headquarters was just a tip of the iceberg amongst numerous other projects that would benefit the people of Bonthe District.
He highlighted that the electricity project, the water project, the Bo-Mattru Jong road construction project, the Mattru Jong township road construction projects, the construction of bridges within the district and numerous other projects that would benefit the entire district are on the way and would soon be materialized.
Conclusively, the Chairman Bonthe District Council Dr. Moses Probyn, appreciated the Regional Police Headquarters project on behalf of the people of Bonthe District and he assured that the people of Bonthe District would continue to give their support to the Police and the government of Sierra Leone at all time. Climaxing the occasion was the turning of the sod by the Honourable Vice President, which marks the commencement of the project.